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Public vs. Private Accounting

businessman said on the calculator

When deciding to work in either public or private accounting, it’s important to consider both professional and personal pros and cons. While both involve crunching numbers and drinking copious amounts of coffee, these two types of accounting are completely different worlds. Depending on your personality and work-style, one may be better for you. (And when you’re ready, we can help!)

Public accountants provide services to clients such as consulting, auditing, and tax planning services. Private accountants work within a company, non-profit organization or government agency in management accounting, corporate planning, financial accounting, budgeting, treasury or internal audit departments within a corporation. While both positions involve number crunching, long hours, and lots of coffee, jobs in public and private accounting are completely different.

As a public accountant, people skills are a must. Since it is a client-oriented business, you’ll need to communicate regularly and efficiently with you clients on a day-to-day basis. In order to fully understand your clients, it’s important to completely understand their business. To do so, you’ll need a clear line of communication and be able to ask as many questions as you need to. Good people skills segue into being a good sales person. It is your job to bring in clients to your firm, so being able to market yourself is key. Being able to sell your services in a personal and professional manner will take you far in public accounting.

Since you’re dealing with a wide variety of people with demands coming from all different directions, public accounting tends to be a more stressful job. Hours tend to be longer as a result of hard deadlines, but in the end, you will have better exposure as a public accountant.

On the flip side, private accounting is known for being significantly less stressful. Since private accounting work with the same group of people on the same client each day, the job tends to be more of a 9-5. Because of this, private accountants tend to have a more flexible job with more possible days off. Sick days and personal days are more common since each colleague is working on the same client.

In the end, your decision should be based on your strengths, personality, and interests. What matters most to you?

Ready to make a switch? We can help you find your new career! Contact your local Accounting Principals office today!

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Accounting Principals

We're Accounting Principals--a leader in finance and accounting staffing. In fact, since 2010, we've been part of Adecco Group, a Global 500 company and leader in staffing services around the world. But this isn't staffing as usual. We take quite a different approach than most staffing agencies. A people-focused approach. We believe in forming real relationships with both our clients and our candidates. We want to understand the needs on both sides.

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