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If you are looking into a degree in accounting, there are three typical career paths in public accounting that many students pursue. These paths are tax, auditing (assurance), and consulting (advisory). There are many firms that hire in public accounting. There are the "Big 4" accounting firms, as well as many mid-market and small business focused firms. To narrow your search, I would try to research the field you are most interested in.

Tax accounting is pretty straight forward. Your job is to help companies and/or individuals file their tax returns. You will not see much traveling in tax, and you will be very busy from January through March and even April. Tax is a great choice if you have an eye for detail and are interested by researching tax law.

Auditing, or assurance, is the task of examining client financial statements for errors. Basically, you are a sort of accounting detective, looking for any accounts that may be misleading, incorrect, or even fraudlent. Auditing requires a good amount of travel to client work sites, and you may only be in your own office once a week (sometimes less). Most auditors have investigative minds and are good at analyzing their client's business.

Consulting, or advisory, is probably the most glamourous of the three. Being a consultant means that you are hired by a client to give them advice on a tricky situation. The client may be looking to expand, or adding a new business line. Consulting involves the most traveling, and you will probably have many 70-80 hour work weeks. You have to be flexible with your time and willing to work hard to be a good consultant. Typically, consultants do make a higher salary than audit and tax.

I would suggest that you consider which of these fields interest you the most. You should begin researching as soon as possible. You may also want to attend your school's career fair even as a freshman. Try to introduce yourself to campus recruiters and put your name out there. Typically, you won't be able to get an interview for an internship until your junior year. Having a relationship with recruiters before that time will be an advantage that will set you ahead of other students.

Another way to set yourself ahead of the competition is to see if any of the firms offer a summer leadership program. Leadership programs usually last around one week during the summer and give you the opportunity to get a feel for the firm. Many students who attend these programs are offered interviews for internships or full-time jobs. Typically the Big 4 firms all have a leadership program as well as some of the mid-market firms.

Answered 2 years ago