Alternatively, private accountants typically work on a more even-keeled schedule. The best way to understand the distinction between public accounting and private accounting is to think of public accountants as “external” accountants and private accountants as “internal” accountants. The most substantive criteria in determining public vs. private accounting has to do with who is ultimately served by the work being performed by the accountant. If the work is being performed strictly for the benefit of a specific company, it is safe to conclude that this is a function of private accounting.

  1. Our flexible, fast-paced courses can be completed in just four to eight weeks and are available 100% online, empowering you to take charge of your education on your schedule.
  2. This certification almost universally conveys the idea that you’re an expert in your field.
  3. If you’re considering a career in accounting, it’s important to understand the many different options that are available to you.
  4. Within the accounting profession, two of the most popular branches of accounting are known as public accounting and private accounting (also known as industry accounting).
  5. They work wherever a customer allows them to, and they are frequently under the strain of tight deadlines, which can lead to extended workdays.

This is because public accountants work with various clients, such as individuals, corporations, or government bodies. Contrarily, private accountants work for a single company and focus on internal clients within the company. An accounting or finance degree is essential for entrants into both private and public accounting. Public accountants must also become CPAs and obtain their certified public accountant license. While private accountants are not required to be CPAs, accounting certifications can boost their salary potential and show a commitment to the standards and ethics required by their state board of accountancy.

Making Your Decision: Public vs. Private Accounting

Private accountants must have a deeper understanding of accounting transactions within their specific industry, including payroll, accounts payable, reporting and billing. Public and private accounting share a few similarities, but they also differ in important ways that should be taken into consideration when deciding on a career. Not only are public and private accountants subject to different education requirements, but they also tend to work in different settings and chart different professional paths. Before financial papers are released to the public, public accountants must ensure that they are correct and complete for their customers. Additionally, they prepare the financial statements to ensure fair representation of the client companies’ results, financial position, and cash flows.

If you need some more help comparing your options, speak with one of our knowledgeable admissions counselors about the degree options we offer at National University. As with any profession, there is plenty to love about both roles, but there are some downsides, too. Students with eligible credits and relevant experience on average saved $11k and 1 year off their undergraduate degree with University of Phoenix.

Pros of Private Accounting

For a private accountant, that top role would be Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Although both public and private accounting are well-paid, public accountants usually tend to get paid more than private accountants. Public accountants make around $76,165, whereas private accountants make $63,384. The accounting job landscape is in demand for public and private accountants due to complex financial regulations, data analytics, globalization, taxation, and auditing. The BLS estimates that employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 4% from 2022 to 2023, with about 126,500 openings projected each year.

What Does a Private Accountant Do?

“Public accountants need to have the ability to work in an ever-changing environment from day to day, the ability to learn quickly and a willingness not to have a ‘home,’ so to speak.” You typically begin in an entry-level accounting position as a staff accountant. After several years, you’re likely to advance to a role as a senior accountant before moving up to a managerial position. The demand is great — with salaries on the rise — for both types of accounting.

On the other hand, tax accountants calculate tax returns, ensure clients make on-time payments, and file the appropriate forms to claim deductions. The regulatory framework for public accountants is strict, especially for those who have to follow GAAP (Generally Accepted public vs private accounting Accounting Principles) when making financial reports. Moreover, aspiring public accountants must pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate exam to practice. According to EMSI, the median advertised salary for CPAs is $90,000 across all accounting functions.

Getting your bachelor’s degree in accounting is more accessible than ever before. In Accounting that will help you gain the industry-ready skills to work in the public or private accounting environment. In addition to building your accounting capabilities, Franklin gives you a jump-start on pursuing a professional certification, saving you both time and money.

They may work independently or oversee other employees, such as coworkers, bookkeepers, and accounting clerks. They may hold high-level jobs such as CEO or entry-level positions as a member of the accounting department. A public accountant may also prepare all tax documents on behalf of a business. By having an accountant do the tax return forms, the business gets some protection in an audit. The midpoint is the level in which candidates have average experience with the necessary skills to meet the job requirements, and the role may be in an industry where competition for talent is moderate. You can localize your insights to adjust salaries for regional cost of living, talent availability and other factors.

Now that you understand the fundamentals of these two accounting career paths, let’s evaluate the pros and cons of working in public vs. private accounting. The salary range for private accountants can vary greatly due to the vast array of businesses and industries that need highly trained financial professionals. That’s why it’s important to research where private accountants are in high demand. Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be an accountant in the public versus private sector. Ultimately, the decision between public and private accounting is a personal one, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Take the time to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each path and consider how they align with your goals and preferences.

Policy makers might worry that such a strong labor market will keep prices higher for longer. Our articles feature information on a wide variety of subjects, written with the help of subject matter experts and researchers who are well-versed in their industries. This allows us to provide articles with interesting, relevant, and accurate information. Ultimately, the “best” choice is whichever option most closely aligns with your strengths, interests, and goals.

What is Private Accounting?

Then after a few years they may advance to senior accountant positions and eventually assume management or even partnership roles at their firms. Private accountants follow similar career paths, often starting as entry-level staff accountants before rising to managerial or, in some instances, CFO roles. Private accountants also attain a high level of industry specialization as they progress through their careers. Public accountants work for companies that provide accounting services to others.

Earn Your Accounting Degree at National University

Private accountants often specialize in a specific industry, which can build specific knowledge and skill sets within the chosen field. If you’re considering a career in accounting, it’s important to understand the many different options that are available to you. An accounting degree can lead you to many different types of accounting careers, and unique specializations like tax and auditing. Private accounting offers a variety of roles, including staff accountant, financial analyst, internal auditor, and controller. You may also have the opportunity to specialize in specific industries or areas, such as manufacturing, healthcare, or nonprofit organizations.

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