Public Accounting vs Private Accounting: What’s the Difference?

You may think of public accountants as accountants who provide services such as audit, consulting and tax planning services to clients such as businesses (retailers, manufacturers, service companies, etc.), individuals, nonprofit organizations, and governmental organizations. Private accountants are individuals who provide personalized accounting services exclusively to one client, who may typically be a high-net-worth individual or corporation. You can also work in the financial accounting, management (cost) accounting, corporate planning, budgeting, treasury, or in the internal audit department within the organization.

Should I choose Public Accounting over Private Accounting?

The answer largely depends on your career aspiration, strengths, and personality. You may assess what is required of both these accounting fields and make a decision for yourself.

To become a public accountant, you need:

Excellent People Skills: 

The public accounting domain is wholly client-oriented, which means that you are required to have good interpersonal skills. 

The key to being a good consultant or an advisor is persuading and relating to your audience by telling stories, making analogies, and speaking naturally. It is also essential for you to have good writing skills to convey information in the right manner. You must also be extremely proactive and have excellent organizational and management skills whilst at the same time maintaining ethical standards and integrity.

Good Sales Skills: 

You must also be equipped with good sales and marketing skills in order to solicit business for your firm. 

Why Public Accounting may not be right for you

More Stressful Environment: You will be dealing with a wide variety of people and demands, which can cause you a great deal of stress as compared to private accountants who will work with the same group of colleagues for a longer tenure, thus leading a more relaxed lifestyle.

Longer Hours: To meet your clients’ deadlines, you need to put in a high number of hours, in the process of which you may have to give up on certain luxuries like sleep or taking a vacation. Deadlines often tend to be hard deadlines. Unlike a corporate accountant, you will not have a 9-5 job.

Less Stability: Even though an accounting job is considered to be a secure job, CPA firms are often affected by the boom and bust of the economic cycle, with clients cutting their budgets. Due to this reason, audit and tax teams are more secure than advisory groups within public accounting.

Why is it great to work in Public Accounting?

Better Exposure: A public accounting firm will expose you to a plethora of projects, quite possibly in different industries. This is an unparalleled experience, especially when compared to an accounting role in one company.

More Doors Opened. An experience at a CPA firm (especially Big 4) is highly valuable for your resume. It is definitely easier to switch from public accounting to private accounting than vice versa.

Bottom Line

Both public and private accounting offer rewarding career options for students interested in the accounting field. There are lots of exciting CPA career paths as you gain more experience in your niche.


 Hope the above artice is helpful to you. If you have any queries, feel free to comment in the section below. Happy Learning!

Simandhar Education:

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