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What are the best career paths for CPAs who come from public practice?

I have been working as an audit associate in a firm for over a year, and honestly, am not very happy with what I'm doing. As I am contemplating whether to resign from my job, I always find myself confused as to what career path I will take when I leave public practice. Is it more advisable if I venture a job in private companies and gain experience in Finance? Or should I specialize and get a certification? An acquaintance also advised me to stay until I get promoted to have better opportunities when I apply for private companies. I would greatly appreciate your points regarding my dilemma. Thank you!


Arthur Yip
Title: Audit Supervisor
Company: On Assignment Inc
(Audit Supervisor, On Assignment Inc) |

Public practice is only one avenue of what a CPA can do. Stay long enough to get promoted might sound practical but if you're not happy with what you're doing, your work will reflect that sooner or later. I would say stay long enough to fulfill the experience for your CPA license and move on. A CPA can also have a satisfying career in Tax, Finance, Internal Audit, or Compliance Dept. in either private or government entities. You just need to figure out what suits you!

(Accounting Manager) |

I would suggest you move around within the company and try different aspects of public practice. If you find an area you like, you could either stay or be hired out by a private company. Accounting work is thrilling to a select few.

(Controller) |

I recommend doing research about different types of jobs and what kind of certifications and experience they require, and have coffee or lunch with as many different types of accounting and finance folks as possible to get a good idea of what they do and perhaps get some ideas of what direction you might like to go in your career. Practically speaking, having the CPA credential will almost certainly make you more marketable and increase your earning potential for years to come. Also, many jobs in finance and accounting have requirements (or preferences) of several years in public accounting. In short, staying in public accounting for 2-3 years and getting the CPA credential can open doors and increase earnings in a wide variety of positions down the road. Just something to consider. Good luck!


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