How Much Travel Do Accountants Do?

As a new or aspiring accountant, often times one of the most asked questions is, “How much travel time is required for Accountants?”  While some people are concerned about being away from the family, or in an uncomfortable hotel room, others seek this experience out and are addicted to it.  Of course, depending on which type of person you are will play a large part in deciding which type of an accountant you should become, or which job to take.

The most travel prone career path is for auditors, with external auditors usually having more travel than internal auditors.  The reason for this is that external auditors often have several clients in which they are serve in different geographic locations.  The main reasoning behind this is that audit work is hard to perform while not at the client – it requires constant communication that is much more effectively done face to face.  Internal auditors face the same communications challenges, however travel can be lighter simply because they will often work directly for one company.

Industry accountants, depending on the company, can do a fair amount of travel as well.  This largely depends on your role in the company and responsibilities.  An industry accountant may need to communicate with several facilities that they are responsible for, or perform work relating to said facilities.  Generally the more one travels, the better career experience one obtains from having a larger variety of situations one can apply knowledge to.

Tax accountants generally do very little travel, and are located in a central office.  There are exceptions to this rule, of course, as I am aware of colleagues of mine that have done rotations in other countries to train support staff.  However, most tax work can be performed from one central location and does not require heavy travel.

Travel for an accountant can be looked at in a positive or negative light, and it all depends on your preference and your career path.  Obviously if your career goals are set on a position where this experience would be beneficial, it is a smart idea to pursue a career where you will be exposed to this.  One must always balance costs and benefits however, and while travel may be a great career move for some, it is a decision that must be made on a case-by-case basis.

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