How Fast are Promotions in Public Accounting?

As you plan your career out ahead of you, consider the possibility of taking the route of entering public accounting. 

While the hours are long and the job stressful, promotions are generally fairly quick and the career opportunities when you decide to leave are plentiful.  Often times if you stay in public accounting for several years, the salary you command when you leave will be much higher than that in which you made while you were in public accounting.

So what is the timeline for promotions?  Well, it depends on which accounting firm you are at to a large degree, however generally promotions are measured in years.  If you manage to stick around, as the turnover is fairly high, most people follow a certain path where you will be advanced at a certain time, with a few exceptions for very high performers getting early promotions.  However, from the firms I have looked at it appears that the following timeline is the norm:

Years 1-2 : Staff Auditor

Years 3-4 : Senior Auditor

Years 5-6: Manager

Years 7 +: Senior Manager

After this, it comes to the point where senior managers are selectively promoted from the senior manager role.  How many years does it take to make partner?  I have heard the shortest as 9 years, however the average is around 11 or 12, and can be much higher than this as well.

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