How to make Partner at a Public Accounting Firm

Nearly everyone at some point in their accounting career, whether it be as a student or once they are actually in the field, has considered what it might be like to be a partner in public accounting.

The odds against making such a move can be so high that many people dismiss the notion, or others put it in the back of their heads because it is so far away.  However, making partner at an accounting firm can be highly profitable in the monetary sense.  Keep these tips in mind to help advance yourself to the prestigious ranks of partner:

  1. Become a CPA – In order to become partner at a CPA firm, you are going to need to achieve the well respected title of CPA.  While some firms have roles for non-CPAs’, generally it is becoming more and more rare to find those in the upper echelons of a company that do not have one.
  2. Get a Graduate Degree – Studies have shown that having a graduate degree may not matter when it comes to the pay you start out at in public, but actually does increase your chances of becoming a partner at an accounting firm.
  3. Always be Selling – As a partner, a lot of your job is going to be going out and selling new work to clients.  Because of this, you are going to need to show your superiors you have the ability to be not only an outstanding accountant, but a great salesman as well.
  4. Be the Exception to the Rule – Roughly only 2% of people who start in public accounting ever make partner, so keep those odds in mind as you progress throughout your career.  You are going to need to really stand out from the crowd.
  5. Stick Around – It is taking longer to make partner lately due to various factors in play.  If you are planning on getting in and making partner right away (see under 15 years) then you will likely be discouraged if you don’t and be more likely to leave.

If you follow these guidelines, work hard, enjoy a bit of luck along the way and you very well could make partner at an accounting firm some day.  Check out more great articles in our guide for new accountants!

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