Turnover in Public Accounting

As an accounting student going through college, one thing that is heavily respected is going the route of entering public accounting.

Why is it that nearly all of the leaders in the accounting field have spent time in public?  Simply put, the amount of experience gained from being in public accounting is hard to beat.  You are given greater educational opportunities in terms of classroom training and the best part is the on the job training aspect.

However the turnover in public accounting is higher than in other accounting fields, and there are some undeniable reasons behind this that you will likely face regardless of the firm you are at, or market you are in.

  • Long Hours – During certain parts of the year, such as busy season, you will need to work long hours for weeks or months on end.  This can take its toll on people and therefore cause people to quit.
  • High Pressure – Despite the long hours you are putting in, you are expected to perform at a high level as well, doing tasks in a very short period of time.
  • Travel – Sometimes when starting in the public accounting field, the travel associated with being in this line of work can be fun and something to look forward to.  However, the longer one is in it, the greater likelihood of a lifestyle change and need to slow down a bit.
  • Performance – Being in public accounting isn’t the easiest of professions and you need to be a top performer in order to stick around.  At public accounting firms, the motto is basically, “Up or Out.”  If you aren’t good enough to get to the next level, you will be replaced by the next wave of up and coming accountants in order to give them a shot.  Public accounting thrives by bringing in the best and the brightest every year and without this it cannot survive.

Of course, once your career in public accounting is over, there are plenty of careers in industry which can potentially pay quite a bit more with a significant decrease in the number of hours you are working.  Stick with it as long as you can, and always have a plan for your exit strategy.  Don’t forget to check out other articles in the Guide for New Accountants now!

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