Back to insights

Public vs. Private Accounting

The difference between public and private accounting

When deciding to work in either public or private accounting, it’s important to consider both professional and personal pros and cons. While both involve crunching numbers and drinking copious amounts of coffee, these two types of accounting are completely different worlds. Depending on your personality and work style, one may be better for you. (And when you’re ready, we can help.)

Public accounting

Public accountants provide services to clients such as consulting, auditing, and tax planning services. As a public accountant, people skills are a must. Since it is a client-oriented business, you’ll need to communicate regularly and efficiently with your clients on a day-to-day basis. In order to fully understand your clients, it’s important to completely understand their business. To do so, you’ll need a clear line of communication and be able to ask as many questions as you need to. Good people skills segue into being a good salesperson. It is your job to bring clients into your firm, so being able to market yourself is key. Being able to sell your services in a personal and professional manner will take you far in public accounting.


Since you’re dealing with a wide variety of people with demands coming from all different directions, public accounting tends to be a more stressful job. Hours tend to be longer as a result of hard deadlines, but in the end, you will have better exposure.

Private accounting

Private accountants work within a company, non-profit organization or government agency in management accounting, corporate planning, financial accounting, budgeting, treasury or internal audit departments. Private accounting is known for being significantly less stressful. Since private accountants work with the same group of people on the same client each day, the job tends to be more of a 9am to 5pm schedule. Because of this, private accountants tend to have a more flexible job with more possible days off.

Choosing your career path in accounting

While both positions involve number crunching, long hours, and lots of coffee, jobs in public and private accounting are completely different. In the end, your decision should be based on your strengths, personality, and interests. Which seems more like you?


Ready to make a switch? We can help you find your new career apply today!