I'm starting my masters in accounting in May. I'm not too experienced in accounting (my program had a cap on the number of accounting classes you could come in with at 9 hours). Before the end of my summer term I have to pick between audit and tax. My question is, how do they really differ on a day-to-day basis on the job? Are the promotion tracks similar? Chances to make partner the same or different?
I see audit as something that will always be around. I like it because it gives you the chance to observe a lot of different companies and figure out your niche. Tax codes may change, but everyone will always need an audit.
Tax? I don't know too much about it. I sat in on a corporate taxation course on my campus visit and the prof made it seem extremely interesting. But what are the odds of the tax code being changed extremely (flat tax/fair tax) and the specialization becoming fundamentally obsolete?
I'll most likely be in Charlotte or Raleigh after graduation, if that makes a difference.
Thanks for the input!
Tax or Audit
Big Four Audit and Tax are very different paths in terms of work and long term career options. Some of the differences are outlined below. The key difference between the two is that tax will likely lead to more tax roles.
Big 4 audit
Big four audit will pay less in the beginning. However, with audit you develop a strong foundation in accounting. Additionally you will have more client exposure. Compensation is generally between 50k and 55k.
Here's a a quick list of the pro's and cons of Audit:
- Possible exit to controller or CFO
- More client oriented work
- More career autonomy than Tax
- More intense work schedule especially during busy seasons
- Lots of traveling
- Skills wouldn't be as transferable to a private practice.
- Generally lower starting pay
Big 4 Tax
Working in tax gives you the opportunity to build a skill set to start a private practice. This can become quit lucrative especially if you decide to specialize.
@CrackJack "I know a guy who does only fiduciary returns (gifts/estate), and charges about $350 an hour for his work, and he's only "works" about 6 months out of the year. Hope that helps."
However, once you start working in tax it is much more difficult leave tax than auditing.
Pro's and Con's of Tax:
- In depth tax knowledge that can be applied to a private practice
- Less competitive than auditing or consulting
- Generally higher starting pay
- Extremely montenous work if you do not enjoy it
- Intense work schedule especially during busy seasons
- Less client oriented work
- Hard to exit to a non tax role