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by Vault Careers | April 30, 2018


If you've ever wondered what it's like to work for one of the Big 4 accounting firms, here's a quick visual representation of the most common best and worst aspects about life at the Big 4. Note: the qualitative data used to compile these world clouds came from our latest Accounting Survey, in which we asked 8,800 accounting professionals (4,000 of which worked at one of the Big 4) to tell us about the best and worst things about their jobs, as well as to rate their firms in nearly 20 workplace categories, including work/life balance, compensation, overall job satisfaction, culture, and training.

The BEST Parts About Working for a Big 4 Firm:

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 The WORST Parts About Working for a Big 4 Firm:

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Three Takeaways From the Above Infographics

1. Working for a Big 4 firm is an incredible learning opportunity and a great place to begin your career, no matter if you intend to stay in public accounting or move on to another industry. You'll get to work alongside very talented, motivated, bright, dedicated colleagues at the Big 4. You'll also be treated to tons of formal training programs and mentoring opportunities. This translates into gaining hands-on experience and knowledge that will either help you advance within accounting or that you'll be able to take with you if you go outside the industry. Further helping you if you do decide to leave your Big 4 firm and public accounting is the fact that working for one of the Big 4 is seen as very prestigious, as the brand names of Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC are known throughout just about every corner of the globe.

2. Unlike an industry like investment banking where 80-hour weeks can be the norm and 100-hour weeks can happen from time to time, in accounting you're treated to a relatively decent work/life balance and a good amount of flexibility with respect to where and when you complete your work. Yes, the tax season can be taxing, and you can put in 60-hour weeks, but you will not put in 80-hour weeks, and once tax season is over, life, compared to that on Wall Street, is a beach. Plus, the Big 4 firms are well known to treat their employees well when it comes to benefits, as the four big accounting players are among the leading firms in the U.S., if not also the world, when it comes to maternity/paternity leave and vacation-day offerings for entry-level employees.

3. In an indudstry where you're constantly adding and subtracting dollars and cents, it can be somewhat frustrating when you learn that your paycheck is not exactly going to add up to a ton of money. Compensation is very fair at the Big 4, but compared to industies such as banking, tech, or consulting, public acccounting isn't winning any awards in the comp department. That said, as mentioned above, your hours are pretty good (some would say very light) compared to those other industries and the perks are good, so there's not too much to complain about when it comes to the bottom line.

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