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The size and atmosphere of accounting firms varies greatly across the spectrum of jobs in the industry, from running your own business at home to working for one of the 'Big Four' firms. Some aspects of the job, however, remain the same across firms and regions.
The size and atmosphere of accounting firms varies
Doing Books by the Book
Accuracy is the most important thing in accounting work. Accountants take the time to check and double check their numbers to weed out errors: a commitment to getting it right permeates the industry. There is not much room for divergence from the rules for accountants who wish their work to be trusted.
Tax and Auditing Season
No matter the firm, accountants are guaranteed to be busier than usual in the few months between January and April 15, the big tax deadline. Often the normal 40-hour work week jumps to 50 or 60, but in the otherwise-steady industry of accounting, even this surge in work is predictable.
The four largest and most prestigious accounting firms in the United States--the Big Four--are Deliotte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Securing an internship or job at one of these highly competitive firms is worth the fight, because even a few years on the inside will make any resume shine. Each of the Big Four has annual revenues in the tens of billions as well as employees numbering in the tens of thousands.
Climbing the Corporate Ladder
Being an employee at an accounting firm is a classic corporate employment experience with 9-to-5 hours. Firms, especially bigger ones, are filled with bureaucracy, and even though promotions are fairly predictable, accountants need to make sure they don't slip through the woodwork by letting the boss know who they are and showing off those leadership skills whenever possible. Competition for promotions intensifies as accountants rise up the corporate ladder so potential accountants should be prepared for competition with colleagues.
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Managing Your Time
If you're like other accounting and finance managers who oversee multiple people while trying to accomplish your own tasks, you may struggle to get it all done. While managing your time can be a challenge, there are a number of techniques that can help you. Here are a few of them:
New Salary Guide Identifies Bright Spots Amid Tough Economy
Even in an increasingly uncertain economy, accounting and finance are core business functions vital to a company's ability to navigate difficult periods. As a result, demand remains steady for top accounting and finance expertise in key areas, according to the 2009 Salary Guide from Robert Half International.
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