The “Big 4” is a term used to describe the four biggest accounting firms (Deloitte, PwC, E&Y, and KPMG). These firms are the largest providers of accounting services in the world and offer the top accounting jobs for new accounting graduates. We asked out experts the top 5 things to know about working at a Big 4.
Many current students believe that working at a Big 4 is the top accounting job you can get out of college. The Big 4 firms all typically have a number of services, which might attract different types of students, including Audit, Tax, and Consulting. It’s most common for people to join them straight out of college and – after a few intense years of training – transition to a long term position in a private business.
However, you should know that those people who stick it out and go all the way to become a “Partner” (e.g., an owner of the firm) often earn more than $1M per year! To help you understand more about working at a Big 4, we polled our expert panel (who have worked for them for years) to find out the top 5 things anyone should know:
- You’ll learn constantly – working at a Big 4 means you spend your time helping clients with their problems, rather than working on your own organization. New graduates work across multiple industries over their first few years and can quickly get exposure to everything from retail, to technology start-ups, through to health care operations. It’s a great way to try out lots of things before committing to your long term career.
- There will be great opportunities both inside and out – do you want to work internationally? Do you want to be given lots of responsibility? Do you want to run a team in the first few years? Well, if there’s one thing the Big 4 can do, it’s provide opportunity. Whether it’s with Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, or E&Y, working at a big 4 will give you the opportunity to transfer and work all over the world, and you’ll definitely get put in charge of really big stuff very early. They hired you because you’re intelligent and they want to put that to work! On the flip side, the outside industry recognizes that potential too. Once you’ve had a few years, if it’s time to leave, you’ll be able to step into a position 2 – 3 levels above where you would be otherwise. It’s like an elevator to the top.
- It’s tough to get picked – there’s no doubt that the opportunities created by working at a Big 4 mean that lots of people want to work there. To land the job, you’ll need to be smart, communicative, and driven. We think you can do it – but we just wanted to remind you.
- You’ll work hard – If you want to be home by 5pm each day, then this job probably isn’t for you. E&Y, Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC are all known for working hard. They have demanding clients, charge a lot for your services, and you’ll need to be willing to work late nights and occasional weekends. It’s not always glamorous and you’ll need to have a “just get it done” attitude to be successful working at a Big 4.
- The money and perks will be good – So it’s hard work, long hours, and great opportunities in the future. But what about right now? The good news is that all the firms come to the party when it comes to payday. You won’t be retiring after 5 years, but you’ll be doing great compared to most of your high school buddies. Think of $60,000 – $70,000 to start and then quickly climbing into the $100,000+ range. On top of that, other benefits like health care plans and fitness subsidies are top of the line.
If you’re interested in working at a Big 4, you’ll need to at least do a Bachelor’s in Accounting. You should start by looking on our college search page to find a program in your area or read our article on the best schools for Big 4 jobs!