What is public accounting?

Public accounting can be viewed as firms of accountants that serve clients such as businesses (retailers, manufacturers, service companies, etc.), individuals, nonprofits and governments. The services provided by public accounting firms will vary by the size and the expertise of the firm. Here are some of the public accounting services:

  • preparation, review, and auditing of the clients' financial statements
  • tax work including the preparation of income tax returns, and estate and tax planning
  • consulting and advice involving accounting systems, mergers and acquisitions, and much more

The people employed in public accounting are often certified public accountants or CPAs. Many accountants leave the larger public accounting firms after several years of experience and become an employee of a single business. In their new position they will be referred to as a private accountant, corporate accountant or internal accountant.

Public accounting firms range in size from tens of thousands of small local firms to a few huge international firms employing hundreds of thousands of CPAs throughout the world.

The positions in public accounting often consist of staff, senior, manager and partner.