Career Paths for Accountants: Working at a Big Four Firm


The “Big Four” accounting firm include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). They are a group of global public accounting firms with large-scale client base. Some facts: The largest firm by revenues is PwC with $35.4 billion in 2015. Deloitte is close behind with $35.2 billion. In terms of employees, Deloitte is the largest with 225,400 people in 2015. E&Y is hiring the most with 12.3% employee growth.

What are some of the benefits of choosing to work at a Big Four accounting firm?

Working at a Big Four accounting firm holds a lot of prestige in the accounting and business world.This is because the firms are large enough that you will be exposed to a wide variety of clients and a wide variety of business cases. In addition, these firms have the ability to invest more in the education and training of their employees. Many consider working at a Big Four firm to be a springboard for your career that can open the door to other employment possibilities. Future employers know the challenge of getting into a Big Four firm and that you will be worked hard and trained well, so this holds a lot of weight.

What are some of the drawbacks?

Getting into a Big Four accounting firm is competitive and challenging. Many who work at one of the Big Four firms say that there can be long hours and some say a lack of work-life balance. The potentially competitive nature of the firms or high expectations can amount to stress. Also, the seasonality of accounting means that certain times you cannot take time off when it is busy. The corporate environment, including all that comes with it like hierarchy and internal politics, is not for everyone.

Should I work there?

It is best to find the company and environment that best suits you and aligns with your goals. You have to know what your goals are in getting into an accounting track. Do you want to become in the position of a manager? Do you want to become a CFO in the future? Working at a Big Four firm will definitely bolster your resume and provide good experience, but know that it is also not the only path. You do not want to follow the path because you just “hear” it is the best, but then be miserable working there everyday because it is not what you really want for yourself. Other factors like if you would like to work abroad or locally, and what your goals are also important to consider.


Speaking with a career counselor is a good way to gain clarity of purpose and goals. PLUS Career offers career counseling for accountants that help them to find best-fit for their future path.