Three General Areas of Accounting: Private, Public & Non-profit or Government

The three general areas of accounting are:  private, public, and non-profit or government.

Private accounting would include the following career paths:  financial accountant, cost accountant, managerial accountant, budget accountant, tax accountant, accounting information systems, internal audit, controller, CFO.

Under the category of public accounting you can find the following career paths:  external audit, tax consulting, management consulting, and review engagements.

In the government an accountant serves under the entities and agencies.  In non-profits accountants work for cooperative or charitable institutions. The accounting tasks, procedures and guidelines are different in government and not for profit accounting compared to private and public accounting. As such, accountants in this field may be required to study, specialized and gain experience in government or not for profit accounting.

Many accountants are employed by the “Big Four” – Deloitte, EY (formerly Ernst & Young), KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers – and public accounting firms of all sizes.  Many work in corporate accounting firms (from Fortune 500 to small, family-owned businesses), government, or nonprofit organizations.  Some go on to own their own firms or teach.

Core functions of accounting include:  accounting, auditing, assurance, and tax.  Accountants work for a wide range of both public and private clients and perform a number of different services from financial document verification to business consultation.  A career and education is also a good foundation for other careers, e.g. financial planning or banking.