Tax vs Audit: How to Choose a Career Path
In accounting, your career could go in many different
directions, but most of your choices will fall under tax or audit. So which
track is right for you?
It really is all about the right fit – which one better
accommodates your lifestyle and career goals? What’s going to make you happy?
While tax and audit can functionally be very different from each other, there
are some common values you need to take into consideration. We asked two Becker
experts to weigh in, and here’s what they recommend.
Test the waters
Get internships in both tax and audit. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s no better
way to scope out these careers than actually being in them. Try a smaller firm
and a larger firm. Look at the lifestyles on both sides: how much are people traveling? Are they on
location with clients or in a centralized office? Talk to as many employees as
you can to get a real-feel for working in that industry.
What do you want out
of a career and life?
Do you want to be the road warrior who gets to travel to
different cities and constantly meet new people, or are you more comfortable
being in a local firm with colleagues who are more like family to you? Are you
looking to start a family someday and will need more flexible work hours? While
yes, it’s important to soak in the professional experience, take careful note
of the people side of the industry as well.
What if I make the
It’s called a learning experience – you learn from it and
you move on to something better. You are not tied down to only working in tax or only
working in audit your entire career. In fact, it’s rare now to work at one
place or even one industry until retirement. Get your experience (typically two
years before getting your CPA license), then pick your options. If you spent
your first two years in tax and hated it, then show employers how transferrable
your skills are and get into auditing, and vice-versa.
Find your passion
Both tax and audit span to just about every industry you can
think of. If nonprofit work motivates you, work for an organization you’re
passionate about. If finance, retail or manufacturing really catch your
interests, go do tax or audit for one of them.
Keep in mind…
Employers want talented people with diverse skills, and they
want hard workers. If you have a strong work ethic and put in the hours and do
your job, the firms likely don’t want to lose you. If you’re doing a great job,
but feel like something is “missing” and want to explore another track,
employers are willing to have those talks with you.