Number crunchers have something to grin about: Job opportunities in accounting are expected to only keep growing over the next several years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Openings are expected at all levels, especially in tax and advisory services. And more good news: Bigger raises are on the horizon for many employees at the Big Four firms.
The BLS projects a 22% employment growth rate in the sector from 2008 to 2018.
Rise of Advisory
The Big Four are making a push into advisory. Clients are becoming more confident in the economy and are willing to start exploring new opportunities again, according to Holly Paul, U.S. recruiting leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where there are numerous positions available for advisory work in M&A and deal making.
According to the accounting blog Going Concern, Ernst &Young's assurance division is looking to bulk up in a big way: The firm sent an employee referral email last month requesting employees to invite three to five friends to join the division.
On the tax front, firms are still hungry.
BDO International and Grant Thornton have positions in both tax and advisory open, from the entry level through partner. Most-wanted on their roster: tax managers. "Its gotten really tough to find a good tax manager now," said Sandi Guy, a partner and director of human capital at BDO. "And we really need them." She said 42% of her hires are in tax, and 19% in assurance. She expects a 25% increase in experienced hires this year.
The Age of Government
Federal agencies like the FBI, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC are beefing up their accountant ranks. But governmental actions also have effects in other companies. "Health-care reform [means] that every organization is going to need to do something new," said Anne Lang, chief of human resources at Grant Thornton. "And that means a need for accounting professionals."
At PwC, there is an up tick in all work that's government related, said Paul, especially health care and financial services. As a result, PwC's government practice is growing across the board.
Firms are also going to want to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to government work, said Lang, and so will be looking for financial analysts and forecasters in their accounting departments. Nonprofits are also hiring extensively, said Guy.
Salaries at the Big Four
Here's the lowdown on rumors on what the Big Four will be doling out this year:
KPMG: Raises are a definite, according to Chairman John Veihmeyer, who left voicemails for all employees earlier this month. "The pick-up in market and business conditions will drive compensation increases for the vast majority of our people," he said.
Deloitte: According to GoingConcern, CEO Barry Salzberg said that raises and bonuses this year will be larger then last year, although they won't return to levels seen before the recession.
Ernst & Young: Steve Howe, a managing partner at the firm, announced earlier in 2010 that he "believes" that there will be pay increases this year, and according to a town hall in Chicago in April, that plan is still on.
PwC: Paul said compensation will definitely be upped this year, and raises will come earlier than usual -- July, instead of the usual September. "We want to show everyone our appreciation as things start getting really busy around here," she said. Paul also said accounting opportunities are "exploding," and said that if there was any time to take some accounting classes and think about making a career change, it's now.
-- Tax Accounting Careers 2010
-- So You Want to Be an Accountant
-- A Higher Calling: Religion Teacher Turns Tax Accountant
-- Accountants Set to Move as Economy Rebounds
Write to Shareen Pathak