The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the median pay for accountants and auditors is $77,250 per year. But if you’re working at a top accounting firm, you’ll make much more. From trendsetting to improved career growth, there are many benefits to working for a Big 4 firm.

Who are the Big 4 Accounting Firms?

The Big 4 are considered the top accounting firms in the world and include names like:

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

With headquarters in New York City, New York, PwC has amassed $50.3 billion in revenue, nearly 300,000 employees, and is located in over 155 countries. PricewaterhouseCoopers merged with Coopers & Lybrand in 1998.

  • Deloitte

Founded in 1845, Deloitte is the oldest still-existing accounting firm on the list. In 2022, they earned a global revenue of $59.3 billion, employ 330,000 people, and are located in over 150 countries. You can find their headquarters in New York City, NY.

  • Ernst & Young

When Arthur Young & Co. and Ernest & Whitney merged in 1989, Ernst & Young was born. Similar to PwC and Deloitte, their headquarters are in NY. They boast a revenue of $45.4 billion, 300,000 employees, and locations in 150 countries.

  • KPMG

Formed through a merger in 1987, KPMG is the only Big 4 bank located in Culver City, California. KPMG is located in over 155 countries, has 227,000 employees, and has a 2022 revenue of $34.6 billion. They are the least popular of the Big 4.

While the Big 4 offer many of the same accounting and auditing services as other banks, what sets them apart from other businesses in their field is their power in the sector. Not only do they employ the highest number of financial professionals, but they also earn record-number profits.

Before the 80s, the Big 4 were the Big 8, but through merges, only 4 remain. Together, the Big 4 firms make almost $200 billion a year, proving their massive wealth and influence.

5 Things Everyone Should Know About the Top Accounting Firms

For most accountants, the Big 4 accounting firms don’t need an introduction. But if you’re a new graduate who’s interested in applying to one of these companies, here’s what you should know.

#1 - Top Accounting Firms are Known for Long Hours

Large accounting firms are known for their grueling hours. While this was true in the past, the work environment in these firms has improved, and they’re taking strides to be even better in the future. No one should put up with poor work conditions, even for a decent career boost.

#2 - Top Accounting Firms Expedite Career Paths

In the past, many accountants felt that the harsh work conditions were worth it because working at a Big 4 firm proves credibility. At a Big 4 firm, accountants gain experience faster and can network with high-profile clients. This can make it easier for them to find other employment.

#3 - Top Accounting Firms Only Except The Most Qualified

To get hired at a top accounting firm, you need to have a degree from an accredited program. They prefer to choose people with an AACSB accreditation, which is only available at certain schools. They may also request a master’s degree (MBA) and a CPA or CFA certification.

#4 - Top Accounting Firms Offer Professional Development

Top accounting firms intend to hire and train the best of the best, but that doesn’t stop after the employee is onboarded. The Big 4 will offer plenty of additional courses and seminars that help keep their staff up-to-date. These firms put a lot of investment into their employees.

#5 - Top Accounting Firms Offer Sky-High Salaries

All of the schooling and experience you had to obtain is more than worth it in the end if you get hired at a Big 4 company. Even associates get paid $53,000 a year at the minimum, but as you move up the ladder, you’ll earn 6-figures. Partners make a quarter of a million a year or more.

In Conclusion…

Top accounting firms PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and KPMG are the most prestigious firms in the United States. With that status comes a high salary, plenty of connections, and impressive career growth if you manage to land a job inside their walls.