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What is public accounting?

Accountants can either work in public or private accounting (industry). Basically, if an accountant works in public accounting, they would serve clients such a corporations, individuals, not-for-profit organizations, or governmental entities. If an accountant works in private accounting, they are performing internal accounting functions for their employer (help process financial transactions and prepare financial statements).

There are over 46,000 public accounting firms in the United States according to the AICPA. However, you can take it one step further and be an public accounting firm that is registered with the PCAOB. Only accounting firms that are registered with the PCAOB can perform audits of public companies that are required to issue financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commissions (“SEC)”. According the the PCAOB, there are 860 firms registered in the United States.


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