September 17, 2021

Accounting Salaries Are Dead Even; Is Big 4 Work Experience the Difference?

Last month we opened a thread on your salaries and your response was impressive. Just for fun, we found some poor soul to crunch some of the numbers so that we might share some information on the data we gathered.

We’ll start off with a post facing off the Big 4 salary against non-Big 4 salary. Here are the average salaries for each based on the data we collected:

Non-Big 4 – $72,136

Big 4 – $71,166


If you getting worked up over less than a $1,000 difference, then you’re more shrewd than we imagined. For the more reasonable of you, the discussion is, what are the unmentionables here? Both Big 4 and non-Big 4 firms have their advantages and many of you have made the jump from Big 4 to non-Big 4; non-Big 4 to Big 4; Big 4 to non-Big 4 back to Big 4, whatever.

A popular argument is that the Big 4 work experience is irreplaceable on a resumé but is it? Will potential employers really pick someone with a Big 4 background the majority of the time?

Most people would agree that auditing is auditing and the tax law is the same no matter where you work. Smaller firms have just a many unique clients as large firms so there’s experience to be gained everywhere.

Now before you start shouting, “if you want a job at a Fortune 500 company, blah, blah, blah” how many of those jobs are really out there? Enough so that everyone that has left a Big 4 firm will be able to find a job? Let’s not pretend we all have the same ambitions here.

Last month we opened a thread on your salaries and your response was impressive. Just for fun, we found some poor soul to crunch some of the numbers so that we might share some information on the data we gathered.

We’ll start off with a post facing off the Big 4 salary against non-Big 4 salary. Here are the average salaries for each based on the data we collected:

Non-Big 4 – $72,136

Big 4 – $71,166


If you getting worked up over less than a $1,000 difference, then you’re more shrewd than we imagined. For the more reasonable of you, the discussion is, what are the unmentionables here? Both Big 4 and non-Big 4 firms have their advantages and many of you have made the jump from Big 4 to non-Big 4; non-Big 4 to Big 4; Big 4 to non-Big 4 back to Big 4, whatever.

A popular argument is that the Big 4 work experience is irreplaceable on a resumé but is it? Will potential employers really pick someone with a Big 4 background the majority of the time?

Most people would agree that auditing is auditing and the tax law is the same no matter where you work. Smaller firms have just a many unique clients as large firms so there’s experience to be gained everywhere.

Now before you start shouting, “if you want a job at a Fortune 500 company, blah, blah, blah” how many of those jobs are really out there? Enough so that everyone that has left a Big 4 firm will be able to find a job? Let’s not pretend we all have the same ambitions here.

Latest Accounting Jobs--Apply Now:

Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.

Related articles

Public Accounting Firms Don’t Need to Increase Salaries to Retain Staff Says Guy Who Obviously Never Worked In Public Accounting

In the 12 years since this website was founded, we’ve heard a lot of complaints from accounting students and early career public accountants. A LOT. Many things have changed since 2009, but one thing has remained consistent all these years and it’s the overwhelming sentiment that public accountants are paid far too little for the […]