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Noob Worries About Getting Boxed In By Super Specialized Business Line

Ed. note: If you have a question for the career advice brain trust, please don’t be put off by any snarky comments made in response to questions from others. There is no such thing as stupid questions, only stupid people. We love you.

Dear GC,

Recently I signed an offer to start with a large, multi-national firm in the Summer of ’12 as soon as I finish my MSA.  The pay is top of the market for my location (I know, thanks to your website).  The business line is very specialized tax–expatriate and foreign national work.  I did an internship with the firm, and enjoy the work immensely; however I am concerned that I am “boxing myself in” at such an early place in my career.  Opportunities for advancement are available within the firm, but I am worried that there may not be a life for me outside of public accounting with such a specialized skill set.  Question:  go with the flow or keep looking?  I like the work, but am I being short-sighted?



So sorry to see you don’t have the same problem as Jimmy Dean, but it sounds like your one offer is with a business line that you very much enjoy. So I ask – what the hell is wrong with that?

I understand that you feel concerned about “boxing” yourself in, but you made the biggest point yourself – this is early in your career. What is the worst that can happen to you? You fumble around in a Big4 tax group for a few years, get struck with the two year itch, and suddenly want out. So you do just that. You try out another Big4, or you do two seconds of research on Al Gore’s greatest invention and find a job elsewhere.

Do not second-guess your interest in the work you’ve been exposed to thus far. Those of you in the peanut gallery – what kind of options have you seen in recent years for someone in the same sitch as MMN? Share in the comments below.

Accounting Salaries Mapped by Region

Back again to decipher more of the data that you so graciously shared with us on our salary thread from December.

After noting that average Big 4 salaries and non-Big 4 salaries were essentially even, we now present the average regional salaries for you enjoyment or dismay:

Mid-Atlantic– $88,831

Northeast– $72,024

Southeast– $56,000

Midwest– $65,124

Southwest– $73,185

West – $64,706

Some analysis and the map, after the jump.

Surprisingly the Mid-Atlantic boasted the highest average salary based on the data collected. This was due primarily to two salaries that were reported from “JDs” working in “Washington National Tax.” The Mid-Atlantic average also included an Associate Director that reported a considerably higher salary than the average. If these three salaries are removed, the average salary is $76,254. which may be more in line with your expectations.

Another surprise that we saw was the higher than expected Southwest average salary. Again in this case, a brave Senior Manager in an advisory practice reported a much higher salary than most submitted. When this is removed the Southwest average comes down to $68,134, again, probably closer to what you would expect.

The Northeast, Southeast, and West all seem about right to us although we might have expected the West salaries to be a bit higher but then again we’re going with what we’ve got.

The map below shows how we grouped the states in the respective regions, with a few additional details on the regions.

An Open Thread on Accountants’ Salaries at the Big 4: What Do You Make?

money.jpgWe received a request over the weekend to discuss everyone’s favorite topic: money.

This is a great idea on many levels since A) it’s been quite some time since we’ve dedicated a post to the subject B) there are plenty of newbies that have started since then but mostly C) knowing what everyone else is making is your God-given right.

Hopefully, this new thread will get everyone up to speed (or just completely pissed off on a Monday) and ready to run through brick walls in 2010.
In the comments, provide the following:
• Salary without bonus, bonus amount
• Level
• Practice (audit/tax/advisory), practice subgroup
• Firm, city/region
• Other notes/complaints
The reader requesting the thread, was kind enough to provide their details:
• $52k, $3k (in start year, bonus was a whopping $0 this year)
• Associate 2
• Audit
• PwC, Northern California

This is an equal opportunity post so regardless of your firm, get your numbers out there (this means you: GT, BDO, RSM/M&P, Crowe, Moss Adams, anyone else).

UPDATE, Tuesday: Thanks for all the input so far. Feel free to email us if you want to give us more details on your salary or ideas or other related thread discussions.

Other money related discussions:
Problem of the Day: Do You Quit Your High-Paying Job with the Idiot Boss?
Satisfied with Your Salary?
Problem of the Day: Your Staff Makes the Same Money As You (Maybe More)

More Money Talk

money.jpgIn another follow up, we got a decent thread going last week when we brought up starting salaries for your soon-to-be new associates that will be messing up your dinner orders this fall and winter.
We got a request to open up the discussion to number crunchers at all levels so that everyone can get a good idea of who is paying what, where.
Our requester was kind enough to give their details: First year tax senior associate, Houston, Big 4 firm, makes $67k.
More, after the jump

Anonymous Coward 49 in last week’s thread segues nicely as well, listing the amounts for audit professionals at the Radio Station Dallas office for the associate and senior associate levels. Coward notwithstanding, we would say that they are well informed, so we don’t expect all of you give that level of detail but we would request the following:
Level – Associate, Senior, Manager, etc. We know there are partners reading so please, feel free to share and make us all jealous.
Practice – Audit, Tax, Advisory, Transaction Services, and Consulting for you Green-dotters.
City and Firm – We want details from every corner. If you’re a senior associate at Rothstein Kass or Miller Kaplan and you know you’re making bank compared to those Big 4 losers, let ’em know it.
All right, get on with it.