One of the most prominent areas of the field of accounting is tax preparation. As an aspiring accountant, you might wonder what it is like to work for a national tax preparation company like H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt.
Preparation and Day-to-Day Work
Neither a degree nor a certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) typically is necessary for job with a national tax preparation company. Instead, companies like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt offer their own income tax preparation courses. Students enroll in (and pay for) these courses as early as four to six months prior to tax season, often with no past accounting experience or education. Students who graduate near the top of the class in their tax preparation course are offered jobs with the company.
Many jobs with chain tax preparation services are seasonal. Some workers have flexible schedules and work only part-time, while others work many hours during the height of tax season. The typical job consists of preparing tax returns for customers, so the job varies little from one day to the next.
Pros and Cons of Working for a Tax Preparation Company
There are several ways in which working for a chain tax preparation company is different from working for an accounting firm. Some of these differences may seem like advantages, while others might be considered disadvantages. For example, candidates may consider it a benefit that it is far easier to find a job with a tax preparation company than it is to get one with a prestigious accounting firm. They don’t need the undergraduate degree, five years of college study, passing scores on the CPA exam, and experience that their counterparts competing for positions in a full-service accounting firm would need just to get hired.
On the other hand, tax preparers at the national chain companies often make far less money than the median annual salary of an accountant. Their pay may range from $8 to $10 or a little more rather than the $34.86 hourly wage that the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports is average for accountants. Because many positions are part-time or seasonal, jobs as tax preparers with these companies may not be consistent or well-paying enough to fulfill the goals of some candidates. Another disadvantage to this career choice is that aspiring accountants might find the work boring. Tax preparation is only one facet of the larger field of accounting, but professionals who are tax preparers only don’t have the opportunities to engage in other accounting work, like advising businesses on ways to cut costs and become more profitable.
National chain tax preparation companies, like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt, employ many tax preparers each tax season. However, a job as a tax preparer isn’t quite the same as a career as an accountant. Whether or not a job with a national chain tax preparation service is right for you depends on your personal career goals.