What Qualifications Do I Need to Get a Job with One of the “Big Four” Accounting Firms?

Accounting firms range from tiny one-person agencies to massive global corporations that employ upwards of 160,000 people and bring in billions of dollars in revenue each year. If you aspire to work for one of the Big Four accounting firms – Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers – then you must have the right qualifications. Though the field of accounting as a whole has a positive job outlook, positions as prestigious firms like the Big Four are very competitive, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Having an impressive résumé complete with good grades, remarkable extracurricular activities and the sought-after CPA certification can help you land your dream job.

Academic Achievement

The Big Four firms are seeking the best of the best to join their prestigious workforce, so having high grades is one way to quickly set yourself apart from applicants who are less academically accomplished. However, just because grades matter doesn’t mean that only students with perfect GPAs will ever get hired. Some experts say that the cutoff for getting a job with a Big Four auditing firm is 3.4, while others claim it’s 3.0, and still others state that even students with GPAs below 3.0 have a chance, as long as other aspects of their résumés make up for a less than stellar academic record.

Extracurricular Activities

Your grades aren’t the only factors that can set you apart from other candidates for jobs with the Big Four. The clubs you take part in, the leadership roles you hold in organizations and even your work experience can boost your résumé substantially. If you head a community service organization or direct your school’s chapter of a professional fraternity, recruiters from the Big Four accounting firms will be able to see from your résumé that you possess strong, tested leadership skills. Your work experience, even outside the field of accounting, can show your dedication and ability to manage multiple responsibilities like school and work. If you were able to complete an internship with a prestigious auditing firm, Big Four recruiters will realize that you had the opportunity to develop your skills under the supervision of experienced accounting professionals. 

CPA Certification

Taking the four-part test to earn certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is one way to build up your résumé for a position with a Big Four auditing firm – or, for that matter, with any accounting firm. Even if you’re not yet a CPA, preparing for your certification can help you attain an entry-level position with one of the Big Four firms.

High grades, impressive extracurricular and work experience and a CPA certification can all help you reach your goal of working for a Big Four firm. However, your résumé is only one part of the equation. Knowing how to network and interact with others, like recruiters, is necessary to get an interview with a Big Four firm in the first place.

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