5 Advantages to Getting an Accounting Position in the Public/Government Sector

accountants in public/government sector

5 Reasons Accountants Should Look for Jobs in the Public/Government Sector

  • Public Transportation Subsidy
  • Student Loan Forgiveness
  • Master’s Degree = Higher Pay
  • Work/life Balance
  • Forensic Accounting Roles

The world of public accounting comes with many perks. Government accountants can enjoy ample time off, help with paying down student loans and a chance to use a forensic accounting degree. While private sector accounting tends to pay more cash, it isn’t worth the rat-race. To better understand the benefits of working for Uncle Sam, here are 5 advantages to getting an accounting position in the public/government sector:

Public Transportation Subsidy

Government employees at both state and federal jobs are often eligible for a public transportation subsidy. The federal subsidy for public transit amounts to $90 per month. In many areas, $90 is enough to cover the full cost of a monthly unlimited pass. Keep in mind that the federal government often negotiates fare discounts from transportation providers to ensure employees can buy a pass for less than $90. It doesn’t take a forensic accounting degree to realize how expensive private vehicle ownership can be. Depreciation, gas, insurance and parking costs add up to a big expense. This benefit of public accounting work equals big savings.

Student Loan Forgiveness

Most federal employees are eligible for federal student loan forgiveness programs. These programs are designed to further reward people who choose to work in the public sector by easing their student loan burden. This can result in tens of thousands of dollars in savings. The Office of Personnel Management has a complete guide on how public sector accountants can pay off student loans.

Master’s Degree = Higher Pay

Because it takes 150 credit hours to become a certified public accountant, or CPA, it’s common for accountants to earn a master’s degree. Public positions pay more for graduate-degree holders. For most positions, it doesn’t matter if the applicant has a master’s of business administration (MBA) with a focus in accounting or an M.S. in Accounting Sciences. Most federal jobs use a standardized scale, called the General Schedule, to determine pay rates for employees. Newly hired employees with master’s degree start one or two steps higher on the pays scale. Combined with the student loan forgiveness benefits, a government accounting job can offer serious financial benefits.

Work/life Balance

According to efinancialcareers, the Big Four accounting firms come with a big commitment to giving up personal time. These firms are known for their demanding environments, poor incentives, excessive time away from family and frequent travel. By contrast, government accountants are almost guaranteed a 40-hour work week, paid time off, a plethora of holidays and great benefits packages. Many offices even offer work-from-home options to seasoned employees. Government supervisors also encourage employees to use their annual leave balances to ensure employees stay healthy and productive, unlike Big Four firms that often frown on employees who use their accrued paid time off.

Forensic Accounting Roles

The US government offers many forensic accounting career tracks. Government agencies like including the FBI, IRS, and CIA need trained forensic accountants. Many departments have an investigative department, usually called the Office of the Inspector General, or OIG. Each OIG unit needs forensic accounts to prevent fraud and sniff off budget errors. The ability to use auditing and investigative skills together is extremely valuable to government agencies, and public employees in forensic accounting tend to see higher pay than their counterparts. Best of all, these roles give employees a high sense of satisfaction. This comes from the fulfillment of performing civic duties and helping to better society.

Concluding Thoughts

On the spreadsheet of life, most employees want balanced rows and organized columns. A government accounting role makes the numbers add up to a fulfilling, well-rewarded worklife.

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