Deciding whether to specialize in audit or tax accounting is a choice that college majors need to make once they start their careers.

For some, the choice is easy. These students may instinctively have a sense of which discipline is the better fit for their personality and accounting career goals. Or, their accounting internships have given them enough information to guide them in the right direction.

For others, the choice of audit vs. tax for their accounting career is harder.

We asked a few team members in our own Audit & Accounting group how they decided to choose audit vs. tax. Here are three major themes we saw in their decisions:

1. A career in audit often involves more variety than a career in tax.

A career in audit for an accountant offers a diverse range of responsibilities, from examining financial statements, assessing internal controls, and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards. Auditors engage in comprehensive analyses of an organization's financial health and operational efficiency.

In contrast, a career in tax for an accountant often focuses more narrowly on tax laws and regulations, involving tasks such as preparing tax returns and offering tax planning advice, which may offer less variety compared to audit. With audit, you have some variety in your “change of scenery,” as our own Kreischer Miller accountants share:

“The reason I chose to practice under audit rather than tax is the change in scenery. You could be at a different client each week, learning about a different industry and how they do business. You could be in the client’s warehouse counting inventory and viewing the creation of their products. This change in scenery is what really helped me choose to practice audit over tax.”

Peter K., Senior Accountant

“I began my college internship experience by working part-time in the tax processing group at the firm. This provided me with a small glimpse into what working in tax would be like. After completing that internship, I decided that I wanted to get the full picture of public accounting by completing an audit internship. Once I began my audit internship, I really enjoyed the versatility of working in the field and meeting new clients every week. The change of scenery and working with different teams on a weekly basis is something that I really appreciate and the main reason why I chose to work in audit over tax.”

Tom F., Senior Accountant

“I chose audit over tax because I liked the idea of going to different clients and being in a different atmosphere. I also wanted to be exposed to the different industries and accounting issues pertinent to them.”

Carly B., Senior Accountant

2. Auditors often get more involved with clients.

Auditors in accounting often develop a deeper understanding of their clients as they extensively examine financial statements, internal controls, and operational processes during audits. This comprehensive analysis provides auditors with an intimate knowledge of the client's business operations and financial health.

In contrast, accountants in the tax profession may have a narrower focus, primarily dealing with tax compliance and planning, which may not involve the same level of in-depth exploration into the overall workings of the client's organization.

“I chose to work in audit because I liked the idea of going to different clients and learning how they operate. Going out to various client locations allows you to see different work environments and processes, which I find really interesting. While out at the client, you’re able to interact a lot with the employees, and catch up with them each time you’re there. I also preferred the work involved in audit as opposed to tax. All of this led me to realize that going into audit was the right choice for me.”

Debbie S., Senior Accountant

“I chose audit over tax because it was important for me to interact with clients. I was interested in learning about different companies and the ins and outs of their businesses. Once I got into audit, I felt as though I was making an impact on the client. I felt needed.”

Meghan D., Senior Accountant

3. An audit-focused accounting career often involves more team building.

Working in audit   fosters strong team-building skills as auditors often collaborate closely with teams and clients. Team-building is a crucial aspect of the work culture.

In contrast, tax accounting, may not inherently involve the same level of team synergy.

“Working in a team-oriented environment really fit my personality and it’s something that I have become very accustomed to.”

Tom F., Senior Accountant

“Even while working on engagements, you’ll be working with different seniors, managers, and directors and gaining more knowledge from them along the way.”

Peter K., Senior Accountant

Need Help Deciding? Consider Internships in Audit & Tax

Internships in both audit and tax can give you perspective on your preferences before graduating.

Engaging in an audit internship allows you to delve into the examination of financial records, internal controls, and overall business processes, fostering a comprehensive understanding of financial management.

On the other hand, a tax internship exposes you to the nuances of tax laws, compliance, and strategic planning, enabling them to discern their preferences and make informed career decisions before graduating.

An internship with Kreischer Miller offers you the opportunity to build your accounting skills and see firsthand what life is like in a public accounting firm, all while making valuable professional connections and having fun! Don’t just take our word for it — read this account from one of our interns here.

Apply for an accounting internship near Philadelphia, PA today.