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​Industry vs. practice – which is the best option for your career in accountancy?

​Industry vs. practice – which is the best option for your career in accountancy?

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Whether you’re just starting out or are considering a career change, at some point you’ll face a major decision as an accountancy professional – practice, or industry?

There’s a lot to weigh up, starting with the nature of each particular role. If you choose practice, you’ll usually work with a wide portfolio of different clients. This can be challenging but fascinating work, with such variety that no two working days are the same.

But if you prefer to get stuck into just one particular project, industry could be the right route for you. By taking a role as an in-house specialist, you’ll focus all of your energies and talents on the one company. You’ll have an opportunity to make tangible, trackable achievements and a more steady and consistent working day.

However, the type of work isn’t the only thing separating industry and practice. Let’s take a look at a few of the other key considerations to bear in mind when making your decision…


Money is understandably a major priority for most people when choosing a career, and salary is also one of the main things that draws professionals towards industry work.

In a nutshell, industry tends to pay more than practice. Although, of course, it depends on the company, your experience and a handful of other factors.

It’s also worth remembering though that career management can be a long game, especially in accountancy. So, focusing solely on salary could mean missing out on amazing opportunities and experience.

Qualifications and training

Opportunities for training within industry are very depending on the company you work for. You’ll find that many companies will sponsor AAT qualifications, but you may need to land a role at a larger company with a bigger budget if you want senior levels of qualification. If you’re interested in the ACA qualification, you’ll struggle to find sponsorship for it within an industry role.

Practice, on the other hand, is quite different. Many firms usually have a major focus on providing support and study packages for a wide range of qualifications and training, including specialisms such as tax.

Career progression opportunities

Industry roles usually offer a clear career path, with the ultimate end goal of becoming a Financial Director for the company. There are also opportunities to get to grips with the business as a whole, rather than just the accountancy side of things. You can be involved in driving the growth of the company, rather than just leading a specialist team.

The career opportunities in practice are less clear-cut, but you’ll have the benefit of many more flexible, varied and specialist options.

You can shoot straight for the goal of becoming a partner within your firm, or starting your own. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the variety of work within practice to dip your toe into different specialisms and sectors. This could lead to an exciting opportunity to become a real specialist in a particular field, such as audit or tax for example.

In short, practice accountancy professionals have the chance to take more control over their career progression and development. If you’re proactive and open to opportunities, you can do great things with a career in practice.

There’s also the option to move from practice into industry, using skills and experience from the former to thrive in a company-focused role.

Considering a career change? Get in touch with our specialist accountancy and finance recruiters here at Sewell Wallis.




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