If you’re deeply interested in working in the public sector, and enjoy working with numbers, then we have some great news: there's a lucrative and satisfying career where you can do both such things. Public Sector Accounting is a large part of the professional services industry both nationally and abroad, so take a look at our guide and see if it's for you.
What is public sector accounting?
Public sector accounting is its own specialism and even has its own qualifications. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) trains accountants specifically for the third sector.
Why is it used?
The government, both local and central, and charities don’t operate like corporates, and their responsibilities are very different. They’re not worrying about shareholder return or profit margins, but they do have hundreds of billions of pounds passing through their hands which need to be spent, saved and invested in the right way.
Why is public sector accounting a good career choice?
This branch of accountancy will see you either working directly for an organisation, or based within a private firm with public sector clients. It’s an opportunity to be involved in the running of the country or working for a cause which matters to you, with the benefits of an accountancy professional. What's more, promotional opportunities are excellent, with the potential to reach director or C-suite level.
Who would enjoy it?
A basic requirement is the enjoyment of working with numbers, data and analysis. You’ll be an individual who’s tenacious and wants to pursue detail to minute extremes. With public sector accounting, you’ll also employ lateral thinking and diplomacy – there are a lot of different stakeholders in the third sector. If you find you like going into detail in lab reports, or balancing team members on projects, then you could have the right attitude for this career.
How to impress on a public sector accounting application
The usual advice for accountancy applies here, you’ll want to demonstrate high levels of numeracy, either with your degree choice and grades, or through extra-curricular activities. On top of that, volunteer with student societies or charities in a finance officer capacity as this will be a great introduction to the level of detail you’ll need.
Sound like a career you might be interested in? Browse graduate jobs in public sector accounting and take the next steps towards your career progression.