When you consider company size, and which one offers the best of everything — from salaries and benefits to technology and advancement opportunities — larger organizations tend to come to mind first. But for accounting professionals, one size does not fit all. Small, midsize and large firms all have their advantages and disadvantages.
This quick guide will give you an idea of some of the pros and cons of working for employers of each company size:
Pros and cons of working for large organizations
Pros: Generally speaking, larger firms offer higher starting salaries and more extensive perks and benefits, such as better health insurance plans or childcare options. Lateral movement is also more of a possibility at bigger companies. If at some point you’re looking to transfer to another department — or even to another city or country — a larger company will be more likely to have something suitable for you. Moreover, if you want access to the most current accounting software, a big firm is likely to have it.
Cons: It’s easier to get lost in the shuffle. You may also have to get approval from several levels of management before implementing new processes. Additionally, when it comes time for promotions, more coworkers will be competing with you to move up.
Want to compare salary ranges at small, midsize and large companies? Download our latest Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance for detailed salary information.
How about midsize organizations?
Pros: Midsize firms are more likely than smaller firms to have updated technology and accounting systems, and some provide employees the potential for lateral career moves. You may also be part of a tighter-knit group of coworkers than you would be if you were at a larger firm. Midsize organizations may also offer employees more flexible work options and a bit more autonomy than larger companies do, as the chain of command is shorter.
Cons: Most midsize firms won’t be able to compete with the salary and benefits — or the prestige — of bigger organizations.
Advantages, disadvantages of small organizations
Pros: Many smaller firms have a family feel, and that can be more important to some employees than a high pay scale or top-line benefits. It’s also commonplace for staff members to don multiple caps throughout the day, meaning you could gain experience in areas of accounting that would be outside your purview at a larger firm.
Cons: If you’re looking for professional development opportunities such as tuition matches or reimbursement for certification exam fees and professional memberships, you're less likely to find them here. In addition, your tech offerings are likely to be limited, and you may have to coordinate your time off around colleagues to avoid short-staffing the office.
Also, if you're interested in remote work, 68 percent of CFOs at companies with more than 1,000 employees see remote work opportunities on the rise — double the percentage of CFOs at companies with 20 to 49 employees (34 percent).
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Editor's note: This post was updated in 2016 to reflect more current information.