Industry vs Practice Accounting: Which is Right For You?

Choosing between industry accounting or practice accounting is a major career decision – whether you’re newly qualified or a veteran in the industry.

Both career paths utilise different skill sets and more importantly, require a different mindset. Each career path also has its own individual advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important that you consider which is right for you in the long-term.

Below we explore the main differences between industry accounting and practice accounting, the benefits that each field offers and why you might choose one over the other.

What is industry accounting?

At its core, industry accounting is when you join a company in-house, managing their finance and accounting needs. This applies to any company and isn’t relative to a single industry, you might be working in accounting for a retail business or a company operating in manufacturing or media advertising.

In an industry role, you’ll likely be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Managing budgets for the company
  • Conducting financial analysis and forecasting for the business
  • Preparing financial statements and performing day-to-day financial operations
  • Providing advice to senior leadership or management
  • Supporting the wider business in financial matters including budgeting, invoicing and financial strategy

What are the benefits of industry accounting?

Working industry accounting offers several benefits that you wouldn’t find in the majority of roles:

Career Opportunities

Industry accountants generally have the opportunity to work in a variety of roles, sectors and industries. Candidates choosing this field will generally have a skill set that allows them to operate across multiple fields which offers more opportunity for choice when it comes to finding new roles.

Industry stability

Accounting and finance roles for a single company are generally more stable as you’re working for an individual company. Generally, when working in industry, you’re typically more ingrained within a single company and operate under their guidelines.

Career progression

Depending on the company you’re working for – plus your individual performance – working in industry can offer more opportunities for career progression quickly. Industry provides the opportunity to build relationships and network, which generally leads to faster progression for established members of the team. 

Balance in lifestyle and working

When you work in industry, financial professionals generally deal with the same deadlines and pressure. Because you’re working for the same company each time, you’ll quickly understand how they operate and what that means for your workload over time.

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What is Practice Accounting?

Practice accounting is when a financial professional works for a firm specialising in accounting or finance providing financial services for clients. Depending on the company, you could be working for small sole traders or large multinational companies.

In a practice role, you’ll be responsible for performing the following responsibilities:

  • Conducting audits for clients
  • Analysing and preparing tax returns
  • Delivering advisory services for clients related to accounting or financial services
  • Providing support around accounting, finance or tax legislation


As you’d imagine, practice accounting offers more variety during day-to-day operations, which results in more opportunities for building experience across multiple sectors or disciplines.

What are the benefits of practice accounting?

Working practice accounting offers several benefits that you wouldn’t find in the majority of roles:

Learning and Development

Operating in a practice environment offers specifically more opportunities for learning and development across the wider market. Working in industry generally means you know a lot about a specific industry – working in practice means you’ll learn more about how the entire industry works and develop an understanding of different niches.

Earning potential

Depending on your individual performance and the size of the practice, there’s more opportunity to rapidly earn more money, particularly if you attain a partner or director title. Since practice accountants generally work with a wide range of clients, the ceiling for earnings is usually much higher than working for a single company.


As with any situation where you work with a variety of clients, practice accounting offers many more opportunities for building a network with key stakeholders. This can result in building exposure to different business models, how different companies operate or even key names in the sector. Effective networking is usually a major contributor to career development, especially in a field such as finance or accounting – making practice a great way of building out both your experience and contact book.


Increasingly we’re seeing young professionals moving roles because they’re seeking a new challenge. There’s no denying that working industry generally means operating under a single set of guidelines that persists across your career – you’ll always be facing the same problems and performing the same routine, which may impact your motivation or morale.

Working in practice offers a different challenge every day, meaning you have a broader range of opportunities to develop experience in certain situations and typically, supports the development of problem-solving skills.

Should I choose industry or practice? 

The type of accounting that you choose depends on your individual circumstances. Both roles offer pros and cons, depending on your experience in the field, your individual skills and your long-term goals.

If you want a predictable routine and a role where you’re focused on a single business, industry will generally be a better option for you. As we’ve mentioned previously, industry is typically better for career development, although you can expect to progress at a slower rate depending on the size of the business.

If you’re looking for a variety of work opportunities, want to build experience across multiple industries or earn more money, practice will typically be a better fit. Likewise, if you have aspirations of starting your own business, practice will deliver the experience you need to build a good foundation.

Depending on the move you’re looking to make, AD Finance can help. We have a dedicated team of specialists that operate across the practice industry ready to help you make the most of your financial and accounting career. Want to know more about roles in the practice industry? Explore our specialist team today.

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