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Top 10 Graduate Employers for Accounting Students

Ian Cooper

Career Counsellor

Looking to put your shiny new accounting degree to use? Let’s get you pointed in the right direction with a walkthrough of the top 10 accounting firms for a fresh grad looking to start a great career.

Joining any firm on this list will challenge you. You’ll be surrounded by talented, capable colleagues and can look forward to long hours, fast-paced work, and high expectations from managers who value results.

However, you’ll be diving into a world of opportunity. Every company ranked below will push you to grow your skillset and add long-term cachet to your CV. Most are also massive multinational institutions that can open doors for you that transcend borders.

Plus, many of our top 10 employers offer graduate programs — specialised training meant to help ease your transition into the workforce and give you an early boost in climbing the corporate ladder. If available, we highly recommend applying.

Please note that our rankings are based on our overall Top 100 graduate employers list, which incorporates factors like reputation, reviews by recent hires, and each firm's performance across metrics like culture, salary, work environment, and diversity.

Let’s get started.

1) Deloitte Australia

Perhaps the best-known accounting firm in the world, Deloitte Australia can give you a great start to your career. A giant multinational, Deloitte is one of the 'Big 4' professional service organisations, along with KPMG, PwC and EY, and provides a suite of services that also include management consulting, strategy, and legal.

Our reviewers give the company high marks overall. Some also praise Deloitte’s award-winning 12-month Graduate Learning Academy, which brings graduate hires together for coaching, training, feedback, and networking.

One commenter on our review page mentions Deloitte's excellent collaborative environment, saying they were impressed with "the amount of support your colleagues and Deloitte as a whole provides. [There's] always room for progression at Deloitte with numerous networking opportunities."

You will want to note that current team members are less impressed with typical salary offers for graduate roles. For most, though, that’s not a dealbreaker. “It's not the highest grad pay of all the Big 4, but the culture really makes up for it,” observes one reviewer.

To increase your chances of being accepted into the Deloitte graduate program, one of the best things you can do is a Deloitte (or any other) internship. Work experience will help set you apart from other accounting students vying for graduate jobs. 

For example, Deloitte runs a 3-8 week paid summer vacation program that gives stand-out attendees a chance at a full-time offer. Even if you're not handed a spot straight away, the knowledge and experience you'll gain will strongly benefit any future application.

If you do earn a position at Deloitte, you'll be part of what one reviewer describes as an "amazing and supportive company culture. Friendly, helpful, and culturally diverse team members. Flat hierarchy high on collaboration and teamwork."

2) PwC Australia

A second Big 4 firm, PwC (short for PricewaterhouseCoopers) offers a range of professional services and employs roughly a quarter-million people worldwide, including 8000 or so in Australia. In addition to accounting, the company also operates in related fields like consulting, mergers and acquisitions, and legal. 

Many appreciate the company’s culture. PwC has some of the most rigorous diversity targets in corporate Australia, mandating that at least 40 percent of new partners be women and at least 30 percent be from a “diverse cultural background”. 

The company also offers flexible work options and strives to help employees feel a sense of balance in their lives. That said, it also has a strong 'work hard, play hard' reputation, so you can expect that you’ll need to put in the time in order to succeed.

One reviewer summed this up as a “genuinely positive culture, although long hours working alone are frequent.” In general, many of the respondents felt you need to work long hours in order to advance your career, although some felt that the company's support for working from home or working your own hours made this easier to accomplish.

There are a number of graduate programs on offer, including the year-long graduate program, vacation program, trainee program and tech academy.

“One of the greatest things about working at PwC is that we gain exposure to various industries and expertise,” says Tony Cui, an assurance consultant with PwC. “This is not only because we work with clients from diverse industries, but also because the firm really invests in its people and their growth.”

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3) KPMG Australia

Another of the huge international Big 4 professional services firms, KPMG Australia gives you options to kickstart your career.

By participating in either their 12-month KPMG Graduate Program or 4-8 week Vacation Program, you’ll build key capabilities to enhance your prospects and improve your ability to move up the corporate ladder. These programs will introduce you to the seven KPMG career pathways: audit and assurance, engineering, finance, risk, strategy and operations, tax and legal, and technology and digital.

KPMG is known for its friendly management style, something that is strongly evident in our reviews. “The partners, managers and seniors are all readily accessible most of the time,” says one graduate reviewer. “There's multiple ways to get performance feedback and in-charges are happy to give you on the spot feedback and also delayed feedback.”

Another of KPMG's pluses is the exposure graduates get to a variety of consulting opportunities. “The broad spectrum of work in different areas is good,” graduate Casey Taylor explains. “I could be working on infrastructure privatisations, IPOs, small companies… I get to work across a lot of different areas.”

The hours will be long, but you may be able to work from home or have some flexibility in deciding on your schedule. Generally, long workdays tend to fall in the busy period around 30 June, while the rest of the year “seems pretty laid back,” according to one reviewer.

If you’re looking to stand out during the hiring process, consider these words of advice from Vimal Singh, a risk consultant at KPMG. “I cannot stress this enough: take leaps and get involved... The competition in whichever industry you’re in is guaranteed to be vicious and each experience adds a further element of uniqueness that’ll make you stand out, whilst also teaching you skills that can be transferred in some form into a professional setting.”

4) EY Australia

EY Australia is part of global powerhouse EY, the final member of the Big 4. The company offers job opportunities for fresh grads across a range of roles as well as a graduate program to help you boost your skills.

Emily Bateman, an EY graduate program participant, says: "This program taught me the value of building relationships, teaming and above all balancing work and fun. The relationships I developed helped immensely with my transition to working life."

You can also get to know the company by participating in a vacationer program. Says program graduate and current team member Andrew Baker, "EY is a great place to work if you are unsure of what you want to do with your career as there are so many different things you can try. I would definitely recommend the vacationer program at EY (after all, I did come back as a graduate)."

Concerns among our reviewers were typical for the industry, including uninspiring salary and a ‘work-till-the-job-is-done’ mentality that can lead to long hours in the office. However, the company gets higher marks for diversity and inclusion, and at least one reviewer described the EY culture as “Awesome.”

If you apply to a role at EY, expect to participate in some initial cognitive and behavioural assessments online. You'll then be invited to attend a group interview. "The interview process and assessments were interactive, engaging and fairly assessed my abilities," says one EY graduate and reviewer.

"We are looking for candidates who are agile, display growth mindsets and have excellent problem-solving skills," says EY campus recruitment senior consultant Caitlin Stewart. "We value candidates who display a keen interest and thorough understanding of the team they are applying for, and who keep up-to-date with developments in the tech and finance world."

5) Pitcher Partners

“Join for the role, stay for the culture,” urges Pitcher Partners, an Australia-wide national association of independent firms that is the eighth-largest accounting and business advisory service in the country.

To give fresh grads a leg up, the company launched a new graduate program in 2021. If accepted, you’ll begin a two-year course of on-the-job training and mentoring divided into three eight-month experiences in different practice areas.

"We really want our graduates to come out of their graduate program very well-rounded, highly connected, knowing lots of people around the firm and having had a really broad experience," Ashley Davidson, partner at Pitcher Partners says in the firm's introductory video. "We know how valuable that is as people develop through their careers."

Grad employees give the company high marks. One raves that “The culture is fantastic. There is a great emphasis on being taught deep technical skills and the other people in my team are always happy to answer questions and put in a little extra time training you so you understand the task and where it fits in the greater picture, not just so you can get it done.”

You should be aware, though, that at least one reviewer found the uneven workflow to be a challenge, stating that “The nature of professional services and advisory is that there are really busy times and really quiet times. The fluctuation in workload can make it difficult at times.”

6) McGrathNicol

Specializing in advisory and restructuring, McGrath Nicol is a smaller firm with offices only in Australia and New Zealand that stands out thanks to high scores for management and workplace culture. The company also makes an effort to emphasize diversity and inclusion in the work environment. 

One graduate describes the company’s training program as “solid.” Another notes that, “We have a grad camp that goes through the basics, fortnightly check-ups with managers to ask any questions plus a variety of other training courses that are run throughout the year.”  

The company sets straightforward expectations for those hoping to move up in the ranks. “There is a clear progression pathway at McGrathNicol,” says graduate accountant Chloe Miller. “After developing my skill set and experiencing a range of projects, I hope to progress to a management role.”

However, you can expect a demanding workload. Some employees are also less enthusiastic about the company’s sustainability profile (lots of paper gets used) but one reviewer notes that managers are transitioning workflows to all-digital.

To stand out in the McGrathNicol recruitment process, current team members suggest that you get to know everything you can about the firm and its priorities. Spend time on the website, talk to graduate hires when possible and take the time to prepare for your interview and think about how you can add value.

7) RSM Australia

RSM Australia is part of the world's sixth-largest audit, tax and consulting company. However, the firm maintains a lighter footprint in Australia, which means you’ll have room to make your mark as a graduate hire. 

Employees report a laid-back, people-oriented work environment that offers flexibility and support for new team members, including an 8.2 out of 10 for career prospects and 8.9 for workplace culture on our survey. “The company culture is unmatched, we practically become family," says one graduate reviewer. “No matter what level you are at, you are encouraged to walk in and talk with any partner or manager at any time!”

“While RSM is quite a large firm, they also have a very personal and hands-on approach and promote teamwork within the divisions,” agrees RSM graduate accountant Nicole Moffatt. “I have been fortunate enough to work directly with employees from all levels at RSM, including partners and principals who are more than willing to give their time and pass on some of their expert skills and experience gained over the years.”

The company offers a 12-month graduate program that's packed with professional development opportunities. RSM also provides ongoing training, mentoring and coaching, buddy programs, and payment of chartered accounting qualifications and professional membership fees.

If you want to get a foot in the door, RSM business advisory accountant Chelsea Dryland recommends applying to the 4-8 week paid vacation program. “Work experience is the best way to gain an understanding of the workforce and ultimately figure out what you enjoy,” she says.

8) BDO

BDO's summer vacation program was one of the best things I could have done to prepare myself for the world of work,” enthuses Hannah Bolton, an accountant with BDO's business services unit. She notes that the program not only helped her get acclimated to working at BDO, but gave her clarity on choosing a professional focus area.

While less well known than some larger competitors, BDO aims to stand out in the accounting field. The company believes that it differentiates itself by focusing on delivering relationships, resources and responsiveness, while current team members report that you can expect to feel valued, supported and trusted with significant work opportunities. 

One reviewer says that, “[I'm] very happy with my managers, they are very accessible (talk every day). Great mentors, very knowledgeable and very happy to be learning from them. Feedback is good, I am told what areas I am doing well in and not so well in through highly constructive feedback.”

Keira Clark shares that while she joined a small accounting firm after graduating, she quickly applied to BDO after hearing good things from friends working at the company. “I'm so pleased I was successful,” she says. “The culture at BDO is amazing.”

You should remember that you'll work long hours during tax time (BDO only scored 6.8 out of 10 for working hours) and your compensation may not be ideal (6 for salary). However, for many reviewers, the cultural environment outweighs these negatives.

Clark says that prospective graduates also shouldn't worry too much about the recruitment process. “BDO puts you at ease straight away and it's really a snapshot into the collaborative and welcoming culture that exists here.”

9) KordaMentha

A smaller company, KordaMentha makes our list because of its high marks on our survey of graduate employees. It scores particularly well in workplace culture (8.9 out of 10); management and office work environment (both 9.1) and work hours (8.5).

Some reviewers rave about the management style at KordaMentha. “Very accessible, great communication and leadership. Great mentor program,” says one. 

“You need only approach anyone, even up to partner level and they will make time to discuss your performance and provide feedback, or just have a catch up in general,” another reviewer notes.

KordaMentha runs both a year-long graduate program and a four-eight week summer vacationer program. They recruit graduates directly into four key specialist areas: real estate, forensic accounting, restructuring and forensic technology. Graduates immediately become part of a team and learn on the job, as well as undertaking both in-house and external training and study.

Internships can also be an excellent pathway to a more permanent role with the company. “Participate in internship programs towards the end of your degree,” advises Xavier Power, a senior business analyst at KordaMentha. “You gain industry experience and it puts you in a better position when applying for jobs after university.”

10) Grant Thornton

Operating in 135 countries, including roughly 1,500 employees and partners in Australia, Grant Thornton has a strong reputation built around an appealing work culture and diverse team.

“The support for grads has been great, the culture is extremely positive and inclusive and there are so many resources and people to talk to which makes settling into a new role much smoother,” says one graduate review. “Plenty of opportunities to socialise and get outside of your comfort zone, and the office space is lovely.”

That said, managers at Grant Thornton set a high bar for performance and diligence. As with any accounting firm, you can expect to work long hours at a fast tempo, especially during the audit season, and may find yourself feeling overwhelmed at times. 

The company does work hard to support team members through busy periods, though. "GT has a very open work culture with genuine care elements integrated within the fabric of the company," explains one reviewer. “It has a flat hierarchy structure with partners and associates all sitting at the same desks and chairs. This allows for a more approachable workplace.”

If it's a clear career progression and comprehensive training that you're after, Grant Thornton’s graduate program is a good one. The program offers options for specialisation, strong mentoring and coaching, and a variety of work placements. “The real-world knowledge I’ve acquired in less than a year of work is phenomenal, and it’s awesome to be learning things that people actually use in real life,” says Lachie Strathmore, a tax and advisory associate at the company.

Fellow associate James Dang agrees. “Grant Thornton has supported my learning and development through funding my further studies with both the chartered tax adviser (CTA) and chartered accountants (CA) programs,” he says. ”I am really fortunate enough to be working with a group of people who appreciate my contributions and reciprocate this by taking an interest in my ongoing development.”

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