Why you should apply for graduate jobs in accounting instead of investment banking

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If you're a student who's looking for a finance-type job when you graduate and you've put all your eggs into the investment banking basket, a report out today might encourage you to think again. Investment banking graduate jobs are few and far between and investment banking internships are hard to convert into full time places. Accounting and professional services jobs, however, suffer neither of these faults.

How easy is it to get a graduate job in accounting?

It's not exactly easy. High Fliers research says 23 applications per graduate vacancy at accounting firms in 2018. This compared to 28 applications per vacancy for investment banking jobs. The investment banking figure is artificially low because students are encouraged to apply to internships. -  When intern applications are taken into account, big banks say they have 200 applicants for every vacancy.

How many graduate jobs are there for accountants in the UK? 

As the chart below shows, graduate jobs in accounting and professional services firms are some of the most plentiful. Not only that, but they increased in number in the UK last year, and they're expected to increase in number again this year. By comparison, the number of investment banking graduate jobs shrunk in the UK last year and this year's increase is expected to be pretty tepid.

How easy is it to convert a UK accounting internship into a graduate job? 

The other good news about accounting jobs, is that if you manage to secure an accounting internship, you're pretty likely to turn it into a graduate job. There were only 34 accounting interns for every 100 UK graduate accounting jobs in 2018. The implication is that accounting firms had a big incentive to turn as many of those interns into graduate hires as possible.

By comparison, investment banks hired 167 interns for every 100 graduate places in 2018, implying that only 67% of their interns are likely to turn their internship into a graduate job.

How much do you get paid in a graduate accounting job?

The only downside to graduate accounting jobs is the pay. In 2018 graduate starting salaries in the UK averaged £30k ($38.8). This was £17k less than graduates joining investment banks received. Moreover, the very best paid graduates in investment banks got £60k starting salaries last year. The very best paid graduates in accounting got £42k. Woe.

Average starting salaries for UK graduates 

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