Private Equity Accountants and Auditors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Classes in accounting, mathematics, statistics, business, economics, and computer science (especially database management) will provide you with excellent preparation for college and an eventual career in accounting or auditing. As an accountant or auditor, you’ll be required to write detailed reports and present your findings and recommendations orally to financial managers. Take English and speech classes to develop effective communication skills.

Postsecondary Education

You’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, economics, finance, or business administration to work as an accountant or auditor at a private equity firm. Some employers prefer candidates that have a master’s degree in accounting, business administration, economics, or finance.

AACSB International accredits colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting and business. Visit https://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/accredited-schools for a list of accredited programs.

The Institute of Internal Auditors has created a formal endorsement program for colleges and universities that offer an internal auditing curriculum within a degree program (undergraduate or postgraduate). Visit https://na.theiia.org/about-us/about-ia/pages/participating-iaep-program-schools.aspx for a list of schools that offer this curriculum. 

Other Education or Training

Participating in continuing education (CE) classes is a great way to keep your skills up to date and learn about new developments in accounting and auditing. Additionally, CE credits may be required to renew your certification. Many professional associations provide CE opportunities. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers more than 350 self-study courses, web events, and more than 60 annual conferences and workshops. Recent offerings included Effective Business Communication, Covid-19 Audit Implications, and SECURE Act: A Seismic Shift in Your Clients' Tax and Financial Plans. The Institute of Internal Auditors provides on-site seminars and webinars on topics such as soft skills (e.g., communication, creative problem solving, etc.), finance and compliance, the internal audit processes, risk management, and technology. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Emerging Markets Private Equity Association, and Institute of Management Accountants also provide professional development opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.


Certificate programs provide an excellent way to advance your skills in a short period of time. Such programs are offered by the following associations:

  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (business accounting)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (international auditing and international financial reporting)
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (International Financial Reporting Standards). 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

In-demand professional credentials for accountants and auditors include:

  • certified internal auditor (Institute of Internal Auditors)
  • certified management accountant (Institute of Management Accountants)
  • certified public accountant (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, AICPA)
  • chartered global management accountant (a joint venture of the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)

Additionally, some professionals in this field earn the following certifications: 

  • accredited business accountant/advisor, accredited tax preparer, accredited tax advisor (Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation)
  • certification in control self-assessment, certified financial services auditor, certification in risk management assurance (Institute of Internal Auditors)
  • certified financial manager (Institute of Management Accountants)
  • certified treasury professional, certified corporate financial planning and analysis professional (Association of Financial Professionals)

A large percentage of accountants are certified public accountants (CPAs). Those who receive this designation have passed a qualifying examination and hold a certificate issued by the state in which they wish to practice. The Uniform CPA Examination, which is administered by the AICPA, is used by all states. Nearly all states require at least two years of public accounting experience or the equivalent before a CPA certificate can be earned.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Completion of at least one internship or co-op in college is highly recommended to prepare for entry-level accounting and auditing positions. Specialized positions, such as those in private equity, require at least one year of on-the-job experience at an alternative investment firm or investment bank.

To be a successful accountant or auditor, you’ll need strong mathematical, analytical, organizational, communication, and problem-solving skills; the ability to work both independently and as a member of a team; and a willingness to work in a fast-paced and sometimes stressful environment. You also must be honest and have strong ethics. Accountants and auditors must be experts in the use of accounting software and databases and office software (e.g., PowerPoint, Excel, and Word), and have knowledge of financial reporting and financial products (e.g., equities, futures, etc.).