Are the average number of hours worked in the Accounting and Finance fields higher than other fields?

I have a friend who has been studying graduate-level accounting and is preparing to begin his career proper. His college workload has been absurdly enormous throughout all of college, and he's had distressingly terrible school/life balance for years. He believes that things will be similar with his work/life balance once he obtains a job in that field. He expects that the norm will be to work massive overtime as a default, and that busy seasons will be even worse. He has adopted a sort of fatalism, resigning himself to a life of misery that will be ongoing until retirement.

What advice can I give my friend? Are his fears unfounded, or at least exaggerated? What can he do to avoid finding positions with heavy hours, and find a how much harder is that in his field?

  • @JoeStrazzere He believes that finding a job that allows only 40 hours per week in this field is impossible, and that this field has much higher hours overall than others. I want to know if this is true, and what can be done to find jobs with lower hours. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 12:14
  • @JoeStrazzere If you believe that sunk cost is a logical fallacy in this case, perhaps that could make a good answer Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 12:20
  • @JoeStrazzere You are taking for granted assumptions that are the crux of my question. My friend and I both are unsure if "he will find this out", or what he should do. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 13:18
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 13:20
  • @JoeStrazzere I appreciate the sentiment. Again, this sounds like a good answer. I am trying very hard to make this a valid, opened question. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


I also have a good friend who, as a tax adviser, works a 60+ hour week and is always on the verge of collapsing, so I can relate.

Unfortunately, keeping your work-life-balance is mostly something you have to just do, for yourself. It is much like smoking, peer pressure can lead to it, but you have to want to stop it for yourself.

You can encourage him and reassure him that he does not have to play the "who stays in the office the longest" game. But it is only himself who can stop him from working overtime.

Edit: As pointed out in the comments, choosing the right workplace can help (ie, don´t hang out around other smokers, if you want to quit). Only it is hard to determine that beforehand. You can ask if overtime is normal and expected during your interview and take their reaction as a hint. Having a Contract that clearly states all overtime must be paid, with a bonus preferably, will also help.

In effect, nobody can force you to work constant overtime. You may not have the best social standing at your workplace when you don´t, and others may have a better chance of promotions but normally if you are clear about this from the beginning it gets accepted in most organisations.

  • Joe, you are right, I have encountered pretty relaxed accountants at some of my workplaces and also pretty stressed-out ones.
    – Daniel
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 11:17
  • Yes, for instance: I talked with my friend about the possibility to hire at a company instead of working at an advisory office, but he fears it will be boring. So I guess he does not want to quit his working habits and instead, keep complaining and feeling important.... On the other hand, he also has colleagues who come at 9,leave at 5 and call in sick whenever they have the smallest illness.
    – Daniel
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 11:31

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