The aim of this article is to explore the impact of Australian accounting education on the career development of Chinese self‐initiated repatriates (SIRs) in different business settings. It is acknowledged in the literature that international education has an impact on the career development of SIRs. However, in this study, we explore the impact in terms of professional knowledge, qualifications and international exposure. A multi‐case study was conducted with Chinese SIRs in different industries in an effort to understand the specific impacts and potential adverse effects across different types of enterprises in China. Our research found that international accounting knowledge has a positive influence on individuals’ careers, especially in foreign enterprises. Skills obtained from international experience are highly valued in the foreign financial industry, while the CPA qualification is highly valued in accounting firms. Readjustment, competition from local counterparts and employers’ unreasonable expectations do have adverse effects. By analysing how SIRs’ professional knowledge in accounting disciplines has impacted their job performance in different industries, this article not only contributes to contemporary literature from a direct perspective but also presents practical recommendations regarding Chinese and Australian professional education.