Prior to training to become accountant, it’s advisable to take the faster route into this career, by working towards an AAT qualification. This will get you into the field as an Accounts Technician. This type of work will see you directly working beside an already qualified accountant, assisting them with their administrative duties.
The vast majority of accountants will enter their profession through this route, and it’s usually for financial reasons to help towards the cost of training.
There’s a more fundamental reason to benefit from this approach, and that’s the work experience you get. You can only get a real insight into accountancy when you get a glimpse inside what the job really entails. Without seeing it firsthand, you could train to become an accountant for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps with high expectations of the salary you’ll be getting, the work only including audits of company files, file them and fill in the end of year tax returns, getting paid highly for your skills.
There are more skills you need, and it’s why it will take you years in training before you even begin to apply for a job as a qualified accountant. At least with the Accounts Technician job, you’ll be in a position to have suitable work experience, making it easier for you to find employment after you graduate.
The first (advisable) step is to work towards you AAT qualification.
This can see you enter the field to assist a qualified accountant with the administrative side of their job, gaining you invaluable experience into what the day of an accountant is like.
Once in the job of an Accounts Clerk, should you choose to further your studies to further study to become a certified accountant, you can speak to your employer about the options they have, prior to leaving to take up further education.
Most employers are supportive of helping their staff train to accountancy level, as they’ve already invested a significant amount in recruiting you, and training you on the job, so it’s natural they’ll encourage advancement within their organisation, rather than see you leave, further train, only to benefit another company. This can dramatically decrease your cost of training, through employer sponsorship.
The alternative route is to go straight for the jugular, which involves gaining qualifications through any of the following bodies:
As you can see there are different awarding bodies based on your region, but the one national body is through ACCA. It’s the most common qualification to work towards and the most recognised qualification throughout the UK.
If you would prefer to have an international recognised qualification, the AIA accountant training will be the route to take.
To work in the UK only though, ACCA is most employer recognised body. You will need 2 A levels as part of the entry requirements, with an additional three GCSE A- C grades, which must include Mathematics and English.
There exceptions for those over the age of 21, through the Mature Student Entry Route, but the first two exams must be completed within 2 years.
For those with degrees in Accountancy or Business, there are some exams in the first stage of your studies that may be exempt you from sitting them. There’s an additional exception for those who hold an ACCA Certified Accounting Technician qualification, where you will have three less exams to sit, out of the nine involved in your first stage of accountant training towards an ACCA qualification.
When you become an accountant, jobs are quite high, due to the diversity of the skills you’ll have through your training. That doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to find work as certified accountant. It just means there’s more room for you to enter the finance field.
Every business needs someone skilled, and with finance related qualifications. As a certified accountant, employers are more confident in the knowledge that you’re exceptionally trained to a high degree, which will improve your likelihood of finding employment. It will be rare to step into an accountant position though, as more often than not you’ll be employed as trainee accountant. This is because of the different nature of accountancy firms, combined with business requirements they’re serving their clients.
The first job you do is likely to be in a trainee position of a finance firm. As a trainee accountant, you’ll be working within a team, learning the ins and outs of how the business operates. You’ll work with an accountant, analysts, and perhaps financial controllers and learn the different tasks that the accountant will have. This will ensure your skills are maximised on, and your qualifications meet the needs of the regulatory body, while ensuring you know everything there is to know about the company you work with, the services you’ll be providing, and receiving ongoing training and support, before you progress in your career as an accountant.
When that career shift happens, and you’re promoted to an accountant job, that’s when your opportunities open up other avenues for you to pursue and start your career progression, into different industries, gaining a wide array of work experience. That is if you choose to further your career, as there are some people happy in the line of work they do, and don’t perhaps enjoy the challenge in taking on new areas of work that they’re perhaps not familiar with.
This type of work will be in larger organisations, where you’ll be responsible for managing the budgets and cash flow throughout the business, carrying out audits when required, maintaining accounts records, and helping with daily budget flow within a company.
Within accountancy firms, there’s a number of accountants employed, all of who will have different responsibilities.
Some will specialise in tax audits, another could be involved in the payroll, with another accountant taking care of a clients investment portfolio. As a chief accountant, it would be your job to combine the data from each accountant in different aspects of their professional line of work, managing the clients’ files, keeping them up to date on the full service being provided to them, the investments in place, returns on capital investment, and managing every aspect of a clients needs.
As a financial analyst, you’d be involved in the stock industry. It’s not the typical role of an accountant, but firms who offer strategic investment services will need suitably qualified personnel to analyse financial data, create reports, and contribute to a team of other consultants involved in financial planning.
With an accountancy qualification, you would be able to able to consult on any financial issues, which would open opportunities for you within private practice or public fund accountancy jobs, assisting banks, financial institutions, and government on managing their finances, by lowering costs, or capitalising on other opportunities.
As long as there are businesses around, there’s going to be accountancy jobs there to serve those businesses. Your skills are in the finance sector, and businesses are experts in their respective fields. That can be plumbing, carpentry, security consultants, and every other type of business around. They need the services of an accountant to either manage their financial accounts for them, or provide advice to them on how to lower their cost of doing business, in order to maximise on profits. It all begins with your training to become an accountant, which will then open the door to a number of specialist jobs you could be doing within the financial services industry.
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