Government Jobs in Accountancy Explained

If you’re good with juggling numbers, problem solving and possess a high degree of numerical skills, then government jobs in accountancy, may be the career path for you. There’s a wide variety of opportunities, and since the jobs are in the public sector, you have a chance to make a real difference too.

Everyday there’s debates taking place up and down the country about how the government spend their money. Where it can be better spent and areas that people feel there’s money being wasted, that could be better spent elsewhere. With a financial role in the public sector, you get to ensure the budgets allocated, are spent in the appropriate areas.

Government Jobs in Accountancy Explained

You’ll be maintaining financial records, monitoring overheads, and providing assistance to a team of financial experts, who all work together to ensure that budgets are spent in the appropriate areas, that may need investment to improve services. Some of the services managed by the government have budgets allocated in the millions, and at times in the billions of pounds.

In order to ensure that money is managed and spent in areas, where it’s most needed, accountant roles are allocated. Note though, that you’ll very rarely find a job solely for an accountant, as most are within finance departments, but for the most part, you can find senior executive finance manager roles, accounts assistants etc, and you can work your way up to become a director of finance in the public sector accounting field.

Some areas you could be involved with in public sector accountancy:

  • Local or Central government services (Housing would be localised, whereas HMRC is centralised)
  • The NHS
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • Schools
  • Private sector firms dealing in public services, such as transport

Each public sector has a vast amount of money being invested into each of them. The NHS, due to its size, needs to be managed carefully and it can’t be done with one person. Every hospital around the country has its own finance department.

Those are where the hospital expenses are managed. Then you have the community clinics and GP practices needing financial experts to assist them with managing their accounts. With the amount of public spending being tight, the need for competent experts in finance has never been more paramount to the success of the public sector services, and continued improvement to all of them.

How to get started in Public Sector Accounting

If you want to get government jobs in accountancy, you’ll have to be qualified to show your professional abilities. You do that by qualifying with a professional accountancy body in the UK. There are 6 main accountancy institutes you can be qualified through. Those are:

  1. ICAEW – Institute of Chartered Accountant in England and Wales
  2. ACCA – The Association of Chartered Accountants
  3. CIMA – Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
  4. AIA – The Association of International Accountants
  5. IFA – Institute of Financial Accountants
  6. CIPFA – Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy

The last one listed is the typical route for people to take, if they specifically want to be involved in public sector finance. The reason being, that it’s specific to the public sector.

For any government finance jobs, all applicants need to be able to understand public policy. Qualifying through CIPFA as an accountant proves your ability to understand public policy and implement strategic budget management, recording of financial records, while ensuring you’re able to understand how to best implement budget control for maximum effectiveness. Since government accountant jobs are based within finance departments, consisting of numerous job roles, there’s always the opportunity for career progression.

You can begin in a trainee position, work your way into a finance related post, continuing your career progression in managerial positions, and could eventually land the job role of a director of finance.

There’s definitely scope for career advancement in the public sector finance field.