To ask for you to help me become an accountant?(32 Posts)
Hi all, I'd like to become an accountant. I would really appreciate some help & advice.
I love numbers and always have so I've decided to retrain. Here are some questions I have. I'd be so grateful if you could help with any of these.
Which course would be best for me to complete?
Is it possibly to qualify without actually working in accountancy, or do you need the work experience to qualify?
What is likely to be the salary of a qualified accountant?
Thanks so much for your help.
A bit more information required!
What is your current level of education? What sort of work have you done previously?
You can study for professional accountancy exams without working in the field, but to be considered to be qualified you need work experience (3 years of appropriate work).
Salary depends on a lot of factors, not least of which is geographic location. Previous qualifications and grades can make a differences particularly in early career job applications.
There are plenty of salary surveys on line which would give a decent idea of pay in different locations and sectors.
I'd start with aat if you literally have no experience. I think you can do that one independently, but it would be easier if you had workplace experience and support.
To complete one of the higher level qualifications (cima, CIPFA, acaew, acca) you would need to be working in accountancy as you need to complete several hours of relevant work experience to qualify.
I have no experience. Other than Higher maths (Scottish equivalent to A level). I'm a SAHM so was hoping to study during these years whilst I'm not working as I know I want to retrain into accountancy.
I would look at an apprenticeship. I career changed to accountancy - applied to a top ten firm as a trainee and started ACA straight away. This is a higher level than AAT and meant it took me three years to qualify. Salaries in my firm depend on service line and office location. I found my job on the ICAEW careers website but all the big firms take students and allow you to apply online.
I had no relevant experience whatsoever when I started. The difference between starting at AAT (leads to ACA but takes longer to qualify) is we start school leavers at AAT and graduates at ACA. It doesn't matter about subject and there's no benefit at all in previous study of accountancy.
Employers look for work experience so I wouldn't bother paying to do the exams - get a training contract and your employer will put you on the right courses, give you time off to study, pay for all your training and materials as well as your salary.
When you're qualified or part qualified the big firms are pretty good about flexible working. However it's a very steep learning curve to start with (often you have to pass the early exams to show you're serious or you could lose your job) so you'd need good support at home in the early stages. Plenty of people do it working 3/4 days a week but study (apart from going to college) is done in your free time.
So there's no point in me doing any studying towards anything whilst I'm at home with the kids? I just want to make sure I'm being proactive.
It depends on which branch of accountancy you want to go into. I work in industry in management accounting. If someone came for one of our entry level roles having already done some of the exams I would take it as a very good sign thay they were committed.
Starting with any role in a finance department eg bought or sales ledger will get you a toe hold. In a larger company this will give you a chance to look over the fence into other parts of finance. Show interest in where your part fits in with everything else. Our most recent junior recruits have all come from the transactional finance sections.
Accountancy is a very broad church. Start studying now. Try and work out what interests you most. For me I knew that audit would bore me rigid. What interests me is turning financial data into information so I work in reporting & planning.
I would suggest taking a look at some of the Big 4 Audit/Accountancy forms (PWC, KPMG, Deloitte, EY) - lots have apprenticeship schemes which may suit you, when you’re ready to return to work. There will be long hours though! They would put you through exams paying tuition etc. Alongside a salary. Whilst unqualified I think the salary is around £22k, rising each year. Once qualified it would be around £45k outside London.
ACCA qualified here. I started out with no experience and not working in an accountancy role. It was tough to start with to get that first role but absolutely not impossible.
You can study prior to gaining the practical experience, it will just take longer to be fully qualified.
In my opinion studying will demonstrate commitment to a potential employer.
Have a look on ACCA website it provides lots of information on available routes to qualifications.
As someone else has said AAT isn't the same level as ACCA, CIMA, ACA or CIPHA. Lots of people do AAT first as it covers the basics and is a good grounding, but this increases the length of time to being a fully qualified accountant.
Hope that's of some use!
Many people, as I did, study for exams in their own time while working in industry rather than on a training contract with an accountancy firm. (Primarily ACCA or CIMA) the only difference is that you are not qualified to audit.
I have known one person who completed their exams while in an unrelated job and then looked for work as an accountant. They found it a challenge to find work and in her first job found it difficult to work at the level expected due to her lack of experience. I employed her at a lower level to give her a chance and she left as she again felt too much pressure but that may have been her lack of confidence.
In my experience, in industry, you find that there is not the same focus in having passed exams as there is in the audit firms. In our department we have had senior accountants earning good salaries with no accounting qualifications but with loads of experience as well as qualified accountants, sometimes in pretty junior roles, it just depends on their performance and attitude. Although It definitely will be much easier getting into a senior position with the exams rather than without.
If you have no experience in accounting try AAT to see how you manage or even a book keeping course (or higher accounts) which would be quicker but still give you a basic overview then move onto CIMA or ACCA. Please concentrate on fully understanding book keeping, when you really understand that it makes the more advanced areas much easier. I give everyone I recruit a basic test and you would be amazed how many accounting graduates don’t understand the basics.
I do know someone who sat AAT before commencing CIMA and fellt it wasn’t necessary but they had experience working in an Accounts dept although not as an accountant.
Any experience in an accounting department will help if you find you have time to even work part time later on. Most jobs are placed with agencies, if you find someone in an agency who you can demonstrate your determination to then they will fight your corner and encourage employers to give you a chance.
I think it’s a great idea to use the time you have now to start your studies as long as are aware of the difficulties your lack of practical experience will bring but it is not insurmountable. It would be a pity to do nothing with the hope of getting a training contract with a big firm in the future when you would be completing with young graduates with relevant degrees and probably work experience.
PM me if you need any more information, (I am in Scotland too so can help with my experience of salaries, agencies etc)
CIMA qualified FD here, with no qualifications at all I'd do your AAT whilst you're on maternity then get a job in accountancy and study for your professional exams.
We pay 25-30k unqualified, but include study leave and training for CIMA or ACCA, that rises steeply on qualification.
Good luck, I love my job.
If you have time on your side and are not looking for an immediate start into work, I would begin working through AAT.
It gives a good grounding in accounting principles and some firms are wary of taking on people who have self-studied ACA/ACCA without gaining accountancy experience alongside. I know we've found in the past that some people struggle to apply accounting theory in actual situations, despite having stellar exam results.
It's also a much bigger investment if you do decide it isn't for you.
Entry level positions, usually with a training contract are quite competitive. Self-studying AAT would help, certainly at our firm, and we have taken on several people in your situation over the years who have started working towards AAT.
The alternative would be to wait until you're ready to start work and apply then, which will be a crap shoot at best, and if you are not a recent graduate, outside of the larger firms many will want to start you on AAT anyway.
I had a similar situation, would have liked to go to accountancy but not quite at the right life stage for it due to DD and commitments. I did a degree with the OU of business studies with accountancy while working in retail, then used that to register as a bookkeeper. I then started some self employed bookkeeping work on the side of my job. After a little while, I got taken on a small company doing all of the bookkeeping/ accounts, and now I manage all of the money in that company ( a few million turnover). I still haven't made it to actual accountancy, but I work closely with our company accountants, do all the prep for our year end and work with them to get the accounts to what we want to show. I'm still not at a stage where I am ready to move into accountancy, but I know that if I want to, I have the skills and experience to move through a training contract rapidly. And enough experience to say that I would like to go into tax, which noone ever wants to do- without my experience I would have said audit, so I've saved myself some pain!
If I did it again/ in your situation, I would start with AAT- you can order the books on Amazon. Work through the earlier levels yourself and see how you get on. You can book yourself in for exams locally. Then start looking for a bit of bookkeeping work on the side. This will put you in good stead for applying to accountants.
However, I will just point out that accountancy/bookkeeping has little to do with numbers, lots to do with logic, in my experience.
Have you considered the civil service?
If you got an admin job there, you could then apply for the Civil Service Fast Stream - www.faststream.gov.uk/finance/
Existing Civil Servants don't need a degree, they'll fund all your training and you have a choice of ACA, ACCA, CIMA and CIPFA. They are considered to be more family friendly than the Big 4, and although most people on the scheme move around they take into account caring responsibilities for children so would try to place you locally.
Civil service fast stream looks amazing but unfortunately I don't have a degree.
So, I don't need to sit AAT through a company (if that makes sense). I can just buy the books, work through it myself and sit the exam? That sounds like a cheaper alternative.
The best accountants do have a good book-keeping understanding. They understand how the numbers got there. They can follow the transaction through its steps.
I am currently working with someone who doesnt have that grounding. It shows!
ImPeppaPig you can study independantly, you dont need a training contract.
You can definitely do it independently and very cheaply, or alternatively go with someone like Kaplan part time.
Gnome, I can see how that could be a problem- I find it ridiculous how little you have to learn about bookkeeping/ double entry for accounting, it's like a doctor not knowing how to take bloods or blood pressure!
There are also smaller accountancy companies out there who may offer more flexibility than the big firms (or equally may not!).
As previous posters have said, qualifying can be very expensive. It's possible to self-study, but courses really increase the chances of passing and resitting the exams also can add up. A safe bet is to get your foot in the door at a company that will fund your study.
The big thing with the study is that it takes application. Lots of people start but never finish. There's always an excuse not to study. From the start don't make excuses for not opening your books.
If you don’t have a degree I would rule out the big 4 apprenticeship schemes - they’re going to young maths/ economics graduates straight out of the top uni’s in the country and are ridiculously competitive. You’d very much struggle to do it with kids if you did get a place unless you have a full time nanny. Could you top up your maths skills while your at home? If you don’t have A level maths could you study for that? That would certainly show how interested you are and could help you get an apprenticeship.
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