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Bookkeeping / Accountancy qualifications - where to start ?!

(31 Posts)
orangetulip Wed 12-Jan-11 16:58:37

I am thinking of switching careers to some sort of financial occupation (COMpletely fed up where I am).. was thinking of starting with bookkeeping with possibility of taking it further long term to some sort of accountancy training.
There's such a breadth of qualifications out there - ICB/IAB/C&G/AAT/OCR.... Can anyone give any advice as to pro's / con's of each ? Any better than others if you want to keep the option open to take it further ? Thanks.

nikki1978 Thu 13-Jan-11 10:31:16

I am a book keeper but not qualified. I have looked into it and do know a bit about it though.

ICB and IAB are best for becoming a book keeper (especially for being self employed). I had a look and a distance learning company called Ideal Schools is very good and well priced. The difference between the two I am not sure about but people seem to argue as to which is better recognized.

AAT is best for if you want to start in book keeping but progress to accounting. It is very well recognised and is split into 3 parts each costing about £500 each to study.

Not sure about OCR and C&G but there are also CIMA and ACCA which are more accounting qualifications that you get sponsored by an employer to do as a trainee so this only works if you want to work and study at the same time.

Here are some good links:- bForumID=350482&p=2 ualifications/Train_for_the_ACA/Train_for_the_ACA

abouteve Thu 13-Jan-11 10:36:09

AAT is the qualification that will get you into a job in finance rather than a book-keeping qualification. Also getting AAT could lead onto studying for ACCA or CIMA which are professional exams.

I've got AAT and have never heard of the other courses.

Plumm Thu 13-Jan-11 10:41:17

I'm doing AAT home learning (at least I will once this baby pops out and I'm not so tired!). I'm doing this with a view to getting further accounting qualifications later on. (I worked in accountancy for 10 years pre-DC, but never took exams).

dilbertina Thu 13-Jan-11 11:00:16

I've just signed up for this Open University course. If you pass you are eligible for IAB membership. I've got a lot of experience with accounts but no formal qualifications in the field. I am currently not working and living overseas so the OU course was the easiest option for me. I'm not entirely sure if this course would be enough in itself to bring you up to speed if you have no prior knowledge though....I'll report back in a few months time!

I've also done various SAGE courses for accounts and payroll etc so am hopeful that at some point in future I may be able to earn a bit as a self-employed book-keeper type person...!

I would recommend SAGE courses if you're thinking of doing computerised accounts (which I imagine many potential cutomers may want...). They also used to do some basic book-keeping courses as well as another option.

orangetulip Thu 13-Jan-11 14:47:20

Thanks all - this is really useful info. It sounds like AAT might be the way to go if I might want to go past bookkeeping longer term. I have also found that the AAT bookkeeping qualification exempts you from some of the L2 of the main AAT qualification.
I like the idea of home study - because have job, children etc (not sure how much energy left over to actually get on with it !).
Plumm - how do you find the AAT home study ? Is it easy to follow, well structured etc , can you readily get help if you need it ? Which one are you doing ?
I'll look into the other ones mentioned, especially the Open University one, as I haven't come across that one before.

Plumm Thu 13-Jan-11 18:09:44

I've only done a small bit of it (moved house and baby due soon - life took over!) but what I did was easy to follow, though bear in mind that I have an accountancy background and a lot of it is brushing up on rusty knowledge (been a SAHM for nearly 5 years now).

Soups Thu 13-Jan-11 19:52:03

I posted on the Return to Work forum but can I jump in here and ask the same question?

To cut a long story short I used to work in IT but 8 years back so my skills are totally out of date. I'm now wanting to return to work but not sure what I want to do. I'm happy to do part-time admin or go temping. Even tho I have no burning desire to be a book keeper or accountant would doing that OU course be a useful addition to my CV? To show I know what Sage is, have an understanding of numbers in a company.

I've seen some jobs that aren't pure book keeping or accountancy that seem to want some of those skills.

My degree was in Information Management.

mollymole Thu 13-Jan-11 19:52:40

as a qualified accountant myself i would recommend the AAT course, especially as you may want to progress further it is well recognised in the accountancy profession.

Talkinpeace Mon 17-Jan-11 19:10:40

agree with Mollymole
the BIG qualifications are those covered here
AAT is the well respected route in to them
even mature graduates can transfer in to the full qualifications
non relevant degrees are a distinct advantage.
When I started studying, Accountancy degrees were worth LESS than science ones
as your experience was deemed too narrow!

EdgarAleNPie Mon 17-Jan-11 21:07:23

would it be worth a part qualified accountatn doing AAT?

it would actually re-prise much of the degree subject as well as the ICAS training he's had - - the thouht being it might help answer the 'how have you kept up your skills whilst unemployed?' interview question?

is there another qualification that doesn't require a working role to complete?

getting a bit gloomy as unemployed two years now...would a lesser, but more recent qual help?

Talkinpeace Mon 17-Jan-11 21:39:16

have you tried temping?
short term work?
go and sit in the offices of the agencies until they give you a placement

Part Qual is higher than AAT and none of them are cheap!

EdgarAleNPie Mon 17-Jan-11 21:46:15

tis for the husband,

he might be able to get paid to do it by the job centre.

One of his problems is although he has 3 years experience, it is all in corporate tax, and temp positions etc mostly want VAT and personal tax.
I am woried that now people will view him as too rusty to try.

Talkinpeace Mon 17-Jan-11 21:56:39

he has to be willing to do the first couple of temp postings at barely above book keeper
that way the agency get to know what he can do

once he's done a couple of the stinky ones they will give him the nicer stuff

EdgarAleNPie Mon 17-Jan-11 22:01:44

he hasn't said no yet.he has been turned down as being over-qualified confused and not relevantly qualified.

DBcomp Tue 18-Jan-11 13:44:41

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Talkinpeace Tue 18-Jan-11 13:54:12

yup, part qual is tricky. That was why I blasted through my exams before having kids!!
All I can think of is to go in to one of the agencies - I used to work for Accountancy Personnel which is now Hays - and get to know the staff (ie not leave till they fob you off with a job) so that they see that working below skill level is fine short term.

Out of interest, how come he didn't complete his training contract ?

EdgarAleNPie Tue 18-Jan-11 19:05:14

they entered him for ICAS and CTA at the same time (well, they wanted him to do CTA before qualification).

He passed all his ICAS first time, but CTA he failed one by 4 marks on a re-sit. He had to pass it as terms of his contract.

>emoticon of extreme frustration<

The intake of graduates after him got to do their CTA after qualification - as they ended up firing most of that years graduates!
when he was first unemployed, he only needed 60 days experience and 1 exam to qualify, by the end of feb he'll be back to totally unqualified status as he'll lose the ICAS credits.

He was doing the kind of work that Big 4 do, but big 4 aren't keen on people who have failed exams....

basically it has been a nightmare and i'm going back into proper professional work to prop us up in the medium-long term - though if there's a slow-road for him to get back in, i want him to take it.

I think he could have been making himself better known to local agencies, will talk to him about this.

Talkinpeace Tue 18-Jan-11 19:11:35

I Know Pigs Might Groan
about people failing exams first time (perchance)
its a real bummer
local agencies and MUCH smaller firms might be willing to use the skills he picked up there and use him at student rates till he gets the letters
go through the directory of training firms
and yes, in the mean time, be a PITA for the agencies.

EdgarAleNPie Tue 18-Jan-11 19:17:51

It is indeed the groaning pig of which you speak , though i think it was second re-sit. We'd have paid for him to re-take ourselves (quite happily, he loved the job)

but no goer...

spikejack Thu 19-Jan-12 23:56:19


Sorry to jump in on this conversation, but the subject is exactly what I was going to enquire about!

I have been doing manual Bookkeeping and Secretarial work (under the watchful eye of a Treasurer) for a local charity for the past 5 years whilst being a SAHM. Previous to that I worked in Finance and Admin full time. I did a HNC in Business Administration before having my children and one of the modules was in Management Accounting, which I did fairly well in. I have just completed a C&G in Computerised Accounting (Sage). I'm thinking that I should stop being a Childminder (don't really enjoy it and it doesn't pay the bills) and become a self employed Book-Keeper. Its not exactly my first career choice (although I have no idea what would be!) but I think it will fit around my children (school holidays, school activities etc) quite well - if I can manage my time well enough.

I have the space and facilities at home to do it, while my children are at school. (The youngest one starts in September this year and the oldest one is in Year 1). I'm about to put an ad together for our local village magazine, hoping that it might be noticed by 2 or 3 small businesses, who will allow me to work from home / on site for maybe a day a week each, or something similar.

The problem is...I'm terrified!! I don't know where to start, or wther I know enough to be let loose on finance on my own (!!) and having only worked under the scrutiny of the Treasurer for my current Secretarial post, I don't think I'm confident enough to know how good (or bad) I am at it. I have so many questions: Insurances, fees, etc etc confused

I'd really appreciate any feedback from anyone, if you have made this move already. Further training could be an option, but I'd rather not. After the Admin NVQ's, the HNC, Childminding course 2 years ago and then more recently the computerised Accounts course, I'm kind of fed up and just want to earn some money now :-)

Please help or advise me!!! smile

spikejack Fri 20-Jan-12 00:20:25

I've also just looked into an ICB qualifications, which is £620 and can studied via distance learning. I just wondered whether this would be considered necessary or useful? I don't have any plans to further a Book-Keeping career into Accountancy, but want a career that will last and that is always in demand (don't we all??!!). I will do the ICB course if its considered worthwhile - just wondered if it is one of those things that they try to make you feel that you 'need' to do, just so 'they' can earn £620!! hmm

Or maybe I'm just trying to get out of studying AGAIN.....grin

TheVanessa Tue 23-Sep-14 10:29:32

I know this thread's a couple of years old but I'd like to say that I took the ICB course route with Ideal Schools and I found it incredibly rewarding. I now run a small bookkeeping business and as my hours are completely flexible it fits perfectly with my family life. I would fully endorse this option if anyone was looking for new career options. it's changed slightly since I completed my course but here is the direct course link with Ideal Schools:

Good luck!!

penni00 Sun 19-Jul-15 00:14:18

Hi TheVanessa, this is my first ever post. I saw your posting from Sep last year . I am thinking of doing the ICB with Ideal Schools or Training Link . What level did you go to , did you get the AICB or the MICB. Can these qualifications enable you to run a bookkeeping business with no previous actual work experience

penni00 Sun 19-Jul-15 00:14:18

Hi TheVanessa, this is my first ever post. I saw your posting from Sep last year . I am thinking of doing the ICB with Ideal Schools or Training Link . What level did you go to , did you get the AICB or the MICB. Can these qualifications enable you to run a bookkeeping business with no previous actual work experience

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