Wondering which accounting qualification body will help you achieve your professional goals? Today we discuss AAT and ACCA side by side to see which best suits your needs.


The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), like AAT, offers several accounting qualifications. Today we’ll be focusing on their main ACCA qualification.

There are various different combinations of grades and qualifications needed for entry to the ACCA qualification. One example sufficient for entry to the qualification is – two passes at GCE along with three GCSEs (A-C grades, including maths and English). For the full list, check ACCA’s minimum entry requirements.

The ACCA qualification can take from between three and seven years to complete. The course is split into two parts – foundation and professional – and is supplemented with three years of work experience that can be completed whilst studying. For some, the ACCA qualification is quite a lengthy commitment, although it is usually completed whilst in work, making it a great choice for those looking to continue earning whilst simultaneously raising their salary potential.   

ACCA has been around for 110 years and is trusted by employers to produce well-rounded, highly skilled accounting professionals. The ACCA qualification can be studied via classroom-based teaching, distance learning, online, or a combination of all three. ACCA’s approved learning partners are regularly assessed to make sure they are maintaining ACCA’s standards of education.

Often, ACCA students combine their level of study with appropriately levelled work: during the first year, ACCA students may work in accountants payable as an assistant, then move up to a more senior level as they complete the foundation modules of the qualification. Upon completion, students automatically become ACCA members and can apply for a wide range of senior-level roles such as – Financial Analyst (average salary £40,600) and Financial Accountant (average salary also £40,600).


The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is an awarding body that provides various accounting qualifications. We’ll be focusing on the following qualifications: Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2), Advanced Diploma in Accounting (Level 3), and Professional Diploma in Accounting (Level 4).

There are no formal entry requirements for AAT Level 2, making this an ideal option for those just starting out in accountancy. The most common progression path is for students to complete each level and move onto the next, although students can start at a higher level by completing the AAT Skillcheck test and gaining an AAT Level 3 or 4 recommendation.

Each AAT level takes between 6-18 months to complete and builds on the knowledge gained from the previous course. Much of the classroom work is based on practical application of skills and for this reason, AAT courses are considered a more vocational qualification than ACCA. Although, it’s worth noting that students are not required to complete work experience as part of an AAT course programme.

AAT has been developing accountancy courses since 1980. Like ACCA, AAT is well respected in the accounting industry. AAT courses can be delivered through both classroom-based and distance learning. Training providers are regularly assessed to make sure they are maintaining AAT’s required standards.

There are several career choices available at each AAT Level. Level 2 would often qualify a student for an entry-level, administration role, such as a Payroll Administrator (average salary £19,285). Level 3 could see a student enter a more senior role, such as a Tax Assistant (average salary £24,000). Level 4 would usually result in increased responsibility through roles such as a Cost Accountant (average salary £30,000).

Upon finishing AAT Level 4, students automatically gain AAT affiliate member status. After completing and providing evidence of five personal effectiveness competencies and one technical competency in an accounting role, affiliate members can then apply for full AAT Membership (MAAT). After five years at MAAT status, Fellow Membership (FMAAT) becomes an option. Each level of membership shows a continued commitment to developing accounting expertise and is rewarded with an average higher salary and more senior positions. Those wishing to gain chartered accountant status can use their AAT membership for examination and module exemptions. Read more about AAT to ACCA.

So which accounting qualification fits your needs? Looking for a career change with well-documented levels of career progression? Or perhaps you’re looking for a long-term work/study balance? Contact Aspiring Accountants today for free impartial accounting qualification advice.


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