The beauty of accountancy is that there are many routes in which to enter the profession. Unlike studying to become a doctor, there is not one set path to follow to become an accountant.

The path in which you take is likely to depend on your which level of career within accountancy you wish to pursue. If you’re eager to seek a managerial role, the length of study is likely to be far greater than a general accountancy role.


For the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), it may be that you can bypass Level 2 (the lowest level, which requires no previous qualifications), enabling you to speed up the process. If however, you have little qualification if any, don’t be disheartened as each unit is designed to take between 6 months and a year. To complete Levels 2 – 4, you would need to allow up to 3 years.


For the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), you need at least 5 GCSEs and two A Levels to qualify for the foundation course. ACCA is made up of 2 qualification, which are split into 14 compulsory units.

The Fundamental Level course covers 9 of the units. Once the units are complete, you would have a Diploma in Accounting and Business.

The Professional course covers the remaining 5 units. Once the last 5 units are complete, you’ll have gained an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Business.

Once you have begun your ACCA studies, you have 10 years to complete the full qualification. For those of you who are already AAT qualified, you’ll be except from the first 3 units within the fundamental level of ACCA.


There are 3 levels of qualification for The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), these are:

  • CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting (5 units)
  • CIMA Diploma in Management Accounting (3 units)
  • CIMA Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting (6 units)

Many CIMA candidates choose to sit more than one paper at a time, and with 14 papers in total, the CIMA qualification usually takes around 4 years to complete in full.

Similarly to ACCA, being AAT qualified makes you except from the first part of the qualification, so the CIMA qualification could take 2-3 years to complete, instead of 4.

So, having considered the different study options to enter accountancy, we hope you now have a better understanding of the length of time it takes to study to become an accountant. Just to clarify, no matter on the route you choose to take, you will need to dedicate 3 years of work experience into the field before being to progress into a managerial role.

The other option of study is a degree, which will take 3 years to study full time, if you wish to opt for a Master Degree, this will take 4 years.

To put it simply, studying to become an accountant is hard work and will take years of dedication and perseverance, but if it’s something you’re passionate to do, it’s well worth the few years spent studying hard. At the end of it all you’ll have a fantastic profession that offers security, a competitive salary and plenty of scope for growth.


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