For those of you aspiring accountants out there, I expect you’re already aware of the obvious facts… such as, it is an accountant’s role to manage money, and that you’ll need to be good with numbers to do this job.

But what does an accountant do?

The role of an accountant will almost always include the following; financial reporting, purchasing, budgeting, tax and procurement.

There are 2 main types of accountancy, and for those looking to begin a career as an accountant, you’ll find you can specialise in either management accounting or financial accounting.

  • Management accounting comprises of forecasting and cost reporting based on a budget
  • Financial accounting comprises of creating financial statements for shareholders based on historical information
  • Tax accounting comprises of advising businesses and self-employed individuals on how to complete their tax forms

When it comes to understanding what qualifications, you need to become an accountant. This is a slightly more complex matter.

What qualifications do I need to become an accountant?

Many people assume a degree is essential in order to become a fully-fledged accountant, but this isn’t always the case. It really depends on the field of accountancy you wish to enter into. Specific qualifications such as BTECs and A Levels are also not specifically required, however a maths or economics qualification will be held in high regard.

Due to the popularity of the accountancy profession, and the increasing demand for qualified accountants, there are a wide range of accountancy qualifications available to choose from. An AAT qualification is a great place to start and is divided into levels, depending how far you wish to take your studies. In addition, there are higher qualifications like the ACA, ACCA and CIMA, these are best suited to those who wish to become a chartered accountant.

What qualification is right for me?

This all depends on the role you wish to undertake within the field of accountancy. The higher and more important the role, the more study you’ll need to complete in order to achieve your required goal.

For chartered accountancy, you will need to study for at least 3 to 5 years, however this will depend on which qualification you choose to take, your level of competency, whether you opt to study full-time or part-time (part-time studying will take longer), and your overall enthusiasm towards your studies.

With any of the accountancy qualifications, you’ll find that there are not one or two, but many exams needed to pass. In order to complete the method of study, each of the exams require a pass and despite there being the option to re-take an exam, should you fail, this could mean your course taking longer to complete.

AAT is a fantastic qualification and allows you flexibility while you study. It can be studied over a longer period of time, part-time if preferred, and is very much suited to those with existing commitments that aren’t able to give up their current job to study full-time, or for those who have a family or other personal commitments.

To qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, an ACA qualification is a great place to start. This is a highly-respected qualification that includes on-the-job training as well as passing a series of exams.

Or you can become an ACCA certified accountant upon successful completion of the fourteen ACCA examinations and three years of practical experience. This qualification doesn’t just focus on accountancy, but tax, auditing, management, law, professional values and much more.


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