Accounting is an industry that you can get into at any age and whether you’ve not got any GCSEs, or you have a degree, there are opportunities available at any level. Many accountants do hold a degree; however, it is not an essential qualification and some of the biggest accounting firms in the UK offer alternative routes.
There are many different roles within the accounting industry with different specialisations. Accounting can be broken down into financial accountants who provide information to people outside of their organisation and management accountants who plan and control an organisation. Management accounting is not as common so it is more likely you will start your career through financial accounting which includes:
- Forensic accounting
How do I start my career in accounting?
If you aspire to be an accountant, there are a number of routes you can take to get there. Qualifications are essential to your accounting career, so it is important to consider this when you choose your options.
These are some popular accounting qualifications you should try and get throughout your career which include:
AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) accounting courses
ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualifications
ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) chartered accountant status (ACA)
CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) business finance award
Some accounting firms will be more likely to hire you if you have certain qualifications and different accounting paths require different qualifications too. An ACCA qualification is essential for you if you want to be a chartered accountant as well as three years’ experience.
What options can I take for a career in accounting?
If you choose to do an accountancy apprenticeship, you will be combining work experience with great qualifications. This means you’ll be earning a salary while getting qualifications that some people don’t have the opportunity to get until they graduate or until later in their professional careers. Accounting apprenticeships are available at GCSE level all the way to masters level!
You could become a chartered accountant more quickly doing an apprenticeship than going to university
If you choose to do an accounting degree (or combined accounting degree) at university, you’ll be learning the theoretical knowledge that you can apply into your working life! The entry requirements for an accounting degree tend to require you to show strong mathematical skills so you may need an A-level in mathematics or economics.
By choosing to do an accounting degree you will be able to choose specific units or topics to study to help you decide what accounting field you want to specialise in. Some degrees also offer placement years so you can get experience in an accounting firm or department.
If you’ve already got your degree and you have chosen that you want a career in accounting, you could look at graduate opportunities. These would involve you going straight into the workplace while being on a structured training programme to develop the skills you need to truly succeed in the world of accounting.
Alternatively, you could consider doing a level 7 accounting apprenticeship which will give you a qualification equivalent to a master’s degree and experience in the workplace!
There are other routes to get into accounting, however it is likely you will need a specific accounting qualification in order to land your first role. If you currently don’t have one of these, it is recommended to look to speak to local colleges, training providers, AAT, CIMA, ACCA and ACA to see what qualifications they run and how you can take them.