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How to Start a Career in Accountancy

Published: Monday 10th September 2018

Female accountant with a calculator in hand

Traditionally, accountancy has always been seen as a good career choice because of high salaries and excellent job prospects. But, interestingly, you don’t need a maths or finance-related degree to get into accountancy (although it doesn’t hurt). Calculators and computers do most of the complicated number work these days. However, you will need good numeric skills. Just as important are an excellent negotiation, problem-solving and communication skills.

Routes into accountancy

Like most roles, if you’re not a graduate, you’ll have to start from the bottom and work your way up. That might mean completing an internship or starting out in a junior position. But there are a variety of training schemes and apprenticeships should you want to become an accountant by training on the job. Admin jobs are one way, for example, in which many people find their way into accountancy jobs or banking jobs. Many admin jobs involve inputting or manipulating financial information. These can also lead to roles in bookkeeping and payroll.

But the best route into accountancy is through an industry-recognised course. In the UK, an AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification is considered essential by most employers. School leavers often take this route. Two other alternatives are a CIMA Certificate or ACCA Knowledge Qualifications. These will all allow you to study accountancy without any previous qualifications.

Employment opportunities for graduates

A related degree will exempt you from some of the exams required by the various professional bodies. If you have just graduated, a professional ACA (or ICAEW – Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales), CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants), or ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualification will set you on the road to becoming a chartered accountant.

Before you get that far, however, you will need to have thought about what specialism you want to go into. Accountancy is typically split into financial accounting and management accounting: at its simplest, financial accounting focuses on providing information to external parties, while management accounting provides information to those within the company. Most graduates will come via the financial accounting side which includes specialisms such as audit, corporate finance, insolvency, forensic accounting and tax. Graduates should also give consideration to whether they wish to work in the public or private sector. There’s also the choice between working in industry or practice.

What you can expect to earn

A junior will typically start on a salary of between £16,000 and £24,000 (London-based), but can expect that to rise to between £25,000 and £28,000 once partly qualified. In the final stage of qualification, you could be earning between £32,000 and £42,000, and, as a fully qualified accountant with over three years’ experience, anywhere between £45,000 and £60,000, plus benefits. After that, the sky is very much the limit, depending on the role and any specialisms.

Whether you’re looking for accountancy jobs in London, jobs in Birmingham or another major centre. Or you’re looking for something local, at Zoek UK, you’ll discover a wide range of admin jobs that can kick start a career in accounting.

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