If you believe that accountancy is a good fit for your profile, then it’s time to look into the various routes into the profession. As stated previously, there are quite a few avenues for you to explore, with several different professional qualifications to choose from.
For those who are completely new to the accounting profession, qualifications from Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) are an obvious first step. You will have three options to choose from with the AAT:
• Foundation Certificate (Level 2)
• Advanced Diploma (Level 3)
• Professional Diploma (Level 4)
These globally recognised qualifications can be studied online or in person and are widely considered the minimum standard for accountants. These courses combine industry knowledge with the practical work skills that you’ll need to forge a successful career as an accountant. By getting your AAT qualifications first, you can actually reduce the amount of work you need to carry out to achieve other, higher-level qualifications.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is one of the top Chartered Accountancy bodies in the world, boasting more than 200,000 members. Comprised of two levels – Fundamentals and Professionals – the qualifications work through a broad range of topics.
You need three GCSEs and two A-levels – including maths and English – along with three years of work experience to gain access to this course.
This qualification is offered by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and is also commonly known as an ACA qualification.
To achieve this qualification, you will need to complete 450 days of practical work experience and pass 15 exam modules. The ICAEW is a well-respected organisation, with more than 150,000 members, so this is a valuable qualification to attain.
Offering the CIMA professional qualification, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants has a global reputation.
The course is split into three “pillars” and consists of 12 exams. After working through the three pillars, you will achieve Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) status – a renowned qualification in the field.
The Association of International Accountants (AIA) is another well-respected organisation with a global reputation.
If you follow the necessary steps to achieve their highest qualification, you can attain qualified accountant status. Again, you will need a minimum of 2 A Level and 3 GCSE passes (including maths and English) to gain entry to this programme.
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) is the professional body for people working in public finance.
If you have aspirations to help manage funds for governments or other public sector bodies, this is the qualification for you. You will need to complete 12 modules to achieve the Professional Accountancy Qualification they offer.
All of these qualifications have clear value for a career in accountancy, especially since many accountancy firms and employers will accept qualifications from any of these bodies. Still, if you have an accountancy specialism in mind, it is worth choosing a qualification that best fits that field.