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What do you need to become an accountant?

Published on: 20 Oct 2015

What do you need to become an accountant?


Accountant jobs offer great pay and lots of room for progression. Job roles vary massively, from a management accountant to entertainment accounting.

But how do you get your foot in the door? Here are three key things you need to focus on.

  • Experience

    One of the first things employers look for when recruiting is relevant experience. This shows that you don’t just have the technical know-how, but can apply it to real-life situations.

    To start building your experience, it can be a good idea to seek unpaid work experience. This allows you to learn from experienced professionals, while building working relationships that could prove useful in the future.

    If you already have some basic knowledge and experience, you may be able to find relevant paid employment to add to your CV in the form of an entry level or part qualified role.

  • Qualifications

    The right qualifications show potential employers that you have up-to-date knowledge of essential accounting principles, as well as an awareness of how the sector works. Here are some of the most popular qualifications.

    AAT: The Association of Accounting Technicians take you from the very basics at level 2, to a more advanced understanding at level 4. Globally recognised, this is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to enter the sector.

    ACCA: The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants is a more advanced qualification that helps you develop the knowledge you need to progress into senior roles. Many people move to ACCA from AAT, which gives you exemptions from some units.

    CIMA: The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants is specifically for those looking to go into management accounting. It develops your ability to drive commercial success from within organisations.

  • Skills

    Building your knowledge through the right experience and qualifications is important, but there are certain natural skills and qualities you’ll need to succeed.

    One essential skill is numeracy. While you don’t need to be a mathematician, a good understanding of basic maths is important, as you’ll often need to carry out basic mental arithmetic.

    You’ll also need to have an analytical mind for scrutinising figures and documents for accuracy, and picking up on inconsistencies. Many senior roles even involve analysing clients’ current financial situations in order to make sound recommendations.

    Another skill required for success in accounting is communication. While accountants spend a lot of time at their computers, a large part of the role is communicating with colleagues and clients to share information and ensure everything is consistent.