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Accountancy is a professional career, meaning you study and take exams in order to become qualified. It’s a reliable profession - every organisation needs an accountant! - and as a result it’s paid well, with clear routes for progression and exciting opportunities to grow.
There are lots of different routes into accountancy: you might choose to follow an accounting apprenticeship, enrol on a school leaver programme with a big firm, or turn to the profession after university. No matter what pathway you take, they all end with the same level of qualification: becoming a Chartered Accountant. So it’s really up to you what entry route you want to follow, depending on which experiences best suit your style of learning and development.
There are two main types of accountants: financial accounts and management accountants:
When people think about accountancy as a career, they often assume that you have to work in a big accounting firm that services multiple clients. But it’s also very possible to work as a management accountant within an organisation, meaning a career in accounting could take you to all sorts of interesting opportunities and organisations. Chartered Accountants can progress to leadership roles within organisations, such as Head of Finance or Chief Financial Officer, meaning there is potential to get involved in high level business decisions at the peak of a career in accounting.
It’s widely believed that you have to be a maths whizz in order to become an accountant, but whilst you need to be comfortable handling numbers to do the job, qualities such as attention to detail, organisation, good time management, communication skills and trustworthiness are actually the most important characteristics of a great accountant.
This quick quiz and skill check will help you identify which qualification you are best suited to. At Whitehat we only offer a Level Three Qualification, so if you are not yet ready for that, consider a course at college to complete your AAT Level 2 qualification. Come back after that is completed and we would love to help! If you are ready for your level 3 then follow the instructions below to strengthen your CV and secure a role in no time!
Get a part time job in retail or hospitality and get some experience on the tills, cashing up at the end of the day or doing cash reconciliations. Any work experience will prove to an employer that you are trustworthy and reliable! Being given extra responsibilities, such as cashing up or dealing with any finances will make your CV stand out, as interviewers will recognise that you were so amazing at your day-to-day tasks that your employer felt able to trust you with more. Check out our post on how to get work experience when you don't have any work experience if you're not sure how to go about this.
Gain some work experience in an Accountancy firm, or in the finance team of another business. Make an effort, email and just pop into a business to see if you are able to do a couple of weeks of work shadowing in their finance team. This will prove how proactive you are, and it will also be a great opportunity to shadow and understand what it’s really like to work within a finance team! Check out Humza's story of how he secured professional work experience if you'd like some tips.
Take this free course to learn the basics of accounting and bookkeeping - Open University: Introduction to Bookkeeping and Accountancy.
Research and make sure you can confidently explain: the implementation of FRS 102; the difference between a finance accountant and a management accountant; the difference between industry and practice; what you would be doing in your first year of the AAT, and reflect on what you think you would most/least enjoy and why.
Here's another great free course: Diploma in Accountancy: Core Practices and Theory. Make sure to add it to your CV when you're done!