Best way in to practice

Best way in to practice

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I'm trying to find the best way in to the industry - as a member in practice.

Close to completing level 3 AAT.
But no practical experience.
I'm 27 which I believe changes funding prospects.

I was thinking about seeking an apprenticeship for a year starting at level 4. An incentive for a practice to take me on due to the low low wage?
Although I could only sustain apprenticeship wage for a year due to having a family.

But with not many apprenticeships being advertised in my local precinct I wonder how difficult and how much paperwork this would create for a potential employer??
As commuting beyond my 5-7 mile radius isn't financially viable on such a low wage.

Unless there's possible options I've not considered?

I ask here because you guys are all professionals and I feel could offer of quality advice..

Any comments will be received with thanks

Replies (11)

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By Moonbeam
07th May 2014 13:32

Other expertise may be the way in

You don't say what work experience you've had, but that might be the way you transfer over to what would be a new occupation. I suspect apprentice type roles are for younger people. Practical experience ranks much more with an employer than exams.

If you are looking for an employer to train you up, as indeed you would be, that is the nub of the problem. Time is money. What experience can you offer now that could be used by an employer and possibly be combined with a bookkeeping type role? You might have to put this plan on hold while earning money in an area you can get work in more easily.

Try volunteering for charity work as an accounts person. That might be a start.

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By arcon5
07th May 2014 15:28

Sorry but I don't see how putting it on hold will help - just means I'd be asking this question in 6 months instead of now.

Is it common for charities or alike to actively take on volunteers in accounts departments on a limited time basis?

In this type of occupation I've no experience. I've previously run a business and managed my own financial affairs but not sure that would count for anything in terms of an accounting practice

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By mrme89
07th May 2014 16:01

From experience, I would give up now on the idea of trying to finding employment within an accountancy practice.


I have always worked in industry and have tried to gain employment within a practice on many occasions by: -

Sending 00’s of covering letters and CV’s to potential employers.Offering my services for freeTrying to go through various agencies


Employers in practice only want employees that have practice experience or at a young age for a trainee type role. There also seems to be an element of snobbery involved.


If I was in your position, I would be looking for sales / purchase ledger roles within a company to get a foot in.


Good look in your search, but don’t rule out other areas of the profession.

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By arcon5
07th May 2014 15:55

I was playing with the idea of going in to business and through cima originally. Perhaps this would be the easier option in your opinions?

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07th May 2014 16:05

If you've previously run a business the skills acquired in this along with your understanding from AAT should give you something to work with. You might just have to talk that up and see if that gets you anywhere, i think (but not certain) that at 27 you are too old to be taken on as an apprentice.

As mrme89 says industry would be easier to get in to and you may even prefer that to practice.

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By Gurinder Kular
07th May 2014 16:08

If you are really determined

to get into practice then you will have to make some compromises, ie travel outside your 5-7 mile radius.  There are many small practices around and I'm sure there could be a small 2 or 3 employee practice looking for a cheap trainee/junior.  

But I doubt you would be happy with the wage if you did manage to find one and considering you have a family to support......

As mrme89 has already stated there is a lot of snobbery, your age unfortunatley also counts against you especially in the UK.

Have you worked in a practice before?  I don't know many accountants that enjoy it.  


As you have owned your own business I think you would be better off working in industry and studying CIMA.  Once you have enough experience under your belt and a qualification like CIMA you can always open your own business offering accounting services.  There is a lot of work you can do without having a practice background

All that said don't give up and keep on looking but be realistic and explore some of the other suggestions.  




Thanks (1)
By arcon5
07th May 2014 16:25

Some real quality replies guys, thanks so far.
To clarify a couple of points

- the point of the travel to work was based on apprenticeship wage. I've looked at our household income to assess the ability to take up an apprenticeship financially and wouldn't be able to afford to commute daily without potentially causing hardship, hence to local area. For a low paid job but better than apprentice wage I would happily commute further afield.

- an apprenticeship is available to people my age, but funding isn't. There is access to funding available in the form of a learners loan mind.
I know my local colleague offer level 4 apprenticeships although their fees seem very high compared to an independent learning provider.

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By tom123
07th May 2014 20:32

Accounts assistant - progression

I have always worked in industry, and am now 'board' level.

I make a point of always recruiting accounts assistants who have either completed or nearly completed AAT.

Don't forget that after AAT you can continue on to CIMA (or one of the other quals).

There are a lot more businesses out there with accountancy staff in them than there are accounting practices - so you needn't worry about restricting yourself.

You have another 43 years of working life yet, probably, so plenty of time :)


Good luck

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By marting
16th Jun 2018 07:34


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By mrme89
13th May 2014 14:49



If you're looking at industry jobs, I'd say forget about apprenticeships.

Look at sales / purchase ledger roles where the employer is also willing to pay for your study support (which is a gem in its own right).

Sales / Purchase Ledger roles are usually in the £7-9ph mark.


The key is to get a foot in the door. Once you've done that swap jobs every year or so to gain further experience - obviously trying to climb higher as you go along.


Kaplan have some good rates when compared to local colleges. For AAT level 4 you're employer would also receive government funding towards your studies.

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By SavageTaxation
13th May 2014 15:35

Light at the end of the tunnel

I contract from a small accountancy firm on a regular basis and they took on a 40+ trainee who had just registered for level 2 AAT.


Maybe he was a lucky one, but it was a CV that caught their eye and he has now been there 6 months or so.


Keep looking and maybe something will come up.



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