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Carer Change

Carer Change

Hi everyone,

I am hoping that I might be able to get some advice about a complete career change and to find out if I am crazy for even considering this.  I am 31, graduated with a 2ii in German and have worked in comms in public sector for the last six years.  I recently became a dad for the first time and my priorities have changed significantly. When I think where I might be in five years time if I continue in my current career, it doesn't fill me with any confidence.  So, I've been thinking about what I might be able to do to be in a better position in five years time.  Am I mad for considering accoutancy, or with work and dedication I suppose the questions that I am looking for answers to are:

1. Is this a pipe dream?

2. Can I begin training as a chartered accountant without working for an accountancy firm or in some sort of accounts job?

3. In my brief research to date I have noticed there are lots different qualifications - which is best suited to someone changing career

4. Is my age and previous lack of experience/interest a big obstacle?

I really hope someone can help me shed some light on this.




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29th Nov 2011 22:23

1. not necessarily

2. Yes you can but to become fully qualified you need to have 3 years signed off work experience aswell. As for chartered accountant (ACA/CA) - firms usually want someone with a 2i or higher degree - you could also consider something like AAT/CAT as a starting point.

3. Probably AAT or ACCA as they are more flexible in terms of entry, tuition, work experience etc.


CIMA is more focused on management accounting

4. Possibly - there are a lot of unemployed ACCA etc. students out there - and competition for trainee positions is quite high considering the current economic climate.

Google competency questions and have a look at the wikijob website/acca careers site this lists what firms are usually looking for

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By blok
30th Nov 2011 09:41


I think you are still young enough (just) but the main barrier for you will be the low earnings initially.

I would say that it will take say 7 years of hard study and work experience before you can think about breaching the basic rate tax threshold  if you are an employee.


I used to spray cars and work in a garage and left one day to start study, but i was 10 years younger than you are and had no ties so it was not a big deal for me, but if you are hungry enough you could make it work. 

Good luck.


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30th Nov 2011 10:14

31? I was 41...

When I started.

and 44 when I started studying for my AAT qualification.

I bought a franchise in pub accountancy (honest) realised they were rubbish and decided to get some qualifications then went my own way- after getting my money back of course. 

Took four years to make any profit though.

I would start with the AAT exams: you can attend evenings/day release to see if it suits you, maybe you could do them while still in your current job?

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By neileg
30th Nov 2011 11:11

Anything is possible

But there a lot of unemployed qualified and unqualifeid accountants at the minute.

Many of the contributors to this site are self employed which usually means commited and determined and willing to take risks. If as a new dad you are risk averse, the position of the accountant as an employee is no better than many other skilled workers.

You could capitalise on your public sector experience by training as an accountant in the public sector, though training places are harder to find with the cuts.

If it ever was, an accounting qualification is no longer a meal ticket!

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By Tosie
30th Nov 2011 11:28


Why not have  a look at Chartered Institute of Public Finance.You could study whilst you work and when a job comes up in the finance section of your present set up you will be ready.

At the same time I would look at AAT and a Sage course. (there is one on groupon to-day for £60).This way you would be able to offer book-keeping services whilst you are still working and get some capital behind you before you pack it all in.



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By njp847
30th Nov 2011 11:39

Thanks to everyone for your comments, really helpful and thought provoking - so much to consider. It hasn't totally put me off either. Given the state of the economy and number of graduates I am sure competition in this field, like many others, is huge. But i would like to think that my motivation is strong enough for me to give it a damn good go.

If any of you guys were in my position, what would your first steps be? Should I start studying? Looking for trainee positions? Write/speak to local firms? Combination of all of these?


Thanks again,




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30th Nov 2011 12:22

I changed to a career in accountancy when I was just a couple of years younger than you.  It was a total change as I had worked in the hospitality industry previously and although I initially had to take a fairly significant drop in salary and cope with working and studying, I have to say that it was the best decision I ever made.

My bigest problem was finding a firm to train with because whilst I used to do the restaurant's accounts, I had no real practice experience so recruitment agents weren't interested in talking to me at all.  I ended up writing to as many local firms as I could get details of and I was pleasantly surprised by the responses I received and I eventually accepted a job with one of the them. Obviously things have changed a lot with the current climate, but I am currently an employee at a firm and we really struggle to get good people so I am sure that if you really wanted to pursue this avenue and were prepared to put in a lot of effort and potentially take a sizeable drop in salary then there will be a smallish local firm looking for someone they can train who has experience of working in an office environment.  The key is to emphasies the skills you have that you can transfer to the accountancy profession and I don't think it would hurt to let people know that you have just become a new dad so they can see that you are serious.

If I were you I would maybe take a bookkeeping course or as previously sugested a Sage course to give you a bit of a head start and a feel for the type of work to make sure you enjoy it, but I would leave the actual studying for a professional qualification until you are able to find a job as most firms will pay for this and some may have particular preferences regarding training providers and qualifications.

I hope this helps and good luck!

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30th Nov 2011 13:46

I know a number of people who have joined a Shared Service Centre starting at a low level, for example, Accounts Payable / Receivable. They have worked and studied gaining experience and the qualfications at the same time, with promotions along the way they have found themselves in decent roles with a qualfication and good prospects for the future both inside and outside of the company.


Typical example, a guy joined from Uni starting in Accounts Receivable which involved chasing customers for money, etc. He spent 3 years in this department getting some staff management experience along the way and also studying ACCA. In his 4th year he was promoted into an 'Accountant' role and at the same time qualified. He then left to join another company where he received a substantial pay rise. In 4 years he went from no accountancy experience to being qualified, having experience and staff management skills.


I should point out that he passed all his exams first time, that would be crucial for you so be prepared to set aside plenty of time each week (and I mean each week not just prior to exams) to study.

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30th Nov 2011 13:58

I wouldn't recommend it.

It's not that I don't think you'd be able to - it's that as mentioned there's a lot of accountants out there at the moment, lots of people looking into working into the sector as some sort of "safe" option and with the audit threshold changing ever higher bigger firms are fighting harder to keep accounts prep work that used to trickle down. So less work around (firms are also going under) and a lot more people wanting to do it. Prices for work and salaries are being pressured downwards as well.

However if you really do want to do it you would be best at looking either at a qualification that doesn't require working for someone qualified (so CTA and ACA are definitely out) and starting with lower end work such as payroll and bookkeeping which are quite simple at first and getting someone else to do the final accounts by agreement with you.

As Germany's one of the better EU economies at the moment, have you look at starting an import/export business from home instead? Or a consultancy to help firms export to Germany?

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By njp847
30th Nov 2011 19:49

Really interesting stuff - so thank you
Really good to hear from so many people - certainly food for thought. Lots more research to do before i take the plunge I think.

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02nd Dec 2011 11:55

Accountancy career ??

 Hi there,

Hope I can help, I am a part-qual ACCA having worked for many years in accounts.Here are my thoughts.

 I think its worth giving it a good go, I would try the AAT to see if you like the subjects first. This also gives  a few exemptions to most chartered bodies.

Have you asked at the finance dept of your workplace for information about a placement ? They may want you to start studying first.

Be careful about which body you choose, practice wages / jobs are very low paid, probably not suitable for you,

ACCA pass rate is very low  - less than 50%, they are tough exams !

ACA, have a new certificate scheme, where you study 6 base subjects, flexibly then move on if you want, but you need 3 years work exp.

Have you applied to the big 4 /6 acountancy firms for work, check the websites, they may still be recruiting, PWC, Deloittes, Grant Thornton etc.

if you study CIMA, you can go into practice later, but not audit.

CIPFA, may be a good option as its for the public sector.

Have you tried looking for graduate schemes, such as CIPFA, training/work placements ? Also there is the Audit Commission, the

HMRC are also looking for graduate trainee tax inspectors, so with these you can earn while you train. Look at the websites for details.

Apart from all the grim warnings,there is still a global shortage of qualified accountants, so although its a tough slog, its a worthwhile qualification to have. 

Good Luck !

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02nd Dec 2011 12:04

Re the lack of qualifieds comment - really depends on where you live whether that's the case. If you live in an area that's relatively prosperous that's probably true. Live in other areas and there's no lack of anyone qualified for anything - just work for them to do.

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