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Dilemma about my Accounting Career

Is experience in practice vital for accountancy career?

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I have been looking for answers on what is the best path to my  accounting career because even though i am starting late ( 29yrs now) I want to be the best that i can be in my field. I want to make best use of my years ahead and hopefully recover the lost years in my career. I am motivated to work my way up.

I am currently on last two papers on my ACCA and i am confident of clearing it within 6 months, then i plan to do an online masters. Right now i work at an office which has a finance company and a care company ( same owner) . I am assisting book keeping( sage), payroll, general accounting duties and also managment accounting in finance side. The work environment is great and i am learning first hand experience, however the accountants working there are not CA.

I keep wondering if it is okay for me to start my journey in industry and try to work my way up, or must i have a practice experience? This late at my age and with no prev experience it will be difficult for me to get any opportunity in practice and i dont know if it will be the right choice for me. But to be the best at what i do, from my knowledge i somehow feel like i need that practice experience ( correct me if my thinking is wrong ). Then i hear stories about people jumping from practice to industry as soon as they qualify. Hence i am in constant dilemma what is the best way in my situation. And will i be able to gain my ACCA membership by working only in industry??

I am so undecided about my career. There were personal reasons and circumstances which has delayed my career but i want to be positive and be able to catch up and work hard. Please, accountants with similar experience or you all who have been working,  advise me. your suggestions and knowledge would be of great help to me.....and thank in advance

Replies (10)

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By andy.partridge
16th Jan 2019 21:27

You can get ACCA membership without stepping inside an Accountancy practice, but I don’t think you mean that. Don’t you mean a practising certificate?

What’s the point of an online masters? You should think how your limited time and energy is going to get you from A to B in career terms. You might know better than I but the masters sounds like a distraction.

Thanks (1)
Replying to andy.partridge:
By Accountant A
16th Jan 2019 23:02


What’s the point of an online masters? You should think how your limited time and energy is going to get you from A to B in career terms. You might know better than I but the masters sounds like a distraction.

My thoughts exactly. Give me good quality work experience every time.

Thanks (5)
16th Jan 2019 21:59

You do not need practice experience. You can qualify in industry if you work with CA. The stuff you are doing sounds quite similar to practice anyway. Assuming you like industry, you should apply for a promotion in another company ASAP.

Thanks (2)
Replying to GR:
By [email protected]
17th Jan 2019 00:01

Thanks for clearing that for me. I thought i had to jump to practice to be qualified.

Thanks (0)
By Mr_awol
16th Jan 2019 23:46

The reason people skip to industry upon qualifying is that it’s fairly easy to earn reasonable money in industry, and practice to industry is a much easier transition than the other way round.

That doesn’t mean that practice experience automatically makes someone ‘better’ or somehow instantly able to take an FD post. There’s still plenty to learn when travelling in either direction. For example if I moved to industry I’d need advice and training on what to do with the remaining three days a week.......

Seriously though, what do you actually want to move up in? If industry, then stay there rather than hopping to practice only to switch back when you think you’ve covered a cv requirement. If you do want a practice career, move across as soon as possible as you’re only going to become less marketable in that filed where you are - not more.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
By Paul Barclay
25th Jan 2019 17:15

Please, you are making me feel bad. I work in industry and am shocked that you believe I work as much as 2 days per week - this is crazy talk!

Thanks (0)
Replying to Paul Barclay:
Hallerud at Easter
25th Jan 2019 17:19

Well I only go in three days a week these days but we have a snooker table in store at work and I do keep suggesting we move it to the large central open areas in our offices- frankly wasting time on Accounting Web to fill the hours only goes so far and I do not get on with golf (or it does not get on with me)

Thanks (0)
By [email protected]
17th Jan 2019 00:00

Hi thanks all for your views
My dilemma is i dont know if i can excel in accounting field in general without practice experience. As far as my career as to whether i would like to open my own practice, i am not so sure. Listening to some few who works in practice, they dont seem to like it. But my limited understanding is, the ones who does practice earns more ?

So far i love the working environment at my work but in hindsight i somehow think maybe by getting into practice i get to learn more as there are senior and higly qualified accountants? Maybe i am confusing myself too much.

By looking at you guys views and more research, i am now swaying more towards staying in industry and working my way up, maybe try different industry later if i want some change.

I just wanted assurance that there is a way to good and lucrative career this way as well.

Thanks everyone. Much appreciated

Thanks (0)
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
17th Jan 2019 07:24

It totally depends on what you want to do - what’s your end game / long term aspirations?

It’s like asking if you turn left or right - where are you trying to get to?

If you want to stay in industry & become a FC/FD then stay. If you want to open your own practice (the only way to make real money in practice), then you’ll need to apply for local accountancy firms. TBH most small ones will find you too expensive for the (no offence) level you’ll be at (practice is a different skill set from industry). Look for a firm that offers FC/FD services to clients - they might appreciate your time in industry, but finish your qualification first.

Thanks (1)
By KrisKros
18th Jan 2019 22:58


As other have said it depends on your end game.

Being in industry requires generally speaking a broad level of accountancy knowledge, within small business it's all rather straightforward, within the corporate world there is a lot more compliance work and auditing (shudders)

If it's money as your goal getting roles leading to FC/FD is desirable such as management accounting roles in a reasonable sized organisation 200+ employees, or a smaller one with aggressive growth plans with a strong FD

That said, there are those in practise who are doing very well financially, but they take a long time to get to the level of experience required to acheive that.

Personally i've worked in SME's, within the corporate world and i'm currently moving into practise as a management accountant/bookkeeper as i prefer the variety of the work.

Thanks (1)
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