Share this content
0
1754

From stay at home mum to accountant - how?

Didn't find your answer?

Search AccountingWEB

I've been a stay at home mum for the past 4 years, previously having worked in a creative industry, and am keen to retain as an accountant. I've been a bit boggled looking at all the different training routes, and don't want to start down the 'wrong' path. I'm in my 30s, live in London and have a degree, I also have young children. 

In terms of moving into a 'flexible' or part-time role in the future, which training route would you suggest? I've always enjoyed working in a corporate environment so would ideally like to start out with a bit of flexibility for my family and do a career push in 5 or 6 years. Is this sensible/ realistic? Could I do the AAT, find a role and then when my children are older do the additional training? What would the pathway to being freelance look like?  Any advice much appreciated!

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
07th Nov 2018 18:52

You have to be realistic.
I'm assuming you have no accounting/bookkeeping experience.
Do you know the basics?
ie. the difference between a profit and loss account and a balance sheet - what are fixed assets, how does VAT work
why is cash king?
AAT is certainly a good place to start, but it should ideally be part of a wider, job based role.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By GR
07th Nov 2018 19:01

Starting doing ACCA and apply for work experience/junior roles.

Don't worry about freelance until you have done ACCA (it will probably take around 4 - 7 years to do this depending on how quick you are).

Thanks (0)
avatar
07th Nov 2018 19:40

AAT is a good route, you can study and work part-time. You could go on to ATT or chartered, but you may find that your AAT qualification is sufficient for the job you end up doing.

Thanks (0)
08th Nov 2018 08:09

I agree that AAT is the way to start. But getting good quality experience is the key. In the early stages experience trumps everything. If you could only work part-time at present it will be more difficult to get good quality training. However in the past I used to hire part-timers with no relevant experience but just good brains, as bookkeepers. I was able to train them up fast because of their ability to learn. I am sure wherever they are now that experience will have helped them move up the ladder.
If you start off in the junior accountant/bookkeeper slot you will learn a lot of basic stuff that can be built on as you go up the ladder.
Going freelance is a long way off, even as an experienced bookkeeper. It takes time and lots of different experience to be valuable to Joe Public.

Thanks (0)
08th Nov 2018 09:08

Think of 'training' as your right arm, and 'doing' as your left. If you are lifting weights you lift on the weakest hand, so need to train both in parallel.

As all but one respondent says (who I think has never advertised a role and seen how many 'exam qualified, zero experience' candidates there are out there, to the point they are offering to work for free!) , try and get some part time work and train for AAT along side, and take it from there. The work you are doing needs to complement your training. To be valuable to an employer you need to be smart, accurate and above all know what you are doing. The exams are really just proof you know what you are doing, in that if you are working to that level, you should be able to pass the exams with little problem. They should not be seen as an end in themselves.

There is demand for flexible workers, if you are able to be flexible, so its quite possible later on to be a freelance subbie for a practice, or potentially working on your own account, but this will be some years off.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By GONKO
08th Nov 2018 10:37

Check out Opentuition.
I have done my ACCA there and I cannot say enough good about the site.
I was able to complete the latter stages of the ACCA all online and free. You still need the books and materials and register with one of the bodies. ACCA is generally more widespread and more flexible in my opinion.

Thanks (0)
avatar
08th Nov 2018 12:11

I worked part-time from home once our youngest started school. It was great for a bit of extra income and meant I could still enjoy lots of time with all our children, including that crucial time when they were pre-teens and then teenagers. However, I was already a qualified ACA with a practising certificate. AAT sounds great as an initial qualification and may be enough on the formal side but nothing will beat work experience/job in a well-run smallish firm of accountants if you are likely to be working from home later on. You need to know enough to know what you don't know (!) and refer clients on when they need a 'deeper' service than you can give. You need to know about income tax, VAT, corporation tax and more, as well as understand bookkeeping well. Whatever training route you select (eg. AAT, part of ACCA, ...) make sure you choose a training provider with materials that do the job well for you (eg. good solid manuals as well as internet material with good-sized print for easy reading). Also check out how you get the right to practise on your own with the qualification you are looking at. It would be sad not to be able to use letters after your name, having passed the exams, because you didn't fully meet any requirement for a practising certificate. Having said all that, if you just want to do bookkeeping and not the tax side, you may not need a practising certificate. I wish you all the best while you explore your options!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Mr_awol
08th Nov 2018 13:59

It reads a little like you want a flexible job working from home and think writing up peoples' books is a simple enough task you can fit in around your daily routine, and that you can grow when the sprogs are in school.

Many a bookkeeper started like that, but few accountants.

Work out what it is you want to do. If it's genuine accountancy/tax advice, then a full time training role is the best (almost, but not quite, only) way. Round here you might expect to earn about £20k per annum + study package with a recent and relevant degree.

Thanks (0)
avatar
08th Nov 2018 14:36

Becoming a qualified accountant is difficult. It should be. It's difficult enough when you're 18-30, more so when you have financial responsibilities and responsibility for other people.

What you have described might be a reasonable route to becoming a good bookkeeper but it's a slow path to accountancy and one that might peter out. You need proper training and work experience in an accountancy environment where there are people that really know what they are doing.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By spilly
08th Nov 2018 17:30

Having retrained in later life myself, I can vouch that it is all a lot easier if you are actually working in an accounting environment. I started training at my local college on an AAT course, but found it a bit basic and not focused nearly enough on tax and companies (plus the wasted time spent on 'projects' drove me mad).
So swapped to ACCA and got exemptions from most foundation modules as they were covered by the AAT. For the last few exams I went to work in practice as I was given study leave and the job entailed doing work covering the exam aspects.
All in, it took me seven years to qualify, but I was also working full-time and raising two kids single-handed. It will be easier if you go part-time.

Thanks (0)
13th Nov 2018 11:24

Get a part time job that teaches you to run xero or sage.

If you want to know if it will suit you go online and watch all the tuition modules.

Thanks (0)
avatar
13th Nov 2018 11:28

I agree with Tom. There is a real shortage of bookeepers so you may get a practice who will offer you a position or in deed a local company.

I suggest you pick one of quickbooks/zero or sage on line and have a look and see if this is really what you want to do.

Thanks (0)
avatar
13th Nov 2018 12:56

This is actually what I did - I was a corporate trainer when the kids came along and came back off maternity leave to find my role had totally changed to a lesser role than before. Took redundancy and decided to go down the AAT route. I initially did evening classes, then changed this to a day a week at college as this was much easier to do with small kids. I got a bookkeeping job on the back of my training - no experience in bookkeeping, but the employer was willing to train me on Sage which helped. Doing bookkeeping alongside the AAT really helped in understanding the training. I did find that AAT was very relevant to what I was doing bookkeeping wise so would recommend that as an initial step if you have no experience at all. I'm now a Practice Manager of a busy accounting practice, and halfway through my ACCA qualification.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By djn
13th Nov 2018 17:27

I would say AAT is the way to go. Try to get some experience as this will be vital for your future prospects and learning.
As you have no accounting experience I would suggest that stay clear of the ACCA for now.

Thanks (0)
avatar
13th Nov 2018 17:53

Hi Pollyglasses. Don't be put off by the odd negative comment from others. It sounds like you have brains and a clear sense of where you want to get to. As a mother and qualified accountant I can vouch for accountancy as a great profession for flexibility around family. I have been freelance for 20 years and it's been great. I would agree that AAT alongside as much experience as poss in a job role is the way to start. After that, it depends upon what freelance work you'd like. I agree with WhiteRose that you may then have sufficient to do freelance bookkeeping or management accounting (which provides a steady controllable workload to fit around family). If you want to do something at a higher level then eventually ACCA or CIMA will equip you for a corporate environment.

Thanks (0)
avatar
to jennytompsett
13th Nov 2018 22:44

I haven’t spotted any negative comments.

Thanks (0)
avatar
to jennytompsett
14th Nov 2018 12:09

What negative comments? Quite the opposite in fact. Everyone has taken the time to give Pollyglasses some very good advice. Well done folks!

Thanks (0)
avatar
14th Nov 2018 11:17

AAT is a better choice to start and then think of becoming a virtual bookkeeper. Look at Accountancy Learning for training and My Bookkeeping Business for becoming a bookkeeper.

Thanks (0)
Share this content