I want to retrain as an accountant? Best route?

I’m in my mid thirties and looking to retrain as an accountant but unsure of the best route

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I'm in my mid thirties. Mum to three. I worked as an accounts assistant from 16-21 years. Then was a stay at home mum, until 30. I'm working as a healthcare assistant at the moment but wanting to train as an accountant but unsure whether to go with AAT's or ACCA? I feel very rusty with my numbers but think it'll come back to me. I will probably need to do the training online due to childcare and work shifts. Any advice would be very much appreciated. 

Replies (12)

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By Maslins
29th Aug 2023 11:27

Are you purely looking to do study in your own time? Or can you commit certain hours a week to a part time role in accountancy with study around it?

If the latter, worth sending speculative applications to firms near you. You've got some relevant experience (albeit a bit dated). Whilst the salary may be modest, they may be prepared to pay for your studies.

Whether you opt for AAT or ACCA really depends on your confidence. AAT is more basic. Possibly it'll be painfully easy for you. Or possibly ACCA may be a stretch. Really depends what you've done before, how much time/brainpower you can dedicated to it.

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By paul.benny
29th Aug 2023 11:45

Or you may find a company that will take you on and (hopefully) support training. It's worth also talking to finance recruiters in your area.

Where did you work before children? Have you tried contacting them, any former colleagues?

I'd suggest trying to get a relevant job to get yourself back in the swing and then broaching study.

Good luck.

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paddle steamer
29th Aug 2023 12:00

You may first want to first brush up-

Arithmetic skills- addition , subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, percentages, ratios etc if not used for a while.

Maths -ACCA Business finance may be easier with being comfortable with basic algebra conventions/manipulation of formulae etc if you wish to go anywhere past rote learning when understanding some of the models/proofs, also useful with economics as is a little calculus (Do ACCA do economics in their qualification, no idea??)

English skills- If away from study for a while these can get rusty.

I suspect you may not have studied much post school based on your career, if that is the case AAT may be a more gradual re-introduction .

For instance I am currently considering some OU courses and despite holding two university qualifications the elapsed years have me now considering going back at level 1 rather than launching straight in to level 2, time makes skills very rusty and memory leaks.

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Replying to DJKL:
Out of my mind
By runningmate
29th Aug 2023 12:15

DJKL wrote:

You may first want to first brush up-

Arithmetic skills- addition , subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, percentages, ratios etc if not used for a while.

Really? I thought the whole point of double entry bookkeeping was that accountants didn't have to learn anything more complicated than addition!
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Replying to runningmate:
paddle steamer
29th Aug 2023 13:43

Well, try apportioning etc with just addition, or try an IRR calc, or a NPV calc, or a weighted cost of capital, or share valuations, or the myriad other things an accountant might need to do- frankly imho getting the Debits and Credits correct is merely step one. (and really not very difficult)

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By spilly
29th Aug 2023 13:36

If you do AAT, you can then do ACCA afterwards if you want. ACCA will give you exemptions for the exams they deem to be covered by the AAT qualification.
However, it is almost impossible to get a practice certificate from ACCA if you don’t have a supervisor able to sign stuff off, so at some stage you may need to change to an employer capable of this.
I started studying for ACCA in my thirties, mostly self-funded at adult education evening classes though instead of lonely home study. In the end I moved into practice as working in industry wasn’t giving me the experience I needed, plus they paid for training and study weeks.
Good luck with whatever course you choose!

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
29th Aug 2023 13:50

As above I echo the comments above but make the point more strongly that the best option by a mile is to work with a firm rather than independent study. The exam side of things is all very well, but its the "doing" where most of the learning is.

An employer should help guide you on the relevant path in terms of exams, but AAT to ACCA is a well trodden path, and if you are smart enough for ACCA, AAT won't take long. If you know you are ACCA material, then you could do the AAT as a home study course, but quite frankly you are only learning 25% of what you would along side a day job.

From a jobs point of view, the world is awash with "exam trained" accountants who are about as much use as a chocolate teapot. But there are always openings for smart keen people. Smaller firms in particular might be more willing to take a risk on training a "non standard" candidates [many firms are only set up for school leavers into AAT etc], and may be more flexible around hours.

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By The Dullard
29th Aug 2023 16:22

Sorry, but restraining accountants just isn't on!

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Replying to The Dullard:
paddle steamer
29th Aug 2023 17:15

Some might like it.

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By Leywood
30th Aug 2023 08:30

Start with AAT to see if it is really what you want. You should be able to do all of that within about 4 months with your experience. My son did it in just less, without any prior experience.

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Replying to Leywood:
the sea otter
By memyself-eye
30th Aug 2023 11:41

Agree - AAT is the way to go.

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By listerramjet
01st Sep 2023 10:59

AAT is a good starting point, offering a valuable qualification and a route to employment or self-employment. Some would then go on to ACCA, ACA or CIMA, depending on their particular career desires. Plenty of providers who will probably offer advice.

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