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Mature tax trainee

30 yr old enter the tax profession?

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I'm a 30 yr old secondary school science teacher with no professional experience of taxation. How, if at all, can I change careers to become a chartered tax advisor? I know I need to do the ATT first.

I've just applied to several small firms in London for Tax Trainee positions, but am yet to hear from them. I have a BSc 2:2 in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and 280 UCAS points.   

Many thanks

Replies (11)

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By JCresswellTax
13th Jul 2016 08:57

By in a daze would advise you to study this; and try to get a job with a practice

Thanks (1)
By cheekychappy
13th Jul 2016 09:10

Don't do it.

You have a good salary considering you only work half of the year, and a decent pension.

Thanks (3)
By TheLambtonWorm
13th Jul 2016 10:00

What do you hate about your current job? If it's the kids, then teaching older ones might be better for you.

It will be a lot of hard work doing CTA exams from no experience...its certainly possible though if you're prepared to a great deal of work in.

I don't know if things have changed, but you might even need a prerequisite qualification to register as a CTA student, such as the AAT.

I'd expect you to also see a big drop in salary as you'll be staring from the bottom too, at least for a few years.

I wouldn't let the fact that you're 30 put you off though, there's plenty of time for a career charge.

I agree with Cheekys sentiments about the holidays and pension though!

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Replying to TheLambtonWorm:
By Naqeeb
13th Jul 2016 12:41

Thanks @TheLambtonWorm :)

It's just the whole package of teaching really. Kids can be very stressful, but it's the workload combined with it; the pay is diabolical when you take into account all the stresses of the job. Still have tons of respect for the profession, but just got to the point now where I'm adamant on leaving. Have no passion for it and just feel like I'm going through the motions.

I expect the big drop in pay, but my Mrs is also working so we shouldn't be too constrained financially if I pursue taxation. Fully expect to do the hard work required though.

Holidays are often a misunderstood aspect to teaching. While you may not need to go into school you usually have a lot of work to do during the half-term breaks. Summers are usually the main relaxation period, but for me its not worth half the stress you go through during the year.

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Replying to Naqeeb:
By kevinringer
15th Jul 2016 13:37

You mention "stress" a lot. There's a lot of stress being in practice. You have to build up your client, then service them - on their terms. You might plan your work so that you get everything done by the deadline but for routine tax they'll always have other priorities so won't always supply their records when needed. Then something will crop up which is important to them and you'll have to drop everything to get it done. No client likes to know they've been put to one side whilst you deal with something else. So a lot of "people" skills are required. At the end of the day the clients pay your wages so when they say jump, you ask how high. Every year you wonder whether you'll get things done by January and every year I'm amazed that neither me nor the staff have been off ill and we've done it, yet again. It can be rewarding etc, but I must warn you that it is not without stress.

No problem with changing career (one of the partners I work with qualified as a pharmacist before changing career) nor with your age.

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By soundadvice
13th Jul 2016 23:14

Hi Anonymous

I would say think very carefully about it because it won't be easy.

There is a huge amount of technical stuff to study and learn and even when you have covered the basic theory then putting it into practice is a another game entirely.

I have recently turned 60 and having qualified as a Chartered Accountant in London in 1979 with one of the big 7 firms (as they were then) and then spent 35 years in industry I was about to retire 4 years ago when I decided it was a bit too early to do this and I fancied one more challenge and a return to tax and accounting.

I spent 18 months studying intensely and with the help of BPP Training, home study and a few other courses I passed all the level 4 Investment Management exams (for general interest in finance, investments and personal taxation) a number of accounting (AAT) and tax exams and finally a 5 week residential course to the point where I was able to satisfy the ICAEW that I was at a level that was acceptable to them and they felt they could give me a Practicing Certificate.

I then set up as a sole practitioner and started to build a small practice continuing to study and research as much as I could and to call upon the help of tax and accountancy support companies and also accountingweb when I couldn't work out the answers on my own.

It has proven much harder than I thought but it is getting easier now with 2 and a half years of practical experience under my belt on top of the study so I would say it is not an easy profession to break into if you are keen to do it properly and to do your best for your clients.

Certainly if you could learn your skills within an existing established practice with supervision on hand all the time and support to do the exams I would think that would be the best option. In the meantime if your are serious then start some studying towards ATT (tax qualification) and AAT (accounting qualification) which will hopefully help in the search for a trainee placement

I now have approx 130 clients and am adding 4 to 5 a month to this which I am very happy with. There have been many long hours spent researching answers to clients problems and queries and it has been a much tougher slog than I imagined.

So I would say think about it very carefully; it won't be easy but it can be done if you stick with it.

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By roblpm
14th Jul 2016 09:14

OK I have actually done this...............

I worked in IT - great salary for doing not much. Did my head in! I also hated working for big companies. I also ran a small business on the side which gave me the idea to get in to tax.

So I started the ACCA exams off my own bat and actually landed a trainee job to become an Accountant. However going from a job in a multinational in the CIty of London to an accountancy practice in Edinburgh was like going back to the 18th Century. So I quit and got together with another guy and started a prcatice. Did my ATT and CTA while going along!

Anyway my first point is what sort of job do you think you will get/want. If you end up in practice you need to like talking to clients. Some tax people dont like this and want to sit in a cupboard! A trainee who moved on from us now works at Lloyds. Then you are a small cog in a big machine. I would make sure you understand what type of jobs there are.

The exams are fun if you like studying. To be honest that might be the problem, you retrain and then find you dont like the pay/working environment.

I am happy to answer any other questions you have.



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Replying to Retiring Accountant:
By Ruddles
14th Jul 2016 10:48

Have you changed your mind? Not that long ago you were "Retired Accountant"

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By Accountax
15th Jul 2016 12:52

I don't normally reply to these queries but as I'm a tax consultant and my wife is a teacher I have a bit of insight (I hope). Initially you might be able to improve your chances of getting into practice by gaining experience within HMRC. Thats assuming HMRC have any vacancies. They do have a graduate entry scheme but you could (at least in my day) join at a lower grade based on A-levels. With a couple of years under your belt with HMRC you should find passing ATT fairly easy. CTA is much tougher and should be considered as being at or very close to degree level of technical complexity. Time with HMRC would also give you an insight into how the other half live. This can be invaluable in life in practice. With HMRC experience you might also find roles in industry opening up to you.

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By Tom 7000
15th Jul 2016 18:06

Do ACA/ ACCA not tax exams. You are picking a niche.
The accounts exams wll give you a better grounding overall and give you much more options.

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By Tom 7000
15th Jul 2016 18:07

PS the ACA and ACCA exams will give you enough tax knowledge to know whaqt you are doing

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