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Path to be an accountant, over 30 no experience?

Would like to make a career change to accounting.

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Hi guys, I'm 31, currently work for a small retail shop so don't really have a career. Left school with all my GCSE's but no A-levels and didn't go to uni. Recently decided I'd like to have a proper career but wasn't really sure about what to do. Had an idea of something working with numbers like finance, accountat, actuary etc. Decided to do an Open University degree in mathematics thinking that I would need a degree not matter which career I decided upon. Started it in October, intending to do it hopefully do it full time over 3 years which I know is very difficult alongside a full time job. Since then after some more research I have decided I definitely wanr to be an accountant. I was wondering what the best way to go about this would be. I believe you don't NEED a degree to be an accountant? In that case what would be the best path for me now? Will it be near impossible for me to get a trainee position given my age and lack of experience? Would it help if I were to study for a qualification myself? And if so would AAT or ACCA be better? I could pause my degree once I finish off my current modules and use that time to study a specific accounting module if that be more worthwhile.

Thank you in advance for any advice.

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By Mr_awol
13th May 2021 16:04

Why do you want to be an accountant, what area specifically are you looking to move into (being the internal accountant to a company or working in a practice acting for many different companies) and what financial commitments do you have (house, wife, kids, etc)?

The answers may shape your course.

You don't need a degree, although a relevant degree may be helpful. As you have no A Levels you probably wouldn't be taken on by a practice to go straight into chartered or certified. You might get a place where they will see how it goes for a year or two before discussing study.

As an example, round here, trainees are often graduates or good A level candidates who might start on just under £20k with paid training for Chartered or Certified - and there are plenty of candidates every year. A whole new load of them will be coming on the market in a month or so, and that is what you are up against.

If going into 'industry' (internal accountant for companies, the local council, etc) you might get a data processy job fairly easily. It wouldn't pay much but might provide some potential for advancement and/or study.

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By paul.benny
13th May 2021 16:08

In terms of the jobs that people do, accountancy isn't a single profession: in public practice, the nature of work varies considerably between large firms and small firms. And there's probably a wider range for accountants working in 'industry' (ie most places outside public practice). Plus of course public sector and similar.

Find people who can talk to you about what they do. Try and work what fits best with what you're looking for.

Even though it's a small store, you're the manager. So you're in charge. Are you Ok with being a junior again and being told what to do by people 10 years younger than you.

Why accountancy? Rather than Not Retail. You'll need to convince people who might hire you.

Don't self-study a finance qualification. They go alongside experience. Qualifications without experience are more or less worthless.

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By memyself-eye
13th May 2021 18:16

I disagree - qualifications are the yardstick by which potential employers judge you.
No qualifications = not worth interviewing= no job..
I have qualifications in banking, asset finance and (shock horror) accountancy. Each one got me a better job/career EVEN THOUGH THAT WASN'T APPARANT AT THE TIME.
I had no prior experience in any of these fields. (mind you I was only 19 when I went into banking- hated it!)

Trust me on this - a qualification is never wasted - you never know when it will be used in the future.

AAT is a good place to start.

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panda ketteringUK
By ketteringUK
13th May 2021 19:35

Don't give up your dream but you will need perseverance, dedication and applying yourself to the limit. And a little bit of luck for somebody to give you a shot.

Started my first bookkeeping job at 29. No formal qualifications within accountancy. Finished foreign a-levels (faculty chemistry, physics and maths).
Now 13 years later I'm a practice manager

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