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Too old for accountancy?

Too old for accountancy?

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I'm currently working as admin for a mortgage broker, which is obviously finance related, and I'm studying for my CeMAP as part of my job, which would enable me to become a mortgage adviser.

However I'd like to make the move into accountancy, and I like the idea of working in a practice. I've looked up the ACCA qualification and it all looks very interesting. However, i'm 26 years old, with an engineering degree.

I could work in a tax related way as a full financial adviser, but I really don't like all the sales targets / commission etc. I'd much rather be on a set salary working for client I don't have to sweet talk into taking advice.

Do I have a chance at becoming an accountant? Would studying for F1 - F3 in my spare time help my chances if I put it on my CV?

Thanks for any insight.

Replies (31)

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By mrme89
08th Oct 2014 20:06

Too old at 26? No chance; you've over 40 years till you reach state pension age!


If you've never worked in accountancy, you my struggle with ACCA. Have you considered doing AAT first? On completion of the AAT it will exempt you from the foundation level of ACCA. It's also much cheaper than ACCA so you can get a feel for accountancy before committing a load o cash!


Once you've done a stage of ACCA / AAT, I'd start looking for relevant jobs and / or some volunteer work to gain some experience.


Good luck!

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By The VAT Doctor
08th Oct 2014 23:45

Years left

Bloody hell, you're just a babe in arms!  I work somewhere where the average partner years at the firm is over 25 and quite a few people are into the 30 years plus mark, some with other careers before this.

It's not exactly manual labour is it?!

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By Howard Marks
09th Oct 2014 00:09

Plenty of time

Definitely not too old and agree with the AAT route.


If you can have AAT done, ACCA well underway and a couple of yrs in practice by the time you're 30 you'll be in a fantastic position.


It's never too late....

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09th Oct 2014 09:33

I did the AAT route

I never planned to become an accountant initially, in fact never went to Uni but went to college to train as a secretary and got a job as a secretary in accounts firm.

Switched jobs with someone within the firm and then studied and obtained AAT at 24yrs and then eventually ICAS and became chartered at 30yrs.  My fellow partner was at least 10 yrs older before she started studying to become chartered.

So, no you're not too old & I would second the AAT route, there are lots of options of how you can obtain this qualification and its well known.

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By Chris Maslin
09th Oct 2014 09:45

Agree with comments that of course you're not too old.

However, I personally disagree with advice about going for AAT first.  You say you've got an engineering degree...admittedly that could be scraping a pass from a rubbish university, but assuming not, I think you'd find AAT a complete walk in the park and should go straight into ACCA.

I know someone, bright person, average maths A level then a music degree.  They started on AAT and found it patronisingly easy.  Did most of the first level then gave up, jumping to ACCA.  Sure, they haven't found it easy, but they've coped just fine.

Your idea of sitting the first few exams off your own back is a good one.  To be honest it's not so much the knowledge you'll gain, it's more that it demonstrates your commitment to becoming an accountant.  I'm sure many posters on here are similar to me in that we get speculative CVs in fairly often, and for someone in your current position my thoughts would be "he's unhappy in his current job and wants something better...but is probably sending out similar applications to firms of lawyers/architects etc".

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By mrme89
09th Oct 2014 09:59

I agree that the first level of AAT is ridiculously easy. However, Level 3 and 4 has costing, sole trader / partnership accounts / ltd company accounts, cash flow forecasting, personal / business tax etc. If you feel the first level is too easy, it is possible to start the AAT at level 3.

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By Howard Marks
09th Oct 2014 10:48


AAT may well be a walk in the park study wise but it will give you an excellent grounding in the likes of double entry and the true mechanics of it all.  ACCA, even the foundation part, almost presumes you know the basics.

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By MzEden
09th Oct 2014 10:58

Cheap course?


If you do want to do AAT this might be of interest.

I don't know how accurate the 'original price' is or whether this actually is a bargain or not.

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By GuestXXX
17th Mar 2015 17:36


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Tony s
By Tony S
09th Oct 2014 12:18

Go for it kid!

I was 31 years old when I first picked up an ACCA study text, with no accountancy experience and no university degree. After sitting the first paper I was convinced Accountancy was for me (after trying several different careers). Yes the studying was bloody hard work but the fact that I had made the commitment to study accountancy, and had passed some exams, helped me secure my first accountancy position at 33 years old.

My advice is go straight to ACCA, you certainly sound like you're a lot brighter than me/tried harder at school, and I managed it. But make no mistake ACCA ( or any other chartered exams) is tough going, but worth it.

The only thing you need to seriously consider, which you may not have thought of, is if you want to work for yourself one day and when. The AAT are a lot more flexible than the Chartered bodies in allowing their students to go in to practice for themselves. It took me 10 years to get qualified and gain suitable experience to obtain a practising certificate from the ACCA so I could start my own practice, something which if I'd taken the AAT route I could have done from day 1!




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By Liz D
09th Oct 2014 12:47


Unless your planning on retiring at 30 your definitely not too old to become an accountant.  After working as a Management Accountant (QBE) I took the bookkeeping route because I did feel it was too late in my 50's to be go the chartered accountant route as I  would be thinking of retiring by the time I passed the exams.

As the mrme89 stated you've at least 40 years before you'll be getting your state pension so time enough for several careers. 

Good luck whether you go AAT first or straight to ACCA.


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By Martin B
09th Oct 2014 12:52

I wish ...

I could be 26 again.

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By MrAccounting
10th Oct 2014 11:48

Reach your goals

You're never too old to chase an career aspiration!

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By andy.partridge
10th Oct 2014 12:30

Better idea, easier goal

Most of the IFAs I deal with earn more than me, so you might want to consider working for yourself in future. There are various options for teaming up with other organisations who can look after your compliance issues.

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By Gaynor
10th Oct 2014 12:32

Go straight to ACA

I too left uni with an Engineering degree and went into software engineering. I was soon bored and went to nightschool to do a basic book keeping course and a running your own business course.

At 24 I applied to a local multi office firm of chartered accountants and was taken on as a trainee.

I did a short "Graduate conversion" course, and then went straight into ACA. I didn't want to waste more years than I had to in getting the qualifications.

Nothing that I encountered in the accountancy exams came close to the complexity of the engineering exams! Your engineering background will give you a good analytical foundation.

So don't waste your time with AAT. Go for it!

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By CStone1980
10th Oct 2014 12:34

not too old, but....

With no experience or qualification, you will really have to start at the bottom, and the pay in starter roles is not great, it takes a bit of experience and some qualification (part qualified) before you start to see that increase

But if you are keen, and want to go the whole way, my vote would be straight into the ACCA route, if that's your overall intention long term, you can do the first 3 papers pretty quickly thanks to CBA exams. AAT will be a little easier, but will take longer as there are a lot of asssments to do for each level






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By madhumorjaria
10th Oct 2014 12:46

Not old at all...

When I first started working for a firm of accountants, there was a guy there who had started working and studing for ACCA and he was 46yrs old!


Never too late to learn anything IMO

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By MarkKing
10th Oct 2014 13:06

I went straight into ACCA at 24 and have gone straight through the exams without a hiccup. I do have a maths degree and fantastic work support (study courses and days paid) but I feel that anyone with a degree level education and a mathematical mind should skip AAT if they can.

At 30 I am qualified and managing a small practice.

Good luck.

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By Rob.Guy
10th Oct 2014 13:11

You think 26 is old...??!!

I didn't start my ACA training until I was 40 after a career as a research scientist. I trained at a local, 4 partner firm in the audit department and now I am the finance manager at a Biotech company. The biggest problem I had was the pay cut I had to take when I started the training contract (wife, 2 children, mortgage, etc), but I don't regret it.

I did get a lot of rejections when I applied for training contracts, presumably because of my age (let's not pretent it doesn't happen...), but you shouldn't have such a problem. The only other issue is making time for the studying, but that's just a question of getting organised. My children were quite sad when I finished all of the exams. This was because, rather than forcing them to go outside and take an interest in the world around them, I would let them watch more television than usual so that I could have some peace and quiet to study. You might have more moral fibre than me and so issues like this may not be a problem.

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By claresutton
10th Oct 2014 13:19

I'm 28 and due to sit my ACA finals in July 2015. I don't have a relevant degree or the AAT but I'm doing just fine. It's a long, frustrating process though so be prepared to give up your social life for a while :)

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By moufflon
10th Oct 2014 13:44

Definitely not too old...

I started ACA accountancy training aged 32 as a graduate trainee at PwC. New graduates were definitely the majority, but it was far from exceptional to have graduate trainees with several years experience doing something else beforehand (industry, PhD etc).

If you have the academics to get in and can survive on the trainee salary for 3 years, I'd definitely recommend looking into this route - the problem with self study whilst doing something else is that you just don't get the professional experience which is very hard to learn from a book, and if your aspirations were beyond AAT, you'd only want to go down that route if it was the only option open, or only option that fitted with other commitments, or you were very keen on practicing on your own at an early stage.

Can't say I really enjoyed practice, or the lifestyle being a big 4 trainee, but the quality of the experience in career terms and business experience is hard to match, and I think ultimately it was a very positive thing to do.

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By regaziz
10th Oct 2014 14:20


I got my ACCA at the age of 48 and took the AAT route. I did my own accounts (self employed in retail sector) for 15 years before that and helped some friends and family with theirs. I am 54 now and have my own practice with over 50 clients. So it's never too late to start at any age.



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By James26
10th Oct 2014 14:24

Tax related way

If you are defintely set on working in tax then I believe there is an ATT followed by CTA route.  I know PwC used to offer that.  Many people in tax do the ACA first and then do a CTA afterwards but the ATT/CTA route may be a bit quicker but is harder to transfer out of tax if you choose to do that later. 

No not too old you've a similar history to me at your age.  If you've a 2.1 you've a reasonable chance of getting onto one of the Big4/large multi-office firms graduate training programme.  That way they will pay for the training and time out of the office.  Hope it goes well.

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By raybackler
10th Oct 2014 18:53

Never too young or too old

On the way through my qualification, I met lots of ancient people under the age of 26, who have gone on to far better things.  When you are in your early twenties, someone of 26 has had much more life experience and I looked up to them, even though they were starting later.  Age is only a state of mind and a few wrinkles!!

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10th Oct 2014 19:11

Do Not Waste Any More Time

If this is what you want to do - go straight for it - ACA or ACCA . Its not easy but then nothing is .

Good Luck 

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By LDunford
10th Oct 2014 20:07

Too old for accountancy
I started studying AAT when I was 28 and then went on to do ACCA. Definitely not too old.

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By ronlfoot
10th Oct 2014 22:22

You're never too old ...

... to rock and roll if you're too young to die.

Personally, if I had my time again, I'd rather be .....A LUMBERJACK.

Why would anyone choose to live their life leaping from FRS to FRS and spend all their waking hours waiting for HMRC to answer the telephone?

Still, looking on the bright side, accountancy is a bit like living in Bournemouth, when death comes it's no great change.

Good luck with it.  It is what you make it. Just don't take it too seriously.


Ron, the unchartered accountant







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By LauraW1982
11th Oct 2014 23:28

Never Too Old

Follow your dreams ! You re never too old. I am 32 and studying Level 4 AAT now... When completing some of the exams, there have been many older people than myself sitting exams!

AAT comes with flexible study options, allowing me to study in the evenings/weekends and wok full time during the week!


Good Luck with what ever you decide.


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By ronlfoot
12th Oct 2014 00:09

Level 4 what?

If AAT has got at least four levels, what is level 1?  Is that where you learn that the debits are on the left?

If you've got the entry qualifications you should really go for membership of a widely recognised (preferably internationally) professional body.  For preference one with "chartered" in its title. Mind you, since the certifieds, the cost and works and the municipal treasurers all got themselves "chartered", it's not what it used to be.

For those of a sensitive disposition, the last remark was intended to be more sardonic than disrespectful and if I cause offence, I'm sorry.


Ron, the unchartered accountant






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18th Feb 2015 09:36

i am also in the same boat :-)

Dear Friends,

I am very new to accountancy, I am from IT background and working in a company as a IT support since 7 years.

Looking for a  career change in accountancy. I would be really grateful if you can give me some advice on is it possible to start from scratch in your 40's to learn accountancy ( I am 42 ). keeping in mind I have a family and mortgage.


Please advice me how to proceed in the right direction. Do the companies give change to new people at my age? looking forward for all the expert advice and suggestions.

Many thanks in advance.

Kind Regards


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By bilajio
12th Feb 2016 12:21

i can relate

I am CeMAP qualified, having qualified at 18, and at 28 was ACCA qualified, having began studyinf at 24.

I didn't enjoy the whole locking people into contracts longer than i'd been alive and seeing them struggle to make payments (i did it nearly 10 years ago when you could get 125% mortgages).

Recession meant i had to leave the indiustry and worked in telecoms for a couple of years before deciding i wanted to become an accountant at around 23. 

So i started saving and fully paid up the ACCA course with LSBF (wouldnt touch them with a barge pole), took me nearly 4 years (year in between) whilst working full time ( i later moved onto KAPLAN which was funded by my employers, and they are fantastic)

Started off working in retail and then took nearly 18 motnhs of applying for various roles to finally land a job which turned out to be an internal move with the retailer i was working at.

What worked well in my favour was that i proved i had the desire to become an accountant as i left a well paid job and self financed, along with having a very commercial l approach.

Took me 3 years from not knowing basic double entry to managing a £10m budget and working on the annual report of a FTSE 250 company.

My advise is dont just take any job in the 1st instance, ask yourself where you want to be and what your CV needs to look like to get there. Taking a payroll job/ accounts payable role may see you pigeon holed later in your career, 

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