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What would you do in my situation?

I need advice how to build my accounting career after a long illness

I graduated from an American university in 2012 with a Bachelor's degree (magna cum laude) in accounting (which gives me ACCA exemptions for F1-F3). Unfortunately I got severely ill afterwards (depression) and I couldn't work until recently. So this means that it has been 5 years since I've graduated.

Now that I'm healthy again I'd like to do something accounting related again, as I really enjoyed my degree and I really like doing accounting. However, I'm not sure what would be the best way to do that. I assume that applying for accounting jobs is probably not a good idea, as there are many people whose knowledge is fresher than mine (correct me if I'm wrong). So I thought about doing the AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2). It shouldn't be too difficult for me, as my degree already covered many topics (bookkeeping...). I also thought about doing a postgraduate taught degree in accounting. The University of Dundee (Scotland) offers a master's degree called "Professional Accountancy", which costs £6,000. If you pass all exams, you get exemptions from ACCA papers F1-F9. To do this degree, I would have to go into debt (about £5,000).

I really don't know what I should do: apply for accounting jobs, do AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting and apply for accounting jobs after having finished it, or doing a postgraduate degree with ACCA exepmtions? Or maybe you know an even better option that would get me on the way towards a job in accountancy.

Your ideas and input are highly appreciated! Thank you.

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04th Nov 2017 23:02

You need practical experience. The longer you go getting more qualifications without experience the less attractive you will be to employers.

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to andy.partridge
05th Nov 2017 07:07

Do you mean practical experience in an accounting job, or work experience in general?

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to mrbluesky
05th Nov 2017 09:32

I mean practical experience in accountancy if that is the career you are intent on pursuing.

Your qualification is like an attractive new car that gets noticed, but your experience is the engine that will take you places.

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to andy.partridge
06th Nov 2017 08:30

Nice analogy.

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05th Nov 2017 07:07

Do you think you would like to work in practice or as part of the finance/accounts department of a company/charity/organisation? Do you want the freedom/risk of working for yourself or do you like the structure of a job?

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05th Nov 2017 09:32

I think the AAT foundation will be too easy after your degree. See if you can study AAT level 3 or 4 instead?

And study alongside getting practical experience in accounting.

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05th Nov 2017 10:32

I would look to get a job and do acca or aca qualification alongside. A training position will be low salary but with your exemptions you would be qualified in a few years.
Obviously depends on how much stress you can cope with as to how quickly you qualify.

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06th Nov 2017 12:58

Just to add, congratulations on coming out the other side of what is a horrible, debilitating illness. I am sure you have already considered it, but it may be advisable to try to 'ease in' gently as the stress levels associated with working in practice can be high (even when working for a firm, rather than for yourself, with client deadlines, employers measuring chargeable time and recovery rates, etc) and it would be a shame to put your recovery back by diving straight in at the deep end. Many of us (including me in the past) have suffered from depression, so please believe that my comment is meant to be affirmative and helpful, not in any way minimising what you have gone through.

Having got that out of the way, you might want to try applying to a smaller practice (where the time/fees pressure on employees may also be less than (say) the Big 4) and working your way up to being able to apply for "better" jobs to utilise your new experience and existing qualifications to the full - or you might find that you love it where you are and want to stay. Whichever route you choose, very best wishes for the future.

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06th Nov 2017 15:08

As said before, you would be better off getting practical experience with ACCA study support included. Make sure the company is one you can try and progress in. I completed all AAT and ACCA whilst stuck in entry level jobs and am now overqualified for my experience.

Well done for getting healthy again!

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By mrap
07th Nov 2017 10:51

Firstly, start working to get practical experience without studying - it will lead to additional stress.
Work stress < Work stress + Study stress

When You have worked seriously for about 1-2 years, You can start thinking whether to gain any qualifications or not.

I am myself from other European country, worked for 4 years in Big audit, now I am in industry and thought about doing ACCA too because I didn't start it then. After a month long thinking, putting all the pros/cons on paper, I decided that I don't need it, because outside of Big 4 here no one asks for ACCA or other qualifications, it's good to have but not obligatory. You only need that if You are a manager trying to transition directly to CFO level positions. Once You are in industry before making to audit manager, You will most likely have little added value from qualifications. I have respect for those who have such things, but for me I see that I don't need it for now.

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