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Which, if any, qualification at my age?

Over 34 and trying to decide if it's worth even trying for either ACA or something similar?

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Dear All

I'd be most grateful for advice: I've always been good with numbers and have degrees in both Economics and Finance, however, I mostly worked in a combination of research, marketing, and book-keeping roles; lately, my role has always included at least some basic book-keeping.  I've been considering becoming a qualified accountant, so I could potentially help clients like my current boss put their accounts together correctly. However, I wasn't sure if it's not too late for me to get a qualification as I'm over 34 now - simply because you have to work in an established practice while getting qualified and I wasn't sure if it's possible to get accepted as a part-qualified accountant when you're no longer a university graduate. My second question would be about the type of qualification I'd need: it seems there're several that are popular, such as ACA, ACCA, CIMA, etc., which would be the most suitable if the goal was to first work with an existing practice and then on a self-employed basis?

I'd be most grateful for some advice on how to start this process or even if it's possible.

Many thanks and kind regards



Replies (9)

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By johnt27
20th Feb 2018 15:03

It's never too late. Most practices should take you on as an ACA or ACCA student as long as you are a strong candidate and willing to accept trainee pay rates. You're unlikely to study CIMA unless working in industry so you need to choose which you prefer.

You can study AAT, CIMA and ACCA in your own time and this might be a good start before hunting for training positions.

ACA requires relevant work experience to be acquired during a training contract so you can't study this privately. Not sure on the work experience requirements of CIMA/ACCA.

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Replying to johnt27:
By 1 2
20th Feb 2018 17:04

johnt27 wrote:

It's never too late. Most practices should take you on as an ACA or ACCA student as long as you are a strong candidate and willing to accept trainee pay rates.

This. You're definitely not too old, but where we've had more mature candidates in the past, with experience and corresponding payrises in other fields, they're normally put off by the hefty pay cut (albeit short term) they'd need to take.

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By andy.partridge
20th Feb 2018 15:14

"I've been considering becoming a qualified accountant, so I could potentially help clients like my current boss put their accounts together correctly."

If the idea of a professional qualification appeals, then go for it. The challenge will be getting the practical experience to support it at a salary that is attractive for you. However, you do not have to be a qualified accountant to do the things you say you want to do.

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By ATTServices
20th Feb 2018 16:09

As the others have stated, it's never too late to change careers.

If you are interested in going the practice route (specifically ACA or ACCA ) then be prepared to take a significant pay cut to get a trainee contract (Ranging from £14k - £23k a year typically for a first year dependent on location), which will increase each year as you progress through the qualification (Fully qualified earning £32k-£40k).

The benefit of the above is that you will gain invaluable experience working on actual clients, your employer generally bears the cost of the course and will give you study time if they are a reputable firm.

The downside being that you may have to take a significant pay cut and find an employer to take you on (usually around September for new intakes with interviews going on right now, but obviously firms may be flexible).

You could also consider carrying on your current job and studying ACCA (or AAT, but as an AAT teacher I would advise just going straight into ACCA if you're comfortable with numbers) in your own time to get part qualified before switching to practice to gain invaluable experience.

The benefit of the above meaning that you may could continue earning your current salary (if substantial enough) for a little while, and test the waters before jumping in.

The downside being that you will have an extremely tough schedule of working full time, while having a lot of study hours to maintain. This would impact a parent of children considerably.

If your goal is to work practice/self-employed, I doubt CIMA would be the correct qualification for yourself as it has slightly tailored towards management accounting for industry positions.

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By Evie83
20th Feb 2018 19:34

Thank you, everyone, for your replies and for suggesting that it's not too late to get a qualification like ACA or ACCA.
I'm probably going to start studies in my own time to at least become partially qualified: that was never a problem for me in the past. From what I've been reading, it appears like at the beginning this type of work might not be paid too well, so I think I might start trying to get a part-time job with one of the practices, while continuing at my current job, if both allow that, of course. At least it's a relief to know that I'm not too old...

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By sussieads
23rd Feb 2018 12:27

Hi, you're definitely not too old! I'm 51, and currently half way through my ACCA. I qualified with AAT in 2010 - doing a part time course round part time work (which I got on the back of doing my training) I now work as a practice manager for a very family friendly firm of accountants, and couldn't be happier! Yes it is hard work training around work and kids, but very rewarding!

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By carolelmcarre
23rd Feb 2018 16:10

As someone who is significantly older than most of your other respondents, I went back to college at 30, did A levels and a degree, joining a firm of chartered accountants at 35, and completing my training contract having passed all the exams at 38. I am now coming up to 67 and have not been unemployed since then, having and continuing to enjoy a varied career in a number of sectors including running my own small practice. Yes, the pay whilst training was low, and the time required for study for the two and half years of exams difficult to manage whilst raising a child, but as a career it is simply the best, offering a step into many other fields in addition to accountancy. If you have the stamina and determination, just go for it.

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By Evie83
25th Feb 2018 08:33

Thank you so much. It is wonderful to hear from others who completed their accounting qualification in their 30s.
I'm just glad to know that it's possible to find a training contract to get the required hours for either ACA or ACCA even if you are older than a standard high-school graduate: I've done my A levels and a degree back then; but I'd like to give my career a new direction with the qualification now.
I don't mind a drop in salary for some time, as long as it's for the right reason, though I might consider doing a combination of a part-time training contract, while doing my studies, and part-time other work just to supplement my income a bit.
Wishing everyone a great weekend and a productive week.
Evgenia Lunina

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By John Charman
03rd Mar 2018 19:49

100% not too old.

All as I'd say is that at the age of 30 I'm married and am a father (and have a family to support on my wage). I don't think
I'd have been able to complete a full qualification with this distraction lower income.

That's only for me personally though. Others out there might be different.

Completing one of the top qualifications remains one of my proudest moments to date. So definitely don't let age stop you.

Best of luck.


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