Share this content

Which qualifications?

Best route in to an accountancy career for a career changer

Didn't find your answer?

Hello,

First of all an apology as I realise this question seems to be asked a lot in different forms, but things seem to change quickly and depend on circumstances and the more I read the more confusing I seem to find it. So I'm going to ask it again.

I'm looking to get into an accountancy career and really need some advice on which is the most appropriate qualification to start first.

I realise different employers have different preferences but after speaking to a fair few local (north east England if it's relevant) employers it seems to be the general consensus that having some form of qualification would make it much more attractive to their companies. However there doesn't seem to be a clear view on which one is best.

My background: I did an Economics degree with a lot of maths in it, so numeracy isn't a problem. I then had a sales career for about 15 years, culminating in a spell as a partner in a small start up business. While doing this I did some of the book keeping and financial management as well as monitoring the numbers more generally, which is what gave me a taste for this work.  

I'm steering away from CIMA as while I find that side quite interesting I'm quite keen to get a broader taste for the whole field before specialising in one narrow area. Likewise for tax.

I have a slight preference for practice rather than industry, at least to start off with, as I think this gives you a broader range of experiences.

I know employers can't ask, but I'm 40 so not a fresh faced graduate but I probably have near enough 30 years of work left to go so I'm hoping it isn't too late to switch.

Would really appreciate the input of people in the industry as to what qualifications they would recommend and why.

 

Thanks in advance

Replies (9)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By memyself-eye
07th Nov 2018 13:38

Try AAT - you might get an exemption from the first level if you have knowledge of the basics, thereafter, two years to qualify. You could then go on to 'chartered' status (or a specialism) if you wanted to with another accounting body.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By andy.partridge
07th Nov 2018 14:04

Agree, explore AAT. It will quickly inform you of what aptitude you have, it's a 'junior' qualification in itself and will prepare you and provide exemptions for the 'senior' institutes.

Thanks (0)
Routemaster image
By tom123
07th Nov 2018 16:06

It is never too late - out of interest, what is it about CIMA that you don't like the look of?

Of course, if you intend just to work in practice then others probably suit more.

Thanks (0)
Routemaster image
By tom123
07th Nov 2018 16:06

It is never too late - out of interest, what is it about CIMA that you don't like the look of?

Of course, if you intend just to work in practice then others probably suit more.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Gone Sailing
07th Nov 2018 20:01

OK, I'll throw this in ......
Computers are doing the heavy lifting for accounting these days, especially presentation. And notwithstanding that clients do not find bookkeeping and accounting easy at first, most can be guided if checked regularly.
Computers aside, the nitty gritty of accounting takes several years for the brain to acclimatise, some of us started with calculators and still get stuck. So how long have you set aside for learning?
However, the nuances of tax are endless, beyond anything any one person will ever know, and the tax universe is expanding. Maybe find a niche there?
Of course, if the big firms catch your eye, brace yourself for auditing.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By BookofNumbers
07th Nov 2018 20:21

Thank you for your responses. AAT seems a clear favourite.

CIMA - I do find it interesting but I feel it's relatively narrow, and being focused on management accounting seems to limit you to big companies. I don't see myself as especially well suited to that environment and at 40 with little to no experience I don't think I am that saleable in the market either.

Similar for tax. Plenty to do there but if I find after a couple of years that I don't like it then I'm stuck.

It seems with going for chartered status that you still have the opportunity to specialise if I find I really enjoy or have a particular aptitude for one aspect.

Another consideration is that living in a fairly rural place my options are more limited than if I lived in London or another big city. Most accountancy firms around here are SME focused and even the few companies that have a finance department probably don't have a large FP&A team or a tax department.

I could do a fairly long commute into Newcastle, and it may well be necessary to do this for a few years to start with but it would be good longer term to have the option of working locally.

This is based on the advice I've had and my own observations so far.

Feel free to tell me I'm wrong on all my assumptions!

Thanks (0)
By Moonbeam
08th Nov 2018 08:40

Do AAT - you'll whip through that, but it will give you basic stuff. And I think you'll find it easier to get into commerce, with the skills you already have. It's hard to get a decent salary in the practice world at this level compared to commerce.
If you get some good experience in commerce that will help you qualify and you can have a rethink at that point.

Thanks (0)
Me
By John Charman
08th Nov 2018 22:12

Another vote for AAT here. You can do it in 18 months - 2 years.

It covers absolutely everything at lower level and by the end of it you should know which direction you want to go in.

Best of luck

Thanks (0)
avatar
By BookofNumbers
12th Nov 2018 18:39

Great, thanks for all the responses.
I'm looking at AAT now.
Front runner seemed to the Foundation Level Accounting via Kaplan distance learning but then I came across this company

http://accountancylearning.co.uk

Who seem to be offering the whole level for £329 (basic, so only study materials) compared with about 3 times that from Kaplan.

Without wanting to sound too full of myself I'm fairly motivated and having looked at some of the past papers I suspect it's mostly stuff I could learn from a book.

So it got me thinking a) am I reading this wrong? b) if not, is Kaplan worth the extra, and I must admit c) are any of the courses worth it as opposed to self study and doing the exams direct?

Appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks (0)
Share this content