Starting out in accountancy: What are my options?

RChernin
Finance and Accounting
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While many AccountingWEB members are seasoned veterans, some from the student contingent may find starting out daunting, not knowing which direction they should take the budding accounting career.

There are a variety of specialisms in accounting, and even more roles within them. So how does someone starting out  know which one to go for? 

Generally, the four accounting specialisms are:

  • Financial accounting
  • Management accounting
  • Internal auditing
  • Group accounting

Within these four specialisms there are numerous roles requiring different levels of experience, industry knowledge, and skills. If you’re not sure about which role would suit you, the best thing to do is conduct some research into different opportunities in accounting and even look into some job descriptions to see if they match what you expect. One thing is certain regardless of what specialism you choose, though, and that is your progression opportunities.

Climbing the career ladder

You will need to complete professional qualifications at different stages in your career to keep up-to-date with the latest industry requirements. These could include qualifications from one or more of the following accounting bodies:

  1. Professional (Level 4) AAT Accounting
  2. ACCA
  3. CIMA
  4. CIPFA
  5. ICAEW
  6. ICAS

How it works in financial accounting

A typical career path for someone in financial accounting could be:

  1. Accounts assistant holding A-C Grades in GCSE Maths and English and completing on the job training to work towards an AAT Qualification.
  2. Junior financial accountant with a foundation diploma in accounting and working towards further professional qualifications.
  3. Senior financial accountant with a professional qualification in accountancy, possibly working towards Chartered status.
  4. Assistant financial accountant responsible for maintaining records of invoices, payments and transactions. Often working towards a chartered status.
  5. Financial controller overseeing all of the day-to-day operations in the finance department of a company. Generally chartered at this stage and with a wealth of experience within the financial accounting industry.
  6. CFO (Chief Finance Officer) overseeing all financial activities and operations for a company. Ranging from day-to-day analysis to becoming a strategic partner for the business.

Skills needed

You will need a range of skills including:

  1. General business and industry knowledge
  2. Numeracy and IT skills
  3. Logic and analytical skills
  4. Communication and leadership skills
  5. Integrity and discretion

Once you know which role would suit you and what level you need to enter the profession as, you can look into different agencies and their recruitment offerings to help secure your first position.

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01st Jun 2017 09:25

Very good article, however perhaps "direction" may have been the wrong word. I think "direction" can only come when you have a grounding. To me this only comes by working in a medium sized practice, undergoing the basic training (not from manuals). Then you can decide if you want to be a "number cruncher" (nothing wrong with that) or an Accountant.

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By paddy55
03rd Jun 2017 07:05

A person beginning a public accountant'/s office would be very surprised by your cagorisation of accounting jobs "Generally, the four accounting specialisms are:

Financial accounting
Management accounting
Internal auditing
Group accounting"

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