Becoming an accountant: formal education and qualifications are key. Of course we’re stereotyping the ‘boring accountant’ and only mentioning it in jest. This reflects the perception of others who are not in the accountancy profession, whereas numbers are exciting and can tell us so much information so in actual fact it’s up to you during your accountancy career to show to others that it is anything but boring. Keep on reading to find out what your path is to becoming an accountant!
What does an accountant do?
An Accountant’s main role is to prepare a business’ accounts, which can then be used to give an overview of their financial status. By tracking all of a company’s financial transactions, any irregularities or risks can be reported, and the business can plan better moving forward.
The role of an Accountant (which differs from industry to industry) usually includes the following:
- Tracking and examining company income and expenditure
- Running payroll, and conducting audits
- Identifying and investigating financial risks or irregularities (including losses or suspected fraud)
- Giving advice on budgeting and making recommendations on how to increase profit
- Calculating tax owed and filing tax returns
In two words; ‘numerical ability’. Having a passion for mathematics and a close attention to detail will go a long way. As you start working as an accountant you will find that it helps to be able to work well under pressure especially when financial deadlines are looming. Other key skills and attributes include:
- Excellent analytical skills
- Financial acumen
- Good organisational skills
- A natural flair for problem solving
- An excellent understanding of accounting principles
The path to becoming an accountant
There are two ways to become an accountant, either through training or through an Accountancy university degree.
If you didn’t go or don’t plan to go to university and do a degree in Accountancy then here’s what you need to do via the training route. Many aspiring accountants take their first steps with the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians). There are no entry requirements with AAT and you don’t need any relevant work experience. The full AAT qualification is made up of three levels, each containing a different number of compulsory units:
- AAT Level 2
- AAT Level 3
- AAT Level 4
Many course providers offers a range of ways to study AAT depending on your flexibility.
Tuition fees range from £600 – £2,000 for each unit. Depending on training provider this may also include study materials, assessment fees.
It typically takes between 6-12 months to complete each level. Overall it would take around 3 years to finish studying AAT. You can sit each paper one at a time when you’re ready. Most learners take between six and twelve months to complete each level. You could complete the whole AAT qualification in as little eighteen months studying at a fast pace. However, usually it takes around three years all in.
Essential Study Books
AAT Processing Bookkeeping Transactions Buy Now
AAT Control Accounts, Journals & The Banking System Buy Now
AAT Basic Costing Buy Now
AAT Computerised Accounting Buy Now
AAT Work Effectively in Accounting & Finance Buy Now
Becoming a Chartered Accountant
Accountant £18,000 – £100,000
Financial Manager £24,000 – £80,000
Finance Director £17,000 – £100,000
*The above salary figures are averages, per annum and a rough guideline as salaries will differ by geographic location and industry.