Accounting is a profession that provides exceptional room for progression, specialisation and high earning potential. And if you choose to be self-employed, a flexible career that fits around family life.
Professional exams are the gateway to becoming a qualified accountant. But whether it’s worth it to study accounting depends on how far you want your career to progress.
You could work in the field of accountancy quite comfortably without studying to become a qualified accountant. There are many support roles that finance managers and accountants depend on to ensure the smooth running of their business.
Accounting assistants, for instance, handle a range of accounting related tasks. Such as raising, sending and paying invoices, reconciling company accounts and providing the information needed for accountants to prepare accounts.
Allowing you to earn your living in the financial industry, without the need for university loans or professional exams. However, you will be limited in your responsibilities and earning potential without further study.
To take on more complex work, earn a higher wage and progress into specialised roles, you’ll need to study accounting. Keep reading to find out the main benefits of studying and the routes you can take to get qualified.
The benefits of accounting qualifications
Accountants are responsible for ensuring companies operate in accordance with financial law. As well as keeping their financial records organised, so they can make decisions based on accurate data. To do this, you need to pass certain exams that prove you have the skills to do the job.
Evidence your Learning
Having your degree or vocational qualifications listed on your CV proves you’ve devoted your time to learning best practice accounting. Obtaining the higher level qualifications also enables you to apply for membership to professional bodies. Doing so allows you to use certain titles and designatory letters after your name like MAAT or AAPA. Which recognises you as an educated, qualified accountant who operates within certain ethical guidelines and undertakes continuing professional development.
Impress Hiring Managers
By studying accounting and gaining qualifications, your education has been dedicated to accounting principles and theory from day one.
It is possible to move into accounting after studying an unrelated degree. So long as you study and pass the professional exams. But hiring people without accounting knowledge comes at a cost for hiring managers. It will take time for these candidates to gain the required skills and qualifications to practice professionally.
Whereas, with accounting qualifications, you’re already positioned to be an effective employee from the minute you’re hired. So, choosing to study accounting puts you ahead of the rest in a competitive job market.
Find your Niche
People don’t often realise it, but accounting is a profession that allows you to explore additional interests and skills. There are many areas of specialisation that you can move into depending on your strengths and the type of work you enjoy.
If you’re inquisitive and find investigating criminal activity appealing, you could move into forensic accounting. You could combine your passion for ethical practice by working in assurance, safeguarding the investments of shareholders.
Perhaps you’re interested in the legal system and how it’s used in tax. Or apply your research and investigation skills to add value to businesses in corporate finance.
Earn a Higher Wage
In supporting roles, you can expect to earn anywhere between £16,000-£24,000 a year depending on your role and location. Which, depending on your living expenses and dependants etc. may or may not be enough to fund your lifestyle.
Qualified accountants in the UK earn on average £50,000 per year and chartered accountants can earn between £60,000 and £90,000+ with experience.
If you pursue director, partner or similar senior roles after this, you could earn anything up to £200,000 a year. So, choosing to study accounting is clearly a good investment of your time.
How should I study?
There are various routes you can take to gain accounting qualifications and become a professional accountant. The one you choose will likely depend on the time you want to invest and your preferred style of learning.
On the job training
You can secure an entry level role in an accounting firm such as a Trainee Accounts Clerk or Trainee Accounting Assistant. Gaining on the job experience while you study for your professional exams. This is a great option if you prefer a practical approach to learning.
Probably the fastest way to become an accountant is through industry-recognised vocational courses.
The AAT for instance, deliver internationally recognised qualifications through courses that provide industry-specific skills. Which they have been doing for over 35 years. Their quality is attested by the sponsorship they receive from professional accounting bodies like CIPFA, ICAEW, CIMA and ICAS.
They provide certificates and diplomas from beginner to advanced. Taking you from an introduction to accounting processes in level 2 to more advanced topics in levels 3 and 4. After which you become a fully qualified accountant. With the ability to study them online whenever suits, you can complete them quickly and move onto securing employment.
Allowing you to fast track your learning and break into the industry quickly.
Accounting apprenticeships are also another option to learn while you earn. They come in different levels depending on your experience and the role you’re aiming for.
Taking up to four years to complete while you work at least 30 hours a week. The higher level the apprenticeship, the higher equivalent qualification you gain. With advanced apprenticeships being equivalent to A Levels and higher level apprenticeships giving you the same as a foundation degree.
A university degree
Though not essential, a degree can help you land jobs in the more senior accounting firms. This academic route is great if you prefer to focus on learning accounting principles back-to-front before practising in the workplace. Degrees can run over 3-4 years and can make you exempt from certain professional exams.
Whichever route you take, choosing to study accounting can lead you into a prosperous career with excellent professional opportunities. If you’d like the option of requalifying without going back into full-time education, consider studying an AAT course online.
You’ll gain internationally recognised qualifications provided by The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). The UK’s leading qualification and membership body for vocational accountants who train over 80,000 accountants each year.
Study their courses online, from home, around your existing commitments. So you can gain the skills for a new career while still earning a wage. There are also flexible payment methods available to make your education more affordable, plus tutor support to assist your learning.