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Jobseeker Career Advice


If you have strong numeracy skills and are good at managing your money, a career in accountancy could be the choice for you. Contrary to common belief, accountancy is not dull and boring, but it is, in fact, one of the most rewarding careers with plenty of prospects, whether you work in the private or public sector. Not only can you train in business, practice or banking, but, once qualified, accountants can be found in high level roles all around the world. Primarily financial specialists, accountants can work across all areas of business and in a wide variety of fields. You could choose to work for a larger international accountancy firm such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, or a small local business such as a family-run farm shop.


So, what kind of skills and qualifications do you need to consider a career in accountancy? As a starting point, you need to be able to analyse, interpret and communicate accurate financial information, so proficiency in mathematics is essential. The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification is typically the minimum level expected of an accountant, but if you wish to become a chartered accountant, you’ll need to progress to the ACCA, ACA or CIMA qualifications. Although, these days, many accountants hold a university degree, it is not a prerequisite for the role, and first-hand experience is often deemed as desirable. That said, A-level maths and economics followed by an accountancy degree is likely to open up more doors for you. And if you have a definite type of accountancy job in mind, it is worth taking a look at the preferred qualifications of that specialism, as getting the right qualification will ensure you stand out from the crowd. 


What does a typical accountancy job entail? First and foremost, accountants deal with the day-to-day financial situation of a company or individual, pinpointing precisely where they are making and losing money. It is the accountant’s responsibility to know the economy, as well as having knowledge of the law. When speaking about choosing a specialism, accountants may decide to focus on management accounting or financial accounting – the former provides information to people within a company, while the latter provides information to those outside of it e.g. shareholders. Within each field, there are various other specialisms such as auditing, taxation, consulting, corporate finance and forensic accounting. Accountants who work hard can quickly progress to positions of responsibility within a company, attracting high salaries to boot! The role is also ideal for those looking to achieve a good work-life balance, with flexible part-time positions and career breaks sometimes possible.


If you are thinking about an accountancy career, the best advice would be to undergo some relevant accountancy work experience or even work-shadowing for a day to give you a feel for the job. An apprenticeship or work placement is another good way into the industry, with the added benefit of earning whilst you study. If you consider yourself to be academic, the university route is perhaps going to be the best option for you, with the possibility of doing some additional accountancy work on the side. But, for those who do not plan to undergo tertiary education, hands-on experience is definitely the way to go.   


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