How to Become an Accountant

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Do you love number crunching? Are you great at managing your own money? Do you offer financial advice to friends and family? Then a job in accountancy could be for you! Financial stability is one of the main ingredients for a successful business, and by helping a self-employed individual, a small business or a large corporate company manage their money the right way, you could revel in their success.

What do they do?

looking at numbers on ipad

In a nutshell, Accountants manage money for people and/or businesses, so they can keep track of their financial status. Accountants carry out detailed assessments of a company’s income and outgoings so they can offer budget advice and identify any financial risks or irregularities. They also calculate the amount of tax a company owes and file tax returns on their behalf, as well as making suggestions as to how the company could increase profit and raise their financial status.

People often choose to specialise in one of three different types of accountancy:

  • Tax accountancy – focusing only on advising businesses or self-employed individuals on completing their tax forms.
  • Management accountancy – focusing on the day-to-day finances for businesses. They constantly track and assess the company’s finances, offering recommendations for improvement and helping the company move towards success.
  • Financial accountancy – focusing on producing financial reports/statements that can be used by shareholders.

Accountancy is more than just a numbers game, it’s also about building relationships with clients who trust you to provide them with reliable, sound advice. The financial decisions they make based on your recommendations can have huge implications for their livelihood, and seeing a company grow and succeed under your guidance will be incredibly satisfying.

What skills do I need?

The right person will:

  • Love numbers – as you’ll be working with them day in, day out.
  • Have excellent numeracy skills.
  • Be good at managing money as this is a core part of the job.
  • Have an analytical mind, so that you’re able to compare financials reports and make future forecasts.
  • Have good communication skills, to communicate financial findings and advice to company’s or self-employed individuals in a clear manner.
  • Excellent attention to detail, as you’ll have to make sure all your calculations and assessments are correct before making any financial recommendations.
  • Be highly organised as you’ll have to work to tight deadlines.

What will I love about the job?

  • You’ll have the opportunity to specialise in an area of accountancy you’re most interested in.
  • The flexibility – it’s up to you whether you decide to work for yourself, a small business, or a large corporate company. If you work for yourself, you can set your own hours.
  • Working with numbers and precision.
  • Helping individuals or businesses make the most of their money.
  • The ongoing professional development – training in accountancy is ongoing and there are always new things to learn.

What are the challenges?

  • You may sometimes have to live with the fact that some clients will still make bad choices, even when you’ve given them good advice. But so long as you always give advice to the best of your ability, you can sleep well at night knowing that you’ve done all you can do, regardless of whether or not an individual or company take you up on it.
  • The study is never completely over as there are always new accountancy rules and requirements rolled out all the time, but this is great for people who enjoy challenging themselves to learn new things.

How much will I earn?

As a qualified Accountant, you’ll earn an estimated salary of between £35,000 and £45,000. But you could earn up to £100,000 if you progress into a Finance Manager or Finance Director role. Your earnings will also depend on whether you decide to go self-employed or work as an employee for a company.

Are there opportunities to progress?

Accountants sometimes progress into Finance Manager or Finance Director roles once they have built up sufficient skills and experience in their field. You can also choose to specialise in a specific area of accountancy e.g. tax or management.

How do I get started?

Talk to an Accountant

Before you embark on a new career as an Accountant, it might be worth speaking to one to find out exactly what they’re job is like day to day. Chances are that you, or someone you know has access to an Accountant who will be able to give you all the details and help you decide whether the role is the right fit for you.

Apply for a trainee job straight away…

If you decide that accountancy is for you, then the good news is that you don’t require a degree. Many employers will take strong candidates on as trainees even if they have no industry-specific qualifications.

So if you feel confident enough in your transferable skills and experience, then why not take the plunge and apply for a job as a Trainee Accountant straight away?

…or complete a qualification online to increase your employability

If you’d like the chance to build up some confidence in accountancy before putting yourself out there, you could consider completing an AAT qualification (Levels 2 and 3) – although you can take a Level 1 qualification if you want to, there’s no need as the basics will still be covered during the Level 2 part of the course. This can be completed online in your own time – and there are no entry requirements needed for enrolment on the course. ICS offers these AAT approved qualifications as a combined package – they’ll give you all the knowledge you need to get your accountancy career underway.

Level 2 units include:

  • Bookkeeping Transactions
  • Bookkeeping Controls
  • Elements of Costing
  • Using Accounting Software
  • Work Effectively in Finance

Level 3 units include:

  • Advanced Bookkeeping
  • Final Accounts Preparation
  • Management Accounting: Costing
  • Indirect Tax
  • Ethics for Accountants
  • Spreadsheets for Accounting
Did you find this page helpful? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at [email protected].

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