Home > Finance & Management > How to Work in Accountancy

How to Work in Accountancy

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 24 Feb 2014 | comments*Discuss
 
Training Accountancy Working Accountancy

If you have a head for numbers, you're organised and good at time-management, as well as a team player and an adept problem-solver, the chances are that you'll make an excellent accountant. There are many opportunities to work in different areas of accountancy, which are open to people of all ages and backgrounds.

In recent years, the role of an accountant has changed somewhat, as many accountants now also work in a business advisory and development capacity, and undertake aspects of business and financial management and consultancy.

Where to Start?

The road to becoming a fully qualified and employable accountant is a fairly long one, and requires a lot of time and dedication. If you are already working, you should be aware that you'd need to take a succession of up to 14 professional exams (although in some cases you may be exempt from around 9 of these), as well as a period of practical training. This can last up to three years in total. In addition to this, you'll also need to undertake something known as continuing professional development (CPD).

There are also different types of accountancy work that cover various aspects of finance and business management. Some qualified accountants work in private practices, supplying private sector clients and members of the public with accountancy and tax advice and financial services. Some accountants, however, will work within a particular organisation in a specific sector, such as commerce or the public sector, and work within more of a business and financial management role.

Qualifications

To start training as an accountant, you don't necessarily have to have a degree, but it does help with training, especially if the degree is in the area of maths or financial studies. You will definitely need to have at least two A-Levels and three good passes in GCSE (or equivalent), maths and English. You can gain accountancy qualifications from different organisational bodies in the UK. These include the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

You should also be aware that if you wish to work as an auditor, you will have to undertake training and gain a qualification from a Recognised Qualifying Body (RQB) such as those mentioned above, as well as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). You can gain a BSc in Applied Accounting degree when studying with ACCA without attending university.

In most cases, your employer will foot the bill for your Practical Training, and you may even receive a fair and modest income to boot if you assist in the office with additional duties such as administration.

Working in Accountancy

Unless working in a small-scale private practice or organisation, as a qualified accountant you may find yourself working for one of the 'Big Four' – KPMG, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) or Ernst & Young. These are the most prolific and well known of all accountancy firms, and they provide some of the biggest corporations in Britain and the EU with accountancy, financial and business services. These firms deal with a multitude of business and financial aspects, such as tax issues, helping ailing businesses to recover, auditing services as well as 'forensic accounting'.

The Big Four also seek to train their employees in specialised areas of financial management, analysis and accountancy, and will positively encourage training on the job. They are all well respected and regarded as excellent employers, and if you are lucky enough to land a job with any of these firms, your Career Development prospects should be promising.

It is still perfectly acceptable and respectable to work within smaller organisations and practices, which will most likely also support you in further training and specialisms. The likelihood is that in both scenarios, at some points you will have to undertake heavy workloads and long hours of work, often in stressful situations. The industry is slowly Recognising The Stress associated with working as an accountant, with many employers bringing in flexible working hours to assist with a Better Life-Work-Family Balance.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hi Lucy, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. It was at once free of any double-de-gook. It very factual and informative with the right information and references for further development. Thank you for your invaluable contribution. Regards, Edward
Silady - 24-Feb-14 @ 8:52 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kat gale
    Re: Becoming a Paramedic
    I need pinging in the right direction I want a new career change at 48 but don’t no where to start please help
    10 June 2020
  • Pat
    Re: Becoming a Painter and Decorator
    I am looking for a career change. I've done a fare bit of decorating work and want to work for myself any advice would be…
    4 June 2020
  • nita
    Re: Becoming a Mechanic
    I'm 40 I failed myatric I'm working in motor industry I want to do motor mechanics but I'm not sho if there is any chance for me
    1 June 2020
  • Barkerelli
    Re: Becoming a Social Worker
    Hello. I have worked in Adult Social Carr all my adult life after studying Social Policy at university. For the last 12 years I have…
    31 May 2020
  • Ron
    Re: Where to Get Help With Funding a Career Change
    Hi I am looking to move away from IT (engineering programming) and looking to move into Procurement / FMCG…
    22 May 2020
  • Ola
    Re: Jobs You Didn't Know Existed
    I have 19 years experiience working in a secondary school as a teacher now looking to go into social work . Not really sure how I…
    20 April 2020
  • rachet
    Re: Working with Animals
    I am working in the NHS and I have been thinking about a change and I really think I would love to work with animals. I am a country girl but…
    8 April 2020
  • Chrissie
    Re: Working with Animals
    Hi , Im 38 and so bored in my current office job. Ive always wanted to work with animals but life got in the way and ive ended up stuck…
    17 February 2020
  • Pogelswood
    Re: Becoming a Teacher or Teaching Assistant
    I have a degree, BAhons in early years teaching and am looking at becoming a TA. Do I need to undergo any further…
    14 January 2020
  • alihon
    Re: Becoming a Mechanic
    I work in an FE college and I would like to highlight the fact that the advice given here is not correct. There are very few colleges which…
    7 January 2020