Becoming an accountant – the training you need

Few careers are so unfairly portrayed in popular media as accountancy, which has attracted a reputation for being boring. However, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, accountants report unusually high levels of job satisfaction, citing factors such as good pay and supportive bosses and also enjoying the work itself, which is much more varied than most people think. The other great thing about accountancy is that it’s something that you can get into at any stage in life, as long as you’re prepared to put in the work. Where should you start?

Basic qualifications

There are many different short courses out there that you can take to help you qualify as an accountant, but if you’re serious about getting into the profession and having good prospects, then the best option is to start with an AAT qualification and proceed to an ACCA, ACA or CIMA qualification, which will develop your skills across multiple areas. These LSBF videos provide useful insights into what’s available. A good professional qualification or degree will put you in a position to do all the kinds of work that most accounting agencies handle, improving your chances of being recruited and making your job more interesting.

Specialisation

After getting their initial qualifications, many people choose to specialise in a particular area. This doesn’t preclude doing other work, but it makes a strong selling point because it means that you’ll be able to take on some of the most complex tasks. It also means that ultimately, when you’ve acquired enough experience, you’ll have the option of moving into consultancy and potentially enjoying very high earnings. Specialties include bookkeeping, auditing and forensic accounting, to name but a few. You’ll usually need to take a specialist course in order to develop your skills in your chosen area, and sometimes this can take the form of a master’s degree.

In-role learning

Unlike most other professions, accountancy offers part-qualified positions, which means that after you have reached a certain stage in your studies, you can start work, even though you still have further learning to do. This means that you can start earning money and, importantly, start acquiring experience. Mentoring is available in many such roles and can be useful both in developing your skills and in helping you to network and improve your career prospects. In many cases, employers provide financial support to help their part-qualified employees to become fully fledged accountants.

Keeping up your skills

Accountancy is one of those professions in which the most successful people are those who manage to keep on learning throughout their careers. At the very least, it’s important to keep your professional IT skills up to date, as there are always new forms of accounting software coming on the market. You’ll also need to stay abreast of regulatory changes. This means that it’s common for accountants to take evening classes or correspondence courses at intervals throughout their working lives.

With lots of great opportunities out there for those who make the effort, studying accountancy is well worth your time, and it could be the start of a highly satisfying career.

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