Accounting and finance staff keep track of the money that comes in and goes out of a business. As an accountant, you could be preparing financial records to present for audit, overseeing tax and VAT submissions, and wages.
Many accountants work across a range of different industries, whilst others specialise in a particular sector.
How to become an accountant
There are several routes to becoming an accountant. You can gain the qualifications you need by doing a university or college course, or an apprenticeship.
If you already have relevant experience you may be able to apply directly to an employer or train on the job.
You should explore these routes to becoming an accountant to find out which is the right one for you. Whichever route you follow, you must have an interest and ability to deal with numbers.
You may need a (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.
University / graduate training scheme
You could complete a degree in accountancy, finance, economics or another relevant subject. You will need 3 A levels (or equivalent), including maths, to do an undergraduate degree.
Afterwards, you may be able to get a job on a company’s graduate trainee scheme.
College / training provider
You don’t need a degree to become an accountant or accounts assistant. Instead, you could complete a foundation certificate or an advanced or professional diploma through (AAT).
Courses take 6 - 18 months to complete.
You won’t need formal qualifications to do a foundation course. You may need GCSEs or A levels (or equivalent) for advanced and professional diplomas.
If you are aged between 16 and 24 you may be eligible for a traineeship. This is a short course (2 weeks - 6 months) which helps you to gain work experience in your chosen role.
An apprenticeship with an accountancy firm is a good way into the industry.
Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week.
Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.
An intermediate accountancy apprenticeship takes around two years to complete. For this, you will need GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths.
If you have relevant qualifications and experience you may be able to apply for a job directly and continue training part-time to become fully qualified.
You could do this with a professional accountancy body such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) or Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
Work experience is essential to gaining work within the industry. This could have been gained at school or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works in accountancy.
Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.
Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as an accounts assistant include :
What does an accountant do?
As an accountant, you will be responsible for managing finances and cash flow for the company. Duties may include using specialist software and understanding the requirements of the business you are working in.
The job role of an accountant involves the following duties :
What's it like to be an accountant?
How much could you earn as an accountant?
The expected salary for an accountant varies as you become more experienced.
Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. Salaries and career options improve with chartered status.