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Accountancy is a career which offers a graduate environment, variety, people contact, a professional qualification, high salaries and opportunities to work internationally. Many accountants use their qualification to move into general management or to set up their own business.
Finance and accounting is one of the most important parts of any organisation. How else does an organisation know if they’re making a profit, how much they have spent and how long they can continue in business?
Accountants work in all areas of business, plus the public and voluntary sector. Many work in firms of chartered or certified accountants (this is referred to as working in “private practice” or, confusingly, as “public practice”). Others are employed by banks, manufacturing companies, local authorities, charities, publishers, film companies, hospital trusts, insurance companies etc.
You do not have to have a degree in accountancy or any other specific subject to become an accountant, graduates in all subjects can and do become successful accountants. What you do need is a strong academic record, particularly at A-level.
There are several different professional bodies which regulate the training and work of accountants in the UK (see below) Entry requirements vary for each of the professional bodies you should check each one for their specific requirements, if you already have relevant accounting or business-related qualifications, you may be able to qualify in a shorter time, but, as a general rule, qualifying as an accountant will involve three years of study, exams and relevant employment. Training for professional exams is provided by employers. Early responsibility and fast promotion is available if your work and exam results are satisfactory.
The four main professional accountancy bodies are:
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (ICAS)
- Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
Trainees between £18,000 and £24,000 a year.
Qualified accountants £30,000 and £50,000 upwards.
Senior accountants can earn considerably more