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Accounting Technician

Accounting technicians collect, check and analyse financial information. Technicians' jobs vary between organisations, but their responsibilities may include some of the following:

  • maintaining and checking financial records
  • receiving and settling invoices from suppliers
  • monitoring company expenses
  • completing and submitting company tax returns
  • managing the staff payroll
  • recording receipts and payments
  • auditing (verifying an organisation's accounts)
  • controlling budgets
  • writing reports.

Technicians who work for a small company generally carry out a wide range of tasks. In a larger company, they are likely to specialise in a particular area, such as audit or tax.

Accounting technicians use computers for most of their work. They work with spreadsheets, databases and word processing software.

Accounting technicians usually work normal office hours, Monday to Friday. There are opportunities for part-time work and job sharing. Many organisations offer flexible working hours. Most technicians are office based, although they may spend some time visiting clients.

Salaries range from £14,000 to over £35,000 a year.

An accounting technician should:

  • be good with figures
  • be confident using computers
  • have good communication skills, both spoken and written
  • be able to research and analyse information
  • have an interest in finance
  • enjoy detailed, methodical work.

Accounting technicians are employed throughout the UK in a wide variety of organisations.

There are no set entry requirements, although employers may ask for some GCSEs (A*-C), including English and maths. The Diploma in business, administration and finance may be useful for this work.

Some people study accounting, finance or business to prepare for work as an accounting technician. Entry to this work is also possible through an Apprenticeship, Advanced Apprenticeship or Higher Apprenticeship in accounting.

On starting work, technicians are trained on the job by their employer. They may also study for an accounting technician qualification. The Association of Accounting Technicians and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants both offer technician qualifications.

In smaller organisations, experienced accounting technicians may take on considerable responsibility. They may work with senior managers, reporting on how the business is performing and suggesting how to improve profits and performance.

Technicians may be able to progress to positions such as finance director, financial controller or management accountant. They may become self-employed, providing accountancy services to small organisations. Many accounting technicians study further to become chartered accountants.

What is the work like?

Accounting technicians are responsible for collecting, checking and analysing financial information. Technicians' jobs vary according to the size and type of organisations that employ them, but their responsibilities may include some of the following:

  • maintaining and checking financial records
  • receiving and settling invoices from suppliers
  • monitoring company expenses
  • completing and submitting company tax returns
  • managing the staff payroll
  • recording receipts and payments
  • auditing (verifying an organisation's accounts)
  • controlling budgets
  • writing reports.

Technicians who work for a small company generally carry out a wide range of tasks. They may be the only employee trained and qualified to look after financial records, invoices and wages. In a larger company, they are likely to be part of a team that includes chartered accountants, other accounting technicians and general administrators. In this case they are likely to specialise in a particular area, such as audit or tax.

Accounting technicians use computers for most of their work. They work with spreadsheets, databases and word processing software. Increasingly, accounting technicians are also responsible for identifying how a company can improve its profits and reduce costs.

Hours and environment

Accounting technicians usually work normal office hours, Monday to Friday. They may have to work longer during busy times or to meet deadlines. There are opportunities for part-time work and job sharing. Many organisations offer flexible working hours.

Most technicians are office based, although they may spend some time visiting clients.

Smart dress is usually expected.

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • Starting salaries may be between £14,000 and £20,000 a year at a small company, and up to £22,000 at a larger organisation.
  • Qualified accounting technicians may earn between £16,000 and £25,000.
  • The more highly paid technicians may earn over £35,000.

Skills and personal qualities

An accounting technician should:

  • be good with figures
  • be confident using computers
  • have good communication skills, both spoken and written
  • be able to research and analyse information
  • have good organisational skills
  • be capable of working under pressure and meeting deadlines
  • be trustworthy, have tact and be discreet when handling confidential information
  • work well on their own and as part of a team
  • be accurate and attentive to detail
  • be good at solving problems.

Interests

It is important to:

  • have an interest in finance
  • enjoy detailed, methodical work.

Getting in

Accounting technicians are employed throughout the UK in a wide variety of organisations. These range from large multinational accountancy firms to small, local companies. Employers include:

  • commercial and industrial companies
  • accountancy practices
  • the Civil Service
  • local authorities
  • health authorities
  • electricity, gas and water companies
  • shops
  • hotels
  • charities and voluntary organisations.

Vacancies may be advertised in local and national newspapers, and in accountancy publications. They may also be advertised on the AAT jobs website (www.aat-jobs.co.uk) and the websites of specialist recruitment agencies.

Entry routes

There are no set entry requirements for this work, although employers may ask for some GCSEs (A*-C), including English and maths.

It is possible to study accounting, finance or business to prepare for work as an accounting technician. Useful courses include:

  • the Diploma in business, administration and finance
  • A levels in accounting and in business studies
  • BTEC Level 2 and 3 Certificates and Diplomas in business
  • BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate in business
  • BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in business.

Other qualifications that may be useful as a first step or which may be taken into account for entry to higher-level courses include:

  • City & Guilds Level 1 and 2 Awards in book-keeping and accounts
  • City & Guilds Level 3 Award in accounting and book-keeping
  • City & Guilds Level 1, 2, and 3 Awards in business finance
  • City & Guilds Level 1, 2 and 3 Awards in computerised accounts
  • IAB Level 3 Certificate in book-keeping.

Some people enter the career having first studied the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Accounting Qualification. There are two routes to the qualification - the NVQ pathway and the Diploma pathway. The NVQ route is suitable for people already working in a financial role. Each pathway has three levels. Completion of all three levels leads to the full AAT qualification. Many colleges and training centres offer courses leading to these qualifications. Study can be full time, part time or by distance learning.

It is also possible to prepare for entry to this work by studying for the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Qualification offered by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). The qualification has three levels - Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced. Again, study can be full time, part time or by distance learning.

Entry to this work is also possible through an Apprenticeship, Advanced Apprenticeship and Higher Apprenticeship in accounting.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer and, from August 2009, pay at least £95 per week. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available on the Apprenticeship page on this website, from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Training

Technicians can be trained on the job by their employer. They may also study for an accounting technician qualification. Many study for AAT qualifications, a three-stage route that leads to NVQ Levels 2, 3 and 4 in accounting. Study may be by distance learning or by part-time attendance at one of many centres throughout the UK. Technicians may also qualify through the AAT Diploma pathway.

Alternatively, technicians may study for ACCA's CAT Qualification. Students who have achieved the CAT Qualification, either before or after entry to accounting work, must have one year's supervised practical experience in the workplace to achieve full CAT status.

Getting on

In smaller organisations, experienced accounting technicians may take on considerable responsibility. They may work with senior managers, reporting on how the business is performing and suggesting how to improve profits and performance.

Technicians may be able to progress to positions such as finance director, financial controller or management accountant. An increasing number of technicians become self-employed, providing accountancy services to small organisations.

Many accounting technicians become chartered accountants. They do this by studying for the professional qualifications of one of the chartered accountancy bodies, which are:

  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

All the chartered bodies offer exemptions from sitting some of their professional exams to AAT-qualified students. Apart from CIPFA, they also offer exemptions to ACCA CAT-qualified students.

Some qualified accounting technicians go on to study for a degree in accounting or finance at college or university. An NVQ Level 3 in accounting is accepted by many universities and colleges for entry to such degrees. An NVQ Level 4 in accounting may allow an applicant to be admitted directly onto the second year of a degree course.

It may be possible for qualified technicians to work abroad, as their qualifications are recognised internationally.

Further information

Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), 140 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4HY. 0845 863 0802. Websites: www.aat.org.uk and www.aat.org.uk/yourbigfuture

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA Connect), 2 Central Quay, 89 Hydepark Street, Glasgow G3 8 HR. 0141 582 2000. Website: www.acca.co.uk

 Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

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