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Become an Accountant

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What You Need to Know

  1. Contrary to it’s established image, accountancy can offer young people an extremely vibrant career.
  2. If you are looking to get into accountancy as a graduate, pick either maths or a similar numeracy based subject.
  3. If university isn’t for you, you can still gain qualifications by studying with the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
  4. Those in senior positions can earn up to £250,000.
  5. Accountants will normally either be employed directly by a business, or work for an accountancy firm that then takes contracts on the behalf of other companies.
  6. Aside form any earlier qualifications you will have obtained, you’ll need to pass at least 11 exams to become a fully qualified chartered accountant.
  7. Training whilst you work means you will be able to have your course paid for by your employer.

The grey image accountants have had for so many years looks set to become more colourful as accountancy attracts many bright young people regarding the trade as a sound and even exciting, career prospect.

There are a number of ways that you can become an accountant; by doing an accountancy or mathematics degree or, if you don’t have the necessary qualifications to go to university, you can also do a recognised course with the Institute of Chartered Accountants or the Association of Accounting Technicians and even study while you work.

Accountancy jobs

Rather than drab number crunchers, accountants are business experts, boasting a broad range of knowledge and skills while working in a demanding job. The most dynamic types tend to work as management accountants – or finance analysts, as they are also known.

Such positions can command hefty salaries of up to £250,000 a year. However, as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants admits, it is not a job that will suit everyone. There are many aspects of the job that are extremely complex and sometimes hold a great deal of responsibility, as the in-house accountant helps a company manage its finances.

This is, however, only one area of accounting. Many jobbing accountants work for chartered – or certified – firms or for themselves, taking contracts to assist businesses and organisations of all sizes in a wide range of finance issues, such as keeping books in order – known as auditing – calculating tax bills, planning budgets, mergers, takeovers and acquisitions.

While this may sometimes lack the dynamism of financial analysis, it can provide a very steady and secure career with decent pay, flexible hours and good prospects of advancement. It can also lead to high-level management positions and sought-after consultancy roles.

Accountancy qualifications

You don’t have to be a graduate to become an accountant, though a degree is preferable. The vast majority of those taking the broad-based ACA (Associated Chartered Accountant) exam – the UK’s best-recognised accountancy qualification – were graduates. ACA entry level requirements include two A-levels and three GCSEs, including good grades in maths and English.

However, an increasing number of organisations are willing to take on school leavers who fulfil the necessary criteria, and who are then trained in-house or by an outside agency.

There are more than 2,000 organisations providing authorised training in the UK. The size or influence of the accountancy firm that trains you is irrelevant; the final qualification is the same. Nearly 40 per cent of trainees work for a business with 20 or fewer partners.

Home Learning College have a range of courses will develop your knowledge and help you gain recognised qualifications. Accredited courses are available at levels 1 to 4 from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)..

Training takes a minimum of three years and requires that you complete 450 days of technical work experience and pass both examination stages – with 11 exams in total.

If you're training as you work, your employer will pay for your course, as well as providing a modest salary for which you will be expected to help in the office in a variety of areas, including general admin.

For more information visit the Institute of Chartered Accountants website.

If you have found this article helpful then please have a look at UK Net Guide’s site job centre, we hope there are lots of jobs that you can find in lots of areas. After you have performed a search click on any jobs advertiser’s logos, this should tell you more about the employment offer.

Further Reading

  1. No matter how qualified you are as an accountant, you'll still need a great resume. Read our guide to writing a CV.
  2. Want to do a degree relevant to accountancy but fear it's too late? Read our guide to becoming a mature student.
  3. If you require the services of an accountant read our guide to choosing an accountant.
33 comments - Want to comment on this article? Click here
Shaza Shaza

I have a university degree in accountancy, 5years ago . I was studying in Jordan I would like to work as an accountant in uk .could you please advice me what can I do to get job in uk . And what type of course may I need to get job as an accountant . Thank you

dhiraj agarwal dhiraj agarwal

can i do ca training from uk
right now i m doing ca from india

Isobel Isobel

Hi I'm in y7 and would like to be a accountant, I am moving to America when I'm older and I don't know what to do for my options and don't know what gcse's I need to get!! Will I be alright with my degree going over to America????????????

paulina paulina

I am in year 13 doing my A levels ( maths, further maths, business and finance ) . Could someone help and and tell me whether or not I would be able to become an accountant once I will do a business degree?

me me

accounts is boring life, study science , dna or cosmology, universe, evolution, stars,chemistry be best and have fascinating life not boring clients and suit. do well

Emma Emma

I'm a 30 year old Mum of 3 who left school to join the mil with min quals, my children are now at an easier age and I'm thinking of beginning the accountancy course.
Do I need to be in a workplace to do the course and where do you recommend I start? Also, do you think the hours are manageable for a busy Mum of 3?
I am really eager and have a passion for numbers but I don't want to bite of more than I can chew??
Thankyou for your time,

ioana tamasan ioana tamasan

I from Romania and i want to work in uk like accountant. I have experience in Romania like accountant . Please tell me if i can work in uk without anythig less?

Victoria Colquhoun Victoria Colquhoun

Dear all,
If you want to study to be a chartered accountant (ICAEW) - you'll need to go work in practice - ie - for an accountancy firm. If you want to study certified (ACCA) or management accounts (CIMA) you can go work in a business that isn't an accountancy practice.
A really good stepping stone to taking your professional exams is to take the AAT exams first, if you have no or little accountancy experience - which start you at the basic level of accountancy, and will give you the skills to build on later, with the professional exams. If you are studying the professional exams, as well as working full time - expect to study 20+ hours a week (I've just finished my exams, and have now qualified) - you will also need to have gained a certain amount of time (3years for ACCA) in a relevant job role, and get a detailed work diary signed off by a business mentor (a qualified accountant) Your really have to want to pass these exams, as they're not an easy option, and require real dedication. Have a look at the ACCA, AAT and CIMA websites. Employers want staff who can actually do a job, not who have a qualification just saying so, so learn from the bottom up. I really don't know why this website keeps pushing for the ICAEW - which you can't even study unless you're working in practice.

Kushagra Kushagra


I am currently doing my A-Levels. I wish to be an accountant by taking the route from A-Levels, not University. For an ACA qualification, what grades will I need? Obviously, it's depending on the company you join in. But say if I wanted to join a firm such as Ernst and Young, what GCSEs and A Levels will I require?

So far as of the end of my AS year, I have got in GCSEs:

A and B in Eng. Literature and Language respectively
A and B in Two Sciences
B in Maths
B in Business Studies
A* in History

And in AS I expect myself to get:

B / C in History (which I may drop in A2)
B in Economics
B / A in Maths
B / A in Business

I have also had over two months worth of work experience in 4 different firms.

Will there be anything else I need? So far the AS exams have been rather difficult and I am unsure of the grades I will get.

Thank you very much.

Hannah Hannah

I got a 2:2 in Psychology but want to become and accountant now. how can I do this whats the best way to do it, everyone says I need a 2:1. Can you help?? Thanks

Need for help Need for help

Dear all
I have read through this very interesant article and comments.
I have a question that you might help me with.
There's a job offer in my company for the position as senior accountant, I have been in the company for 8 years, and consider that I have a broad expeience in many areas. BUT I am not an accountant (I went to the university where I studied engineering, but I never finished due to relocation to another country).
The feedback inside my organization is very good, and both supervisors and colleagues have told me that they have no doubt that I will do a good job and that I should apply.
How would you see me imn this position? Would I need to study? or can I get the experience just by working?
Any comment is highly appreciated

Joyce Asante Joyce Asante


Thank you so much for your article!

I am based in Ghana.

I do not have any diploma or certificate. However, I do have some work experience.

I would love to become a professional accountant, without going to university.

Can I still get a training to become a Chartered Accountant?

Please confirm that it isn't necessary to first get a GCSE or an equivalent ( e.g GED) ?

Do you have the list of the organisations providing authorised training in the U.K?
Is the training only for UK and European members?

Thank you.


Joyce A.

Hiramalik Hiramalik

i am in year 11 student if i want to become charted accountant if i will do BETC diplome in business is this help full for me.
can you expain me or i have to do A level
please inform me about this
thank you

moin patel moin patel

i am in year 8 and i need too no what to pick for my options to become an accountant please help me !!

Traci Traci

Hi. I'm in Year 11 and have to make my A level choices now. I am thinking to go for Math, Economics, Accounting. Are these three A levels sufficient for me to pursue a BSc (Accounting and Finance) degree in the future? Thanks.

Darren Darren

Hi, my name is Darren.
I am 24 years of age, I have always had a love for numbers and want to persue a career in accountancy. How would I go about doing this? I do not have a degree but have 3 a levels and 7 gcse's a-c including maths and English. Could you please help me with my next steps. Thank you.

Natalie Natalie

Hi, im 28 and have worked at the same company for 11 years i have decent GCSE results, i have recently taken on the accounts departament solely all my knowledge is from experience. I have a young daughter and now feel ready to kick start my career again an get the qualifications needed to become a qualificed accountant so i can earn to my potential. My question is am I too late? And would i get on the job training?

rehan rehan

hello im a pakistani student..doing a levels (accounts,economicsand business study...and i like to be an accounting in what sould i do please guide me? and are these subjects enough for me?\

Est Est

I've got a C in Maths&English in GCSE and I'm studying business and accounts at A Level, could I become an accountant with these qualifications or not?

jamster04 jamster04

i got a D in english C in maths Foundation and i don't know what i got for ICT but i'm hoping for a Merit which is equivalent to a B can i do Acountantcy?

Csaba Szeredai Csaba Szeredai

I have a university degree in accountancy, but I was studying in Romania. I would like to work as an accountant in U.K.
Do you think I have chances to work as an accountant in U.K. or I have to study here?
What I have to do to start as soon as possible the work?
Many thanks,
Csaba Szeredai

Samira Samira

hello,in my igcse i took science sub plus english and math and currently for my a levels i take math chem and physic and i opt 2 become a chattered accountant.So is it going 2 be a problem for me as im taking science subjects while pursuing 2 further study in accounting?

omer sarwar omer sarwar

hello i am a Pakistani e student and have done F. SC intermediate in pre-engineering and wanted to be a ACA of UK . am i eligible for it or not. can u plz send me some UK institutes links and fee structures plz .

Rachael Rachael

Hi, my partner has a masters degree in sport and exercise, he qualified in 2006 and is interested in becoming an accountant . I know this is probably not the usual path for an accountant to take and was wondering if he can still get into accountancy with the degree he has? If so what would be his next step? How long would it take him with his existing qualification? he is currently employed within a family business.

Iona Iona

Hi, I'm currently studying 3 a levels (including Maths), I would prefer to become an account through an apprenticeship, any tips? Thank you

Tahmeed Chaudhury Tahmeed Chaudhury

Hello, I'm an A level student in Bangladesh. I have 2 A level subjects currently (Mathematics and Physics). I want to study Chartered Accountancy in the UK. Should I go for earning a degree from a university first or should I just go for studying CA? I'm really confused about what to do and a little help would do me a world of good. Thank You

David David


I've just completed a science degree as a mature student, and got a 2:2 so graduate schemes are not open to me. I didn't have A-levels, did a foundation year, so have no UCAS points.

I worked in insurance for nearly 10 years before returning to education, so have a lot of relevant experience.

What's the best way for me to become an accountant?

Thanks, David

UK Net Guide UK Net Guide

Hi Jamie, If you have decent GCSE and A level grades you don't need a degree. You'll need to pass the ACA exam to become a qualified accountant. You can study for this whilst at a company that has taken you on as a trainee, or you can obtain it through an outside agency. Best, UK Net Guide

jamie jamie

Hi I am currently a teacher I received a b'ed Hons in primary education and currently specialise in maths however didn't do my degree in it. What route would I need to take to make the transition and to gain the necessary qualifications?! How would I do this?! Would it take long. Many thanks

UK Net Guide UK Net Guide

Hi Jessica,

Employers who you'd train with would be fine with the fact that you gained your degree in America as long as it's in a numeracy based subject and your grade was the equivalent of what we in the UK call a 2:1, which in America would roughly be 3.3 GPA or better.

jessica jessica

I am living in america and wanting to move to the uk. I am studying accounting in america, am i going to be able to use my degree from america in the uk? Thank you Jessica

UK Net Guide UK Net Guide

Hi Federico, Your next step should probably be to gain the ACA qualification. You can find more from the Institute of Chartered Accountants site. Kind Regards, UK Net Guide

Federico Labò Federico Labò

Hello, I'm an italian student from university of Pavia.
I had my first three-year degree in business administration and now I'm finishing a two-year specialization in international business and economics.
I want to be an accountant in England and I'd like to know exactly what I have to do.
Can you help me?
Thank you.
Regards, Federico.


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