How to Become an Accountant

If you've got good numeracy skills, an analytical mind and an eye for detail there are a vast array of career opportunities available to you within the accountancy and finance sector. Here you will learn everything you need to get started in accounting. 

Accounting Skills

  • A passion for numbers
  • Analytical skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Good time management
  • Business acumen
  • Integrity

What Qualifications?

Getting the right qualifications is important as you start out on your career. Although many accountants hold a university degree it is not the only option and there are other pathways available to you. 

If you are just starting out on your career or are changing from a different profession, you may choose to start with an entry level qualification such as the AIA Certificate in Business Finance for Professionals which teaches the fundamentals of accounting and business finance and is an ideal way to get started. 

If you are certain about your career or are ready to move into a more senior position, you should consider a professional qualification that will give you the skills you need to take your career to the next level and qualify as an accountant.

How Long Does it Take to Qualify?

It takes approximately 3 to 4 years to qualify as an accountant depending on your previous knowledge, experience and other commitments. 

The AIA professional qualification comprises 9 exams on the accountancy route and 10 exams on the audit route with two exam sittings taking place each year.

Credits for prior learning are also available to those that have relevant qualifications which can reduce the amount of time is take to qualify. 

Types of Accountancy Work

Accountancy is the practice of recording, classifying, and reporting on business transactions for a business, providing feedback to management regarding the financial results and analysing the financial position of the business. 

You may work in industry for a single organisation or group of companies where you will be focused on the internal needs of that business or in practice where you will be part of a firm dealing with multiple clients. 

Management accounting involves preparing financial information for a company for internal use to make decision on budgeting, costs and future financial planning. 

Specialisms in Accounting

Audit
Auditors perform an independent check an organisations' financial records to make sure they are accurate by 
examining company accounts and financial control systems and assessing any financial risk. 

Insolvency
A licensed insolvency practitioner works with companies that are struggling financially, providing company directors with advice in pre-insolvency situations to try and rescue a business or, where that isn’t possible, manage the process of closing it down.

Tax
Tax advisers are specialists that deal with organisation’s or an individual’s tax liabilities. The work involves interpreting complex and changing tax legislation and assessing the tax implications of different business models and options. 

Forensic Accounting
A forensic accountant investigates financial discrepancies and inaccuracies such as fraud, financial negligence, misconduct and disputes.