You’ve joined AIA as a student, and you’re looking forward to achieving your professional qualification and getting ready to wow the accountancy world, but what have you actually signed up to do? What does it take to qualify as an International Accountant?
The purpose of this article is not to put you off, but to make sure that you’re aware of the commitment you’ve made, and ensure you get the maximum benefit from choosing to join the thousands of International Accountants around the world. Qualifying as a professional accountant is challenging, it’s not meant to be easy! But the rewards will be worth it.
You should at the very least, be aware that you need to sit some exams and therefore need to study, but is there more to it than that?
1. ENTER THE EXAMS AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY AND SIT THEM
You should be entering the exams at the earliest opportunity, we offer two exam sessions every year in May and November, and as soon as you register as a student you should enter the next available exam session. Make the most of the energy and enthusiasm you had when you signed up and give yourself a goal to work towards, otherwise how can you focus your mind on your studies?
Most of us have work and family to juggle as well, and it’s hard to find the time to do the things you enjoy, let alone read a book on accountancy. But if you know that you have that exam looming, you will make the time to study. Plus, let’s face it, if you don’t enter the exams, you’ll never pass. You’ve got to be ‘in it to win it!’
We provide lots of resources to help you study and to give you an idea of how much studying you should be doing, check out the Study section. If you don’t want the added stress of working it all out for yourself, our online study course Achieve can take some of the worry out of it for you, with personalised study planners and e-tutor support.
2. KEEP SITTING THE EXAMS AT EVERY SESSION UNTIL YOU FINISH THEM ALL
You’ve worked hard and you’ve sat the exams, now you can take a quick breather before you dive back in. Once the exam results are released, whether you’ve passed or you’ve failed, you should be entering the exams for the next session.
If you’ve failed, it’s like riding a bike, if you fall off, you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, get back on and give it another go. Don’t lose heart or your enthusiasm, failing is a part of life and it makes us stronger and wiser.
If you’ve passed, keep up your positive momentum, you’re one step closer to your goal.
3. GAIN WORK EXPERIENCE AND KEEP A RECORD OF IT
There’s more to qualifying as an International Accountant than sitting the exams, and you’re not fully qualified until you have also gained three years’ work experience, or what we call Initial Professional Development (IPD). The blog ‘4 Things you should know about IPD’ in the Resources Hub gives you a good overview of how you need to record your professional development and there are loads of resources in the IPD section to help you to do this.
You can gain your work experience before, during or after study for the exams, but if you can it’s a good idea to be working in accountancy while you’re studying as this will help you to apply what you’re learning in practice and should make it easier to grasp. It’s also easier to fill your IPD record in as you go along, rather than trying to remember what you did three years ago!
4. APPLY TO BECOME AN ASSOCIATE MEMBER
Once you’ve passed all of the exams and you have your three years’ IPD under your belt, you can apply for Associate membership and you can call yourself a fully qualified International Accountant. Congratulations, all your hard work has paid off!
Wait a moment! Your learning doesn’t stop there, as an International Accountant you have to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) throughout your career, and you have to continue to pay your annual subscription to stay a member and call yourself qualified. This is an assurance to the public and to your future employers that you keep up-to-date and are professional.
That’s it, there’s only four steps to take. We appreciate they may be scary steps though, and we’re here to support you every step of the way. The Student section of the website should be your first port of call for everything to do with the exams, study and your career, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for there, the Membership Services team is waiting for your call and will be happy to help. Or why not ask questions of other students and members in our LinkedIn Student Group?