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How to become a chartered accountant – careers and qualifications

Chartered Accountant

A chartered accountant does so much more than crunch numbers –  and they’re anything but boring!

What is a chartered accountant?

A chartered accountant is a professional whose job combines business skills with financial knowledge and know-how.  Chartered accountants work in all areas of business, big and small and in both the public and the private sectors. Have a look at the ICAEW website for a bit more info.

What do chartered accountants do? 

Chartered accountants are a vital part of any business. They problem-solve and use their in-depth understanding of business to provide organisations with the advice and information needed to understand their financial position and to make business decisions and as such, they must be able to explain financial issues to others in a way that they can understand.

Which route should I take to become a chartered accountant?

Routes into a career as a chartered accountant are quite varied. You could choose the traditional university degree pathway, go for direct entry with an accountancy firm and train on the job or join the profession via a vocational route, such as an apprenticeship, or by doing an HNC or HND.

You might like to investigate how to get entry level jobs in accountancy, intermediate accountancy apprenticeships or higher apprenticeships 

Which GCSEs and A-levels do I need to be a chartered accountant?

At the school stage of your studies you could choose an A-level, full time vocational or apprenticeship route as the first stage of becoming a chartered accountant. Whichever pathway you choose, you will have to complete the training associated with professional chartered accountancy status.

You could gain entry onto the Level 2 accounting apprenticeship by doing GCSEs, A-levels, or a National Diploma. You could work in a role such as accounts assistant, accounts clerk, credit control clerk, purchase ledger clerk or sales ledger clerk. You would work towards Level 2 certificates in Accounting and Financial and Management Accounting and gain the AAT qualification.

From here you could progress on to a Level 3 apprenticeship and work as a trainee accountant or accounting technician or do a higher apprenticeship and work as an account manager or accounting technician.

Do I have to go to uni to be a chartered accountant?

Choosing the university route doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to study for a straight accounting and finance degree, although doing this if the degree is accredited by an official body means that you will be exempt from the Test of Competence exams, which make up the first stage of professional accountancy training.

What does training to be a chartered accountant involve?

Training as a chartered accountant involves studying a wide range of topics including: business law, business management, financial accounting and reporting and the principles of auditing and taxation. You will also have to demonstrate your professional expertise through completing a case study, and business ethics are studied throughout your training because professional integrity is fundamental in the world of chartered accountancy. Go to our finance, banking and accounting web page for more information.

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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