So you’re contemplating a career in accounting and finance? Here are the facts on finding your way into a financially rewarding career.
BY JACK EVANS
The entry requirements to study a degree in Accounting and Finance vary between universities but you will need at least 5 GSCEs at grades A*to C. The ideal combination of A-levels to maximise your chances of gaining a university place to study this subject are varied. The University of Bath suggests you choose Mathematics A-level plus two others from this list:
- Ancient History
- Any Language
- Business Studies
- Classical Civilisation
- Economics and Business Studies
- English Literature
- Further Mathematics
- Government & Politics
- Greek (Classical)
- History of Art
- Pure Mathematics
- Religious Studies
- World Development
(General Studies and Critical Thinking are excluded)
To gain a place on a degree course you would be expected to have an understanding of, or at the very least, an interest in the subject. You’ll need to understand people, work and organisations and show that you have an aptitude for quantitative analysis of business issues. It would be beneficial to show evidence of your interest in issues concerning the world of finance too.
Whilst it is not a requirement to have a degree in accounting and finance to pursue a career in this area, it does give you a huge advantage. Look for a degree which offers a work placement or internship with a recognised company as part of the course. Try to seek out some paid or even unpaid work experience in the field as soon as you have decided that a career in finance and accounting is the way you want to go. Fortunately there are numerous companies around the UK who offer undergraduate placements and internships in accounting and finance. It’s always a good idea to get ahead of the competition as early as possible in any given career, so getting any sort of work experience in your chosen field would be highly advantageous.
A few universities offer accountancy only courses but it is far more common to find degrees which combine accountancy with finance. Accounting and finance can also occasionally be found as modules under the broader umbrella of a Business and Management degree. The degree will include learning quantitative methods and in-depth data analysis as well as how to improve budgeting, costing and performance management. So if those all sound up your street it would be worth your while to consider a degree in business and management.
If a degree really isn’t for you then it’s possible to do an accounting apprenticeship which would give you the chance to obtain a professional accountancy qualification. If you do go down the apprenticeship route, make sure to choose one that suits your potential career path.
For instance, if you’re looking for a career as an account assistant, credit control clerk or financial assistant you’ll want to find an apprenticeship that will qualify you as an accounting technician. If you want to enter into a career in accounting or finance a little higher up the chain of command, it might be worth working through an Advanced then a Higher Apprenticeship after completing the Intermediate Level. This improves your employability greatly. With these qualifications under your belt, you could enter a company as a manager.
There are many different areas of accounting and finance so make sure you research all the options thoroughly before you decide which area interests you the most.
If the analytical and interpretive side of accounting appeals to you, you could consider a career in forensic accounting. A forensic accountant helps to sort out corporate financial disputes or irregularities and can also work on criminal and fraud cases. This job requires a thorough understanding of and a confident ability to communicate financial information clearly in a court of law. Forensic accounting doesn’t just deal with numbers but also situational business realities and legal concepts and procedures – a really fascinating branch of accountancy.
You’ll be glad to learn that starting salaries in accounting are pretty generous – on average, a graduate will earn around £25,000 a year and with managers’ salaries climbing into six figures. The financial rewards are a clear incentive for anyone who wants to invest in a lucrative career, managing other people’s money! For more info visit: www.directions.org.uk