Statistically speaking (pardon the pun), it’s never been a better time to start a career in the industry most-likely to take on graduates.
According to research by Highflier.co.uk, the accounting industry is expected to be the biggest recruiter of graduates in 2016, a number which has increased 34% since 2006. What’s more, along with banking and finance, accounting has the highest median starting salaries in the UK.
If you’re considering a high-flying career in accounting, there’s a few things you should know first.
If money makes the world go round, so does accounting
All monetary transactions in business need to be accounted for, so wherever there’s money being made, there’s an opportunity for an accounting professional. It’s also a profession that is largely unaffected by the economic climate, as whether the profits are going up or down, accountants are still needed to work out what’s happening and make this data understandable to their colleagues, shareholders and the public.
Accountants have huge earning potential
Prospects.ac.uk says that accounting graduates can expect to enter their careers with salaries up to £25,000, depending on the location, sector or type of firm.
Qualifying usually takes about three to four years and comprises a number of exams, practical work experience and a professional ethics course. Most employers will pay your exam fees, and your salary is likely to increase the closer you get to qualifying.
Once fully qualified, this can more than double, with qualified chartered accountants with more than two years’ experience commanding the largest salaries – and that’s before bonuses.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) reports an expected salary of £45,000 upon qualification, and “the average earning potential of ICAEW chartered accountants in business, six to nine years after qualifying is £85,900.”
There are a lot of different qualification routes into accounting
But which one is right for you?
According to Reed.co.uk, “you won’t need a degree to become an Accountant, although an AAT qualification may be considered a prerequisite by most employers.”
Although helpful, it’s not essential to have an accounting degree in order to begin a career in accountancy. A variety of other qualification options are available to graduates of other subjects, and it’s possible to get an accounting internship.
The most popular accounting qualifications include:
AAT accounting courses – the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is made up of three qualifications across three levels, which combine industry knowledge and practical work skills.
ACCA qualifications – the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) hosts two levels of qualifications; Fundamentals and Professionals. Their modules cover a variety of topics from corporate and business law to audit and assurance.
ICAEW chartered accountant status – also referred to as the ACA, this qualification consists of three to five years of practical work experience and the completion of 13 modules.
Many accountancy firms will accept qualifications from any board, but if you have a definite career path in mind it’s worth taking a look into the preferred qualifications of that specialism.
There are a lot of different career options
Once qualified, the door will be opened to high-level accounting jobs in a huge variety of industries and businesses. The key areas in accountancy careers are as follows:
Audit – this usually involves checking accounting ledgers and financial statements within businesses, understanding how an organisation makes money.
Financial – from preparing financial statements to taking part in the business’s financial decisions, this role requires a good understanding of accountancy as well as finance.
Budgets – developing and organising a business’s financial plans.
Management accounting – contributing to decisions about capital budgeting and business analysis to ensure the company is operating at its optimum efficiency.
Tax – preparing corporate and personal income tax statement and devising strategies for more tax efficiency.
Within this, you then need to decide on the exact type of career you want to take, which can be broken down into:
Government – working directly for the government, preparing budgets, tracking costs, and analysing government initiatives.
Public accounting firm – providing accounting services with a group of other accountants all working together as a business. This is a good place to start if you need some time to decide where you would like to specialise.
Corporate – working for a business within an accounting department
Independent – setting up as a self-employed accountant and running your own business in whichever area you decide to specialise in.
Accounting jobs can get pretty rock ‘n’ roll
Did you know about the following, more unusual, career paths in accounting?
- Forensic accountants get to investigate issues such as fraud, money laundering and embezzlement.
- Entertainment Accountants can work for film studios, music labels and other entertainment sectors
- Environmental Accounting involves helping corporations maintain eco-friendly standards and complying with government regulations whilst still maintaining profitability.
- Accounting for Tech Start-Ups get to be part of an ever-growing and developing industry that provides a world of opportunities if you’ve got expertise and a passion for tech. Working for a smaller company means you’ll have more autonomy, and could take advantage of creative opportunities too.
Whatever stage you are at in your education or your career, an accounting qualification can prove to be an extremely lucrative decision.