Posted by: Andre Post Date: 22nd August 2014

Both recognised by employers far and wide, it can be hard to decide which accounting course is right for you, AAT or ACCA.

However, the two qualification routes are different in a number of ways, and suit different kinds of people. So, what’s best for you, AAT or ACCA?

Previous qualifications

The courses available to you are often decided by your previous qualifications and experience. If you’re just starting out in accounting, you will need an introduction, whereas if you’re already partly qualified, you might be ready to start at the next level.


AAT allows you to take your first steps into accounting, and all you need to begin the course is enthusiasm. The level 2 Certificate in Accounting will arm you with basic accounting skills and knowledge, from costing and double-entry bookkeeping to computerised accounting.

ACCA, on the other hand, is aimed at those with some previous qualifications. To embark on the Fundamental level course, you will need to have at least two A levels and three GCSEs.

The Fundamental level of ACCA starts at a more advanced level than AAT. Its coverage is both broad and deep, focusing in detail on topics including Financial Accounting, Corporate and Business Law, and Performance Management.

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Career ambitions

AAT stands for the Association of Accounting Technicians, and is ideal for aspiring accounting technicians, as well as bookkeepers. Roles you could be considered for after completing AAT include:

  • Assistant Financial Accountant
  • Junior Commercial Analyst
  • Assistant Fixed Asset Accountant

According to AAT’s salary survey, most people earn between £12,000 and £26,000 after becoming fully AAT qualified. Of course, the kinds of job roles you will be suitable for, as well as your potential salary, will change to reflect your experience as you move through your career.

ACCA stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and prepares you for more advanced roles, such as:

  • Personal Banker
  • Financial Analyst
  • Tax Manager

The full ACCA qualification is considered equivalent to a Master’s Degree, and those who have achieved it often rise to top positions, such as Chief Financial Officer, later on in their career.

Combining courses

If you are just beginning your accountancy education, and find it difficult to decide between AAT or ACCA, you can do both. In fact, the two qualifications work together so that, if you have completed AAT level 4, you’ll be exempt from the first three units of ACCA.

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