If you feel you’ve been in the same accounting role for too long, it might well be time to seek something more challenging.
To give yourself the best chance of bagging your ideal opportunity, you should make sure you’re fully prepared.
The topic of accounting career progression is covered in more depth in our free webinar.
To advance in your accounting career, well-respected qualifications are a must. There are a variety of industry-recognised qualifications that develop expertise in different areas.
If you’re relatively new to accounting, the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification is ideal. This qualification will take you from the very basics, right up to an advanced understanding of financial performance. You can start at the level that best suits you, depending on the knowledge and experience you’ve already gained.
If you’re looking to progress into management accounting, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification is ideal. Again, if you have no previous qualifications, you can start with the fundamentals. If, on the other hand, you already have an accounting qualification, you may be able to move straight into the higher level qualification, which will demonstrate to employers your ability to drive forward commercial success.
How to advance your accounting career
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If you’re looking for your next opportunity in accounting, whether it’s a new job, a promotion, or even starting your own business, the right experience is a must.
Experience in the right areas means not only getting recognised by employers and clients, but the ability to prosper in your next role.
The experience you need to gain will depend on the area and level you wish to progress into. If you’re relatively new to accounting, you might have only gained experience with data processing so far. To ready yourself for a more senior role, try to get involved with reconciliations, and with identifying and reporting on discrepancies.
If your aim is to go into management accounting, try to take on tasks that involve product costing, and things with a more strategic or analytical focus.
Perhaps you could ask more senior colleagues to delegate these kinds of tasks to you, so that you can gradually build your confidence in the right areas. If it’s not possible within your current role, or if you’re seeking your first role in the industry, why not volunteer your services? Plenty of charitable organisations look for assistance with their accounts, and you can find these opportunities on sites like do-it.org.
The right skills
Don’t forget, no matter how qualified you are and how much experience you have, there are certain prerequisite skills for success in accounting.
One of the most important skills for accounting professionals, and one that is often overlooked, is communication. Whether you work in an accounting firm, in-house for an organisation, or are self-employed, you will require the ability to communicate financial information in a way that is clear and simple for an audience with no financial background.
In any accounting role, an analytical flair is essential. Even in relatively junior roles, you’ll need to be able to spot discrepancies and recognise when things don’t add up. In more senior roles, you’ll normally be carrying out advanced reporting, and making recommendations to management based on financial data.
An often-overlooked skill that is crucial for any accounting professional is effective communication. Whether you want to work for a firm, in-house, or run your own business, you will need to be able to communicate financial information in a way that is clear and simple to those with no financial background.
You may already possess these skills, or you might need to dedicate some time to improving in these areas. Aside from this, you will need to keep up with new information and best practice relevant to your role through ongoing professional development.
There are various ways you can advance your accounting career, and our AAT qualified accounting tutor Patricia Barlow talks through some of the most effective approaches in this webinar.
To find out more about gaining the qualifications you need to follow your ideal career path in accounting, get in touch below.