Accounting has been rising in popularity as a second career over recent years, as many people start to see the benefits of it over their current path. Accounting can offer huge potential for career growth and, if you are willing to gain the right qualifications, the sky’s the limit.
While a career change to accounting can seem daunting, there are plenty of qualifications to guide you through the whole process, from novice to expert.
Starting from the beginning
If your career up until now has been completely unrelated to accounting, you’ll need to gain some professional qualifications. The best place to start is with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications. The first level starts from the very basics, allowing you to gradually build up your knowledge.
You might be wondering whether you will have to leave your current role in order to start studying for new qualifications. The assumption that a career change to accounting involves having to be unemployed while you study can put people off, but there’s an easy way around it.
Our distance learning courses allow you to study flexibly around your current role. So, you can work from nine to five, and then do a few study sessions each week in the evenings or at weekends.
What does it take to become an accountant?
Watch the webinar with AAT qualified accounting tutor Patricia Barlow
Financial or management accounting
Before you make a career change to accounting, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. While you might not have all the answers, think about where you’d like to be in five years. Most accountants will make the choice between financial or management accounting at some point in their career. Let’s take a look at the main differences between the two.
This involves reporting on financial information for your client – many financial accountants work for firms, where they will have a number of clients. The aim of financial accounting is usually to present information on a specific financial period, and to demonstrate that it meets regulations.
Management accounting is less about number crunching, and more about making inferences from financial data. Data is analysed not to see how far it meets regulations, but to see how a business could perform better in terms of profit. Management accountants apply past financial information to future strategy, presenting this information to senior members of an organisation.
Not sure which route you would like to go down? Take the quiz!
How long will it take to become qualified?
How long it takes to become qualified depends on your ambitions, and the path you choose. Once you’ve gained a grounding in accounting with AAT, it’s up to your how far you go. You can become fully AAT qualified in between eighteen months and three years, and go into a junior accounting role. From a position like Accounts Assistant, you can then work your way up in the industry.
If you would like to become qualified to Chartered Certified level, you can go on to study ACCA while you work in your current role, or in a junior accounting role. This often takes around three or four years, although you can take up to ten.
For those whose ambitions lie in management accounting, you can expect to spend between three and six years studying CIMA.
For more information, read our detailed blog post about how long it takes to become an accountant.