Most aspiring accountants know that the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications lay the foundations for a successful career. However, it’s not always clear where to start, and one question commonly asked is “Which AAT course should I do?”.
Each level of AAT reflects different levels of knowledge and experience, so let’s take a look at your ideal starting point.
AAT Foundation (Level 2)
What is it? The level 2 Foundation Certificate is the starting point for the AAT accounting qualification, with the Certificate in Accounting at the end. This level introduces the idea of double entry bookkeeping and the accounting equation. It also includes a computerised accounts unit, which means you can apply any manual bookkeeping skills you have learnt to the computerised system. You will also look at basic costing, and the role of accountancy in a business.
Who should do it? This is a great choice for anyone brand new to accounting, as well as those with working experience of accountancy, but lacking a qualification. It’s ideal if you have just entered a trainee accounts role, as it will rapidly increase the development of fundamental skills.
The Foundation Certificate is also well suited to those working in an Accounts Clerk role using a computerised accounts package, as it will equip you with an understanding of how the software works, and how it integrates with other accounting functions.
AAT Advanced (Level 3)
What is it? The second level of the AAT accounting qualification is the level 3 Advanced Diploma. This level builds on knowledge from the Certificate, including double entry principles and costing, introducing concepts such as year-end adjustments and accruals and prepayments, as well as producing a set of final accounts.
This level also introduces new concepts, with units dedicated to the use of spreadsheets and ethics in an accountancy role.
Who should do it? If you have already completed the Certificate, then the next step is progression onto the Advanced Diploma. If you have another accountancy qualification that equips you with the basic knowledge covered at Certificate level, then you should begin at this level.
If you have working knowledge of manual accounts and understand double entry principles, then you could start at this level. If you work in an accountancy role such as Senior Accounts Clerk, and are used to manual accounts processes, then this is the perfect starting point as it will build on your current experience with bank reconciliations and management accounts.
AAT Professional (Level 4)
What is it? The third and final part of the AAT accounting qualification is the level 4 Professional Diploma. This level again builds on knowledge from the previous two levels, looking at financial accounts for limited companies, as well as financial performance for businesses.
You will be able to choose two optional units, which will be either be tax based or cash flow based. You will also need to complete a project, which gives you the opportunity to apply what you have learnt throughout the qualification, and demonstrate your understanding of accountancy controls.
Who should do it? If you already have the Advanced Diploma, then this is the obvious next step. If you have been working in a finance role and have working knowledge of double entry, final adjustments to accounts and costing, you will have the comprehension levels required to begin with the Advanced Diploma.
If you work in a Finance Manager role, where you are costing products, completing cash flows and budgets, and performing financial accounts and tax returns, then this is the ideal qualification to support and enhance your existing skills and knowledge.
If you’re still wondering which AAT course you should do, don’t hesitate to get in touch below.