Accounting Career

Your accounting career starts here. Here's the qualifications you need to become a qualified accountant in the next 3 or so years whether you want to specialise as a tax accountant or study for the Chartered Institute of accountants or the other bodies such as ACCA or CIMA.

What is an accountant ?

Most people think of a grey boring man or a glorified bookkeeper counting beans but in reality a good accountant will keep the cash flow positive and ensure the whole organisation understands profitability. Only qualified accountants can legally approve accounts (see below) and you can have a career as a finance director or an auditor. It depends on what excitement you want ! Other accountants specialise in tax planning, insolvency or small businesses.

Why Become an Accountant ?

Accountants are rarely unemployed as every business needs to have their accounts prepared and approved. Larger businesses employ a Finance Director (CFO - chief financial officer) to manage not only monthly account preparation but also longer term financial planning.

The role of an accountant

Accounting Qualifications

To become an accountant you'll generally need a reasonable degree although it's not essential but a degree will get you exemptions from some of the exams. The first part though is to choose which accounting body you wish to study towards and what type of accountant you want to be.

There are three main accounting bodies - The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Which one you follow is dependent on where you wish to end up in life. ICAEW and ACCAs are allowed to sign off audited accounts so if you want to go into practice (eg: PriceWaterhouse etc) then these are for you. The ICAEW is always the preferred option and they have a higher standing.

CIMA folks can not sign off audited accounts and people studying for this generally target commerce (ie: a Finance Director in a company) but many people who are qualified for the others end up as Finance Directors as well.

Accountant exams

If you join one of the big auditing companies you'll generally be sponsored to take your exams, have time off to revise and get paid as well.

It's a hard slog and takes about 3 years to complete all the exams but worth it in the end.

Accounting work

Working as an accountant in your early years may seem boring but it will give you a thorough grounding in how accounts work, what's required for an audit and how to manage finances and how to interact with clients and how you inform clients how their accounts have been developed. Your work will evolve and before long you'll be managing your own junior and trainee accountants so they get to do the administration duties.

As you move up your career you will take on vast responsibilities. It's not unusual for a 30 year old to be a Finance Director of a fairly major organisation and upon qualification your salary should increase by 30% as most companies know you can move and demand more.

The great thing these days is many business people are doing their own accounts either using computer software by Sage or other accounting systems or using online small business accounting software such as Kashflow. This makes your job a little easier although many small business owners simply provide papers that you have to sort out and make sense of.

Good luck with your accounting career - it's one of the best and is recession proof and your earnings and professional standing will be far above average.

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