What Qualifications Do I Need To Be An Accountant?

What Qualifications Do I Need To Be An Accountant?

Quailified Accountant on mobile phone - Samuel Olsen Recruitment

Whether they have the appropriate skills to do the job or not what qualifications do you need to be an Accountant in the UK?

Unlike the strict criteria in many other countries, in the UK, anyone can call themself an accountant and start trading!

Understandably, this can lead to untold problems for businesses that unwittingly trust their accounts to an unqualified accountant.

With this in mind, the letters that follow an accountant’s name are one of the most important things a business will look for, whether outsourcing their financial management or employing someone for their accounts team. 

What are the different accounting qualifications?

There are three routes to becoming a chartered accountant, the ACA, ACCA or CIMA. If you want to work in accounting but aren’t ready to pursue a full qualification, an AAT course could also be an option.

ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant)

  • The ACA is a professional qualification from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), which is internationally recognised as a premier business diploma.
  • The ICAEW has 140,000 members and students from 160 countries.
  • An ACA qualification can only be entered into as part of a training agreement with an authorised employer.
  • You will have five years to complete the course, during which time you’ll need to complete 450 days of work experience. 

ACCA (Associate Chartered Certified Accountant)

  • The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is one of the world’s largest accounting qualification providers, with 586,000 members and students in 170 countries.
  • Unlike the ICAEW, you can undertake the ACCA qualification independently should you choose to, and you also have up to 10 years to complete your exams.
  • To qualify, you must also complete three years of work experience.

CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)

  • The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is a professional body based in the United Kingdom that focuses on business accounting.
  • With 203,000 members and students spanning 173 countries, they’re a popular choice for gaining a qualification in management accounting and related subjects.
  • This qualification, like ACCA, can be obtained independently or through an employer training agreement.
  • There is no time limit for your qualification; you simply need to pass your exams and complete three years of work experience.

AAT (The Association of Accounting Technicians)

  • If you’re interested in a career in accounting but aren’t ready to pursue a full qualification, an AAT course could be a great alternative option.
  • While these certificate and diploma-level courses won’t give you chartered accountant status, you can complete one in as little as 6-18 months.
  • AAT qualifications are a great stepping stone toward a career in accounting and give you the core set of skills employers are looking for.

What is the most recognised accounting qualification?

CIMA and ACCA qualifications are the two most respected in the industry and make a great addition to any CV.

These qualifications are the best options if you’re interested in retraining as an accountant or want to transition from an uncertified to a chartered accountant. 

Ready to pursue a career in accounting? Samuel Olsen Recruitment would love to hear from you. Contact our team, and we’ll be in touch to discuss potential roles.


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