Accounting is an industry with plenty of opportunities, but it can feel like a challenging field to get into. How long will it take to become a qualified accountant? And what benefits can you expect once you become one?
In this blog, we explore why you should consider accounting as a career and the steps you’ll need to take to become a qualified accountant.
Why Become an Accountant?
Start Your Own Business
If you’ve ever dreamed of starting your own business, a career path as an accountant could make that easier.
Many accounting firms were started by individuals. Once you have some hands-on experience in the industry, feel free to pursue your entrepreneurship dreams and start your own firm.
Qualified Chartered Accountants can expect a starting salary of around €57,000. Becoming an accountant requires a lot of education and training.
Your salary will reflect that once you’ve completed your certification and start working as an accountant.
Diverse Work Experiences
Every business needs an accountant to manage their money. That means you’ll have the opportunity to work with just about any type of industry that interests you.
As an accountant, you’ll primarily be in one of these four sectors:
- Public accounting: Serve many clients with tax and/or audit services
- Private accounting: Work for one company and handle accounting-related tasks
- Government accounting: Work for a government agency to help manage funds
- Education: Research and teach accounting to students
Does this sound like an exciting career opportunity? Keep reading to learn the 5 steps you need to take to become a qualified accountant.
Step 1: Choose Your Path
When you first start looking at your accounting career path, you’ll want to choose which type of qualification is best for you. There are several that you can choose from, with ACCA and CIMA being two of the most recognised.
ACCA is recognised globally. It’s one of the largest and fastest-growing accounting qualifications in the world. The ACCA qualification is a great option if you think you might like to work in a variety of roles.
You can use the ACCA qualification to land jobs in public or private accounting. Or, you can start your own accounting practice.
The CIMA qualification is best suited for people that want to become management accountants. Specifically, if you’re looking to work for a business you might be best off working towards a CIMA qualification.
Step 2: Understand Your Exemptions
ACCA and CIMA want to reward you for prior knowledge and skills. Understanding if you qualify for exemptions, and which ones to seek out, will help cut down your study time by letting you skip portions of the exams.
That means you can become certified quicker and start searching for your dream job sooner.
The ACCA may award exemptions across the Foundation level qualifications and nine Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills exams. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to earn an exemption based on work experience.
If you qualify for an exemption, you should think hard before claiming it. After all, the knowledge you get from studying can help you pass the more difficult tests you have ahead.
If you qualify for an exemption but don’t feel like the information is fresh on your mind, it might be best to study for that part of the test anyway.
Your degree or other qualifications may earn you an exemption in the CIMA exams. Their website has a database that you can search to see if you qualify.
Most of the qualifications focus on the type of degree you hold. But you can also earn an exemption if you’re a member of ICMAP or have another relevant qualification.
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Step 3: Choose a Program
Before you start studying for your exams, you’ll need to choose a program to follow. You’ll have plenty of options, whether you want an online program or a traditional learning environment.
Consider how flexible you need your learning to be. If you have an unpredictable schedule or need to study on your own time, an online study program may be best suited for you. But if you can commit to being in class at a scheduled time, you can benefit from social interactions and live discussions.
Step 4: Study and Pass the Exams
Next, it’s time to focus on passing your exams. Pay attention to any time deadlines you have for passing your exams. Keep in mind that you need 3 years of work experience in order to become qualified for either CIMA or ACCA.
CIMA doesn’t have a time limit on completing the certification. You should plan to study about 150 hours total to pass your exams. Most people can become certified in about 3-5 years while balancing work and other obligations.
ACCA requires that you complete all the exams within ten years. To become qualified, you’ll need about 3 years if you’re dedicated. Most people become certified within 4 years.
Step 5: Search for Your Dream Job!
Once you’ve qualified as an accountant with your CIMA or ACCA certification, you’ll have more opportunities for jobs in the accounting industry. Here are some to consider.
An assistant accountant role is perfect if you’re just starting out in the accounting world. You’ll be working under a senior level accountant. Your role will include a variety of accounting tasks whether you’re in private or public accounting. This is a great role to get you up to speed with accounting.
You can choose to work in public accounting and have many audit clients, or you can choose to work in private accounting and perform internal audit tasks.
Either way, auditing is a great way to see the whole financial picture of any organisation. You’ll have your hands in financial statements and help to ensure everything is accurate.
Just like an auditor, tax accountants can be found in almost any sector. If you choose to work in public accounting, you can handle the taxes for many businesses, individuals, or a combination of both.
Private tax accountants typically manage the business tax duties of their company. Sometimes that means submitting tax reports and providing tax advice.
Becoming a qualified accountant can have plenty of benefits. Accounting is a great career path with endless opportunities and a nice salary as well.
You’ll have to put in some work to get to the finish line, but it will be worth it in the end. Just follow the steps above to get started on your new career journey today.