Accountants can often be misportrayed as grey, dour beancounters. But accountants are the cornerstones of every business, keeping cashflows positive and ensuring the organisation understands the financial challenges.
Who can I work for?
You can go into practice (ie, PriceWaterhouse, etc), go into commerce (ie, a finance director with a firm) or work for yourself, representing a raft of clients and businesses.
Where and when can I work?
Fixed hours for big companies with scope for overtime, flexible if you work for yourself. Accountants running their own businesses can expect emergency calls from clients over the year.
What can I earn?
The average salary two years after qualification is £42,000. The average for all chartered accountants is £70,000 – with salaries being higher in London.
What are the benefits?
It's recession-proof! Your earnings and professional standing are way above average.
Are there chances of promotion?
Good. It's not uncommon for someone in their early 30s to be a finance director. Upon qualification your salary should rise 30%. Most companies know you can move and demand more.
What will I be responsible for?
The early years should be a slog and not overly exciting. But this will give you the grounding and experience you will need to progress. And your work will evolve as you climb higher up the career ladder. You should soon be managing your own junior and trainee accountants.
What qualifications do I need?
You need a decent degree, preferably in maths, accountancy, business studies, economics or finance. But it IS possible to become an accountant with lower school qualifications. Without A-levels, it is possible to gain the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification. This is fully recognised in the trade. Office juniors can work up to accountant level. But you have to have GCSEs and preferably A levels to begin with. Then if you find a firm which is willing to train you, you can acquire the necessary AAT, CAT or CIMA qualifications.
Do I need any experience?
What attributes are needed?
Patience, discipline, having quick wits, great attention to detail, a logical brain, good with figures (obviously!)