If you love numbers, figuring out problems in an analytical way and can balance the books better than anyone you know, being an accountant might be your perfect career. Accountants are much in demand from businesses but also from self-employed people who all need help with their company accounts. And there are lots of options from being a generalist to a specialist depending on what you enjoy. Here’s a simple 5-step guide to becoming an accountant.
1. Get qualified
You do need to have qualifications to start a career as an accountant – while you can learn a lot on the job, you need something on paper to get started. There are various routes to take but you want an AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification. The good news is that there are lots of places around the country where you can get these from AAT Courses in London to those being taught in colleges around the UK. Always looks for official qualifications that come with the correct paperwork before you sign up.
2. Pick a specialism
There are two main areas of accounting and lots of smaller ones inside it. You don’t need to get super specific at the outset, but you do want to choose between management accounting and financial accounting. Then you can look at further specialism later if you want. Management accounting is about providing information to people within a company while financial accounting involves giving information to people outside the company and includes areas such as auditing, corporate finance, forensic accounting and tax.
3. Learn the tech
As well as learning to be an accountant with its regulations and best practices, you also want to get familiar with the kind of tech you will need to use in your job. This will include standard accounting software as well as general computer skills such as using Excel and spreadsheets, email and other everyday tech systems. You may want to learn about giving presentations if you are offering advice to clients with software such as PowerPoint.
4. Find your first job
Once you are qualified and have picked your specialist area, you can start looking for jobs. The real-world experience is a key part of your success story, building on what you learn in training. You can work with anyone from public sector companies to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). There are even accountancy apprenticeships available that can be done alongside further training in some cases.
5. Keep Studying
Armed with your AAT qualification, you are ready for work as an accountant. But as you find the area you want to concentrate on and specialise in, you will want to keep studying and add more qualifications to your resume for this particular area. This can combine with on the job experience to help you keep moving your career in the direction you want it to be. You can also add other specialisms to your range to allow you to move direction later in your career if you decide you want to do this.