Accountancy and Finance is an integral part of business life, which means that high quality candidates for roles are sought after. There is also a great range of roles available in the profession which means that there is something available at different levels of expertise and pay, giving opportunities to enter the profession and progress quickly once you are there.
There are also a number of professional qualifications which aspiring professionals can complete alongside work to help with progression and these are also internationally recognised, giving further scope for development.
A typical accountancy career path
Entry-level roles such as accounts assistant or purchase ledger clerk don’t usually require any experience or qualifications and training will be delivered “on the job”. These kinds of roles will help you to gain some experience, discover whether the sector is right for you and potentially move on to payroll or credit control roles.
At this point, you would be unlikely to be able to progress much further without a formal qualification. You might consider studying the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification as this is suitable for anyone with or without previous accounting or bookkeeping experience. Alternatively, if you feel more confident, or have a relevant degree, you might start with a chartered qualification such as those provided by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Once you have successfully achieved the qualification, you might be able to explore such roles as Management Accountant or Financial Accountant and with further industry-based experience you could then look towards higher level roles such as Financial Controller and Finance Manager.
What salaries can you expect?
When it comes to pay, the salary will vary depending on the role, your experience and qualifications as well as your location. Accounting jobs in the South Coast will usually pay up to around £80,000, unless you are working at Senior director level in which case you may expect to earn more.
Entry-level roles will usually have full time salaries from around £20,000. With more experience or qualifications, you could expect your salary to rise up to around £28,000. Many employers will offer study support for AAT, which means that salaries might be a little lower, to account for the study support package you are offered. The study support could involve paying course fees, giving you time off work to attend classes and exams, or both.
Once you have a chartered qualification, such as ACCA or CIMA, you might then be able to earn between £40,000 and £60,000, depending on your experience. In general, the level of qualification you have achieved and the experience you assimilate are the principal factors in determining your earnings potential.
You might even find a higher-level role such as financial controller will come with additional benefits such as healthcare, bonuses, or a company car.
Enhancing your digital expertise
There is an increasing need for digital expertise to secure and further a career in many sectors and accountancy is no exception. You will be expected to use accounting software or applications daily and a good knowledge of Office products, especially Excel will also be very useful. In an interview situation you are likely to be asked what technology you have used in the past, so take the opportunity to enhance your answer by going beyond simply listing software and talking about what you used the packages for, what you liked and disliked and whether you thought they could be improved in any way.
Fortunately, accounting software packages tend to be quite similar, and once you’ve got to grips with one it shouldn’t be difficult to pick up a new one provided that you are computer literate. However, if you can tell an interviewer that you have worked with more than one software package and demonstrate a good understanding of their features, it may very well make you stand out from other candidates.