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Chartered accountant: Salary and conditions

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  • Starting salaries for accountants vary depending on the location, sector, size and type of firm. Graduates entering the career can expect to earn salaries of up to £25,000. Those without a degree will earn less than this.
  • Once fully qualified, accountants can earn £26,000 to £50,000+. According to a 2014 salary survey by Stott and May, the average earning potential of chartered accountants with two years of experience is £47,900 plus bonus.
  • The average annual salary in business is £90,800.
  • Careers in banking and capital markets tend to attract the highest salaries.
  • Salary packages may include benefits such as bonuses, profit-sharing schemes, medical insurance, pensions and car allowances.
  • Chartered accountants have to undertake a training contract, (usually three to five years), in order to qualify. It is therefore important to consider the package of training, leave and pay offered by employers, as studying while working can be demanding. One of the main challenges for trainees is managing professional study commitments with the day-to-day job.
  • Working hours vary depending on the role and the organisation, but are not typically 9am to 5pm. Working extra hours in the evening and at weekends is quite common in order to meet deadlines, particularly in larger firms. Trainees can usually have time off in lieu of any overtime worked.
  • Flexible working arrangements are possible (usually after qualification). There is also the opportunity to work independently by setting up as a sole practitioner.
  • Jobs are available in most areas throughout the UK, but are more commonly found in cities and larger towns, where higher salaries are typically earned. Post-qualification opportunities exist overseas. There are also training opportunities overseas with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) - Careers .
  • Due to the high profile, accurate and responsible nature of the work, the dress code is usually formal.
  • Support and advice for women entering accountancy is offered by Women in Banking and Finance , which aims to empower individuals to reach their full potential.
  • Travel within a working day is frequent in audit work, which is carried out mainly at client premises. Absence from home overnight and occasional overseas travel is possible.
  • Working in other areas, such as tax, or in smaller firms, tends to be more office-based with less travel.

Salary data from ICAEW. Figures are intended as a guide only.

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Written by AGCAS editors
August 2015

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