To become an accounting technician you will need excellent commercial sense, an interest in business and finance and confidence when handling numerical data
As an accounting technician, you would prepare the financial information which professional accountants or business managers use when making decisions. You could be part of a large team or you could be the only financially-trained member of staff in a small enterprise. Accounting technicians can be employed in industry, commerce, or the public sector. Most people in this job start their careers in a finance support role.
Depending on the route taken, qualification and subsequent work experience, you may cover a range of roles including gathering, checking and analysing financial information.
Responsibilities in all company sizes would include:
With experience, you might take on supervisor responsibilities and more complex tasks, such as:
Different financial departments require different specialist knowledge. Accounting technicians can develop specific skills depending on which area of finance they work in.
Self-employed accounting technicians provide a range of accountancy services to businesses. These tend to be in a specialist area of accounting and may include:
Salaries vary according to the employer and sector of employment. There are regional variations with higher salaries in southern England, particularly London.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Accounting technicians usually work standard office hours. Busy periods may occur when processing end-of-month accounts and at the beginning and end of the financial year.
Part-time work and career breaks are usually possible. Temporary and short-term contract are also available.
There are two vocational qualification routes:
There are no specific minimum entry requirements to train with the AAT, although a reasonable level of literacy and numeracy is essential.
Many technicians train while on the job via part-time study or distance learning, or on apprenticeship schemes that may be on offer.
One such scheme is the CIPFA Finance Apprenticeship Scheme, which provides opportunities in public finance, accounting and audit. Apprentices will work for partner employers on a fixed-term contract of 12 months, during which time they will study the AAT Level 4 qualification.
The scheme provides a serious alternative to university or postgraduate training schemes and enables those selected to carve out a career in public financial management.
The AAT have designed a useful tool to help decide which level of the core AAT Accounting Qualification may be suitable for you and this is called AAT Skillcheck.
The AAT Accounting Qualification is split into three levels:
To become a member of AAT, at least one year's work experience must be completed to be able to apply for full AAT membership and use the letters MAAT after your name.
Many study AAT qualifications as part of an apprenticeship programme.
The AAT apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with the AAT Accounting Qualification. Here's how they work:
Find out more about apprenticeships.
Short courses to see if accountancy and finance is a definite career choice are available via AAT Access; an introduction to fundamental business and finance skills.
The AAT's Certificate in Bookkeeping is another pathway to become equipped with the skills of basic accounting tools and techniques.
All of the AAT qualifications are designed to ensure flexibility to be able to study part-time, full-time or via distance learning.
Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) status is awarded by ACCA upon completing one year of relevant supervised work experience, and demonstrating a level of professional competency based upon this. Unless students actively choose to opt out, they are automatically transferred to the ACCA qualification register upon gaining CAT status. This avoids the need for further forms and fees involved in continuing accountancy education.
You will need to show:
Accounting technicians work in a variety of organisations throughout all sectors of business, industry and commerce. Many begin their training in firms of chartered or certified accountants. It may be possible to change employers during training. Employers often ask for either part or fully-qualified accounting technicians.
Alternatively, there is the option to become self-employed. The number of AAT members who work on a freelance basis is increasing. Freelance accounting technicians provide specialist services to a range of businesses.
Look for job vacancies at:
Professional bodies may also provide useful links to vacancy websites. Some produce monthly magazines that provide useful sector information and vacancies.
Specialist recruitment agencies handle temporary and permanent vacancies.
Evidence of practical skills is required by both the AA) and the ACCA, in the form of the AAT Accounting Qualification and the ACCA Certified Accounting Technician qualification.
Once fully AAT or CAT qualified, the pathways are open to continue study to become a chartered accountant. All of the professional accountancy organisations offer fast-track routes and exemptions whether an AAT member or CAT qualified.
Technicians may also use voluntary work or hobbies, such as being the treasurer for a local society, as an example of work experience.
Most accounting technicians receive on-the-job training. Procedures and software packages vary depending on the sector, the company and the area in which you are working.
Employees are recognising the need for continuing professional development (CPD). Many employers are prepared to offer some form of support to employees to enable them to update and improve their skills and knowledge.
Support from employers can include payment of college fees or time off for study, either by attending a day release course or being granted study leave.
Accounting technicians can progress higher positions such as:
The AAT Accounting Qualification is a recognised qualification in its own right. Although some accounting technicians with the AAT qualification manage to reach senior levels, many see it as a stepping stone to further professional qualifications.
Five major accountancy training organisations offer exemptions from some of their modules/examinations to qualified accounting technicians. See their websites for further details:
AAT's fast-track route allows faster progression to chartered accountant status for non-graduates and school leavers.