A career in accounting

Lauren Wise, The Accountancy Partnership
January, 2016

Accounting is often perceived as an uneventful career by those outside of the industry. Discover the reality of how it can actually be one of the most fulfilling roles in business

The endless list of opportunities makes accounting a fruitful and rewarding career option for any graduate

Accounting requires the skills of analysis, interpretation and adaptability in order to communicate accurate financial information and drive forward business growth.

It's a necessity for every business; without it, they wouldn't be able to provide trustworthy financial records - which would limit their potential for successful expansion. An accountant is therefore able to drive growth through honest financial advice and realistic targets.

This presents the perfect opportunity for graduates hoping to build key skills and enter a prosperous industry.


A variety of finance qualifications are available to those hoping to study accounting, which can be confusing when searching for job opportunities. However, most students study general degrees at Bachelors level before potentially choosing their specialism as a postgraduate student.

Although helpful, it's not essential to have an accounting degree in order to begin a career in accountancy. A variety of other qualification options are available to graduates of other subjects. Alternatives to accounting degrees can often be studied while taking accounting internships.

The most popular accounting qualifications include:

AAT accounting courses - the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is made up of three qualifications across three levels, which combine industry knowledge and practical work skills.

ACCA qualifications - the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) hosts two levels of qualifications; Fundamentals and Professionals. Their modules cover a variety of topics from corporate and business law to audit and assurance.

ICAEW chartered accountant status - also referred to as the ACA, this qualification consists of three to five years of practical work experience and the completion of 13 modules.

Many accountancy firms will accept qualifications from any board, but if you have a definite career path in mind it's worth taking a look into the preferred qualifications of that specialism.

Areas of accounting

Accounting can be split into two key areas: management accounting and financial accounting. Within these divisions are further specialist areas.

The difference between management accounting and financial accounting is that the former provides information to people within a company, while financial accounting provides information to those outside of it, such as shareholders.

Unlike financial accounting, management accounting is not required by law and only covers particular products, while financial accounting covers the entire organisation. Most graduates will enter accounting through financial accountancy which can provide a wide variety of career prospects in different areas.

Accounting careers related to the financial accounting sector include:

  • audit;
  • business recovery and insolvency;
  • corporate finance;
  • forensic accounting;
  • tax.

For each accounting specialism, graduates also have the choice of whether to work in the public or private sector.

The endless list of opportunities makes accounting a fruitful and rewarding career option for any graduate.

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