Some of the most popular qualifications that can give you a blooming career in accountant are:
- AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)
- ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
- CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)
- ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant)
1. AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)
AAT qualification is the foundation qualification that is required for most types of bookkeeping. AAT accounting course consists of three sets of exams spread across three levels.
Completing these levels gives you the privilege of using the letters ‘MAAT’ after your name and becoming a professional member. This qualification combines practical work skills with industry knowledge and can help to boost your career in accountancy and bookkeeping.
The levels of AAT qualification are as follows:-
- AAT Level 2 Foundation Certificate
This is ideal for anyone who has just entered into accountancy or has excellent work experience but lacks qualifications. This level focuses on introducing ideas of double-entry bookkeeping, computerised accounts, accounting functions and equations.
- AAT Level 3 Advanced Diploma
The second level of the AAT qualification focuses on new concepts like year-end adjustments, prepayments, accruals, final account, etc.
- AAT Level 4 Professional Diploma
The final part of AAT accounting qualifications builds on the knowledge from the previous levels and introduces new concepts like the financial accounts and financial performance of companies. A project at the end of this level can allow you to understand the practical applicability of the knowledge that you have learnt throughout the qualification.
2. ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualifications
ACCA is one of the largest accounting qualifications providers globally.
The two types of levels under the qualification provided by ACCA are fundamentals and professionals.
Instead of just a technical approach, it focuses on giving its students a more rounded and deeper approach. It covers a variety of topics, from business laws to advanced taxation.
The three stages of exams in ACCA qualification are:-
- Applied knowledge exams
These exams help the students to understand the essential accounting techniques.
- Applied skills exams
These exams help students to develop a strong and practical knowledge of finance.
- Strategic Professional
These exams help the students to develop skills and specialisation that can give a boost to their career.
Apart from these exams, ACCA qualification is also known for giving real-world experience to its students. On average, it takes around 3 to 4 years to complete this qualification.
Three years of relevant work experience is also required to complete this qualification.
Completing this qualification is equivalent to acquiring a master’s degree, after which you can work with any accountancy firm.
To enter into public practice or set up an accounting practice, you will need additional 3 years of supervised work experience.
You can specialise in audit and sign audit reports with ACCA.
3. CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) qualifications
CIMA is a UK based professional body that provides training and qualification required to go into management accountancy.
CIMA helps to develop fundamental knowledge and skills required to build a successful career in finance and business.
You can complete this qualification either independently or by approaching your employer for a training agreement.
The CIMA and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants created the designation of CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountants) in 2012.
CGMA is the most popular and commonly held designation in the world in the field of management accounting. CGMA requires you to have the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting (Cert BA) at the postgraduate level.
4. ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant)
This is a professional qualification under ICAEW (the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales).
ICAEW is a major UK based accountancy professional body that aims at developing and supporting chartered accountants and students globally.
ACA includes practical work experience for 450 days and 15 exam modules.
ACA accountants have the highest demand. To complete this qualification, usually you enter into a training agreement with an employer. Four core elements must be completed for ACA:
- Accountancy, finance and business modules
- Ethics and professional scepticism
- Practical work experience
- Professional development
Along with this 15 exams are spread across three rounds:
- Certificate level
There are usually 6 exams in this level that are computer-based and mainly consists of multiple-choice questions.
A candidate can get the results within 24 hours of sitting these exams. The candidate must pass three out of the six exams the first time.
- Professional level
The following six examinations under this level usually consist of long questions, and the candidates can get the result a few weeks after sitting the exams.
The candidate becomes par-qualified on the completion of these exams.
- Advanced level
All the exams under the advanced level consist of long questions and are fully open book. The results of these exams are provided to the candidates weeks after sitting these exams.
Doing any of the above qualifications can prove a smart move for your career because qualified accountants in Central London are in high demand today.
AAT is a basic accounting qualification; CIMA focuses on management accounting, whereas ACCA and ACA are more financial accounting oriented. Usually, external auditors ACCA or ACA from ICAEW qualified with additional audit exams and experience under their belt.