Accountancy can often be viewed as a career path for the elite – straight A students who have soared through school into a prestigious university and on to a big brand employer. The reality is that there are plenty of alternative routes into accountancy.
Whilst a university degree would immediately attract employers, there are ways to achieve a role in the industry without ever having set foot in a higher education institution.
The first step to a successful career isn’t always the obvious one. Many people make their way into accountancy via an admin role. Or maybe they simply had to cover for someone who was on holiday and realised they have a natural flair for the role.
If you’re just on the cusp of leaving school and don’t fancy another four years in full-time education, you can still get access to qualifications.
There are a wide range of school leaver apprenticeships on offer, providing you with both on-the-job experience and an exciting alternative to university. You can work towards your qualifications at the same time as being in full-time employment – meaning you’re taking home a wage whilst you learn.
Depending on your employer, you may also have the opportunity to progress on to a chartered qualification once you have completed your apprenticeship studies.
The types of qualifications you can work towards include ICAS, ACCA, AAT and CIMA credits. By working whilst you learn, you become qualified by experience. Employers will usually help towards the cost of studying for these qualifications – meaning you won’t be saddled with any post-education debt, either.
But if that seems unsuitable, there is also the opportunity to study at night school. Training centres such as Kaplan Glasgow offer a wide range of qualifications from book keeping to Foundations in Accountancy. However, these courses do tend to stipulate that candidates are already working in the accountancy industry (even if it is in an administrative capacity).
In actual fact, if you undertake exams whilst you are working, you’ll become a qualified chartered accountant one whole year quicker than someone who went to university.
If you have secured work with an accountancy firm and prove to be adept at using their particular software and Excel spreadsheets, there is always the chance that your line manager may recognise your talent and suggest that you pursue the appropriate qualifications to progress your career.
All and any experience within an accountancy firm will prove valuable.
More often than not, if you demonstrate reliability and enthusiasm, this will also stand you in good stead. Soft skills, such as strong interpersonal communication, are also markers of a good candidate.
You should also take the opportunity to attend any networking events, conferences or seminars that you are able to. This will give you a chance to get a deeper understanding of the market and talk to others who could provide you with career advice.
Not having a degree in accountancy should not hold you back from pursuing a career. If you have just left school or are several years in to your career, there are plenty of ways to achieve qualifications.
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