Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a degree to qualify as an accountant. In fact, you don’t even need to take specific subjects at A-Level (though some, such as A-Level Maths or Economics would be beneficial). There are several ways to qualify as an accountant that don’t require a degree, three of which will be outlined below for you.
Association of Accounting Technicians course (AAT)
An AAT qualification is the minimum you will need to get into a career in accountancy. This course will take you from the basics of accounting right to a level 4, which is the equivalent of one year of study at university. Once you have completed your level 4, you go on to become a professional member and you can use the letters MAAT in your name. Completing this qualification will make you highly employable.
The AAT also offers apprenticeships, as well as their full time course. Apprenticeships are offered at all levels of accountancy, including the opportunity to study towards a globally-recognised qualification.
Completing an Accounting Apprenticeship
Opting for a vocational course will allow a trainee accountant to earn some money, as well as practical skills, while also completing their accounting qualification. Apprenticeships can also provide a fast-track to chartered accountant status, if that is what you desire. Of course, an apprenticeship will provide you with varying levels of responsibility and job roles, which could include managing bills and expenses to payroll and taxes.
Accounting apprenticeships come in three levels; level 2 (intermediate), level 3 (advanced) and level 4+ (higher). Each level is the equivalent of a GCSE, A-Level and foundation degree/degree, respectively. As long as the candidate has left secondary school, they are eligible to enrol onto an apprenticeship. Each course takes between nine and eighteen months to complete, though some can be completed in as few as six!
Decide where you want to specialise
The final stage to qualifying as an accountant without a degree, is to decide which sector you want to specialise in; public or private, also known as financial or management accounting. Financial accounting means to work within an organisation, whereas management accounting is usually providing information for people outside of an organisation. This could be for a private company, government agency, start up business accounting and more.
Qualifying as a financial accountant is mandated by law, but management isn’t. This means everyone who qualifies as an accountant will qualify as a financial accountant, but not everyone will go one to become a management accountant. In order to become a management accountant you will need an additional qualification on top of your AAT, apprenticeship or any other qualification. You will need a qualification called a CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) to become a Chartered Management Accountant. On average, this course takes between three and four years to complete.
Hopefully, you now have a solid understanding of how you can go down the accountancy path without having to take the degree route. University isn’t for everyone, and accountancy is certainly not a career that requires you to hold a degree. Experience and relevant qualifications are just as important and hold as much value.