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Accounting and finance staff keep track of the money that comes in and goes out of a business. As an accountant, you could be preparing financial records to present for audit, overseeing tax and VAT submissions, and wages. Many accountants work across a range of different industries, whilst others specialise in a particular sector.

Average salary*




How to become an accountant

There are several routes to becoming an accountant. You can gain the qualifications you need by doing a university or college course, or an apprenticeship. If you already have relevant experience you may be able to apply directly to an employer or train on the job.

You should explore these routes to becoming an accountant to find out which is the right one for you. Whichever route you follow, you must have an interest and ability to deal with numbers.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.

University/graduate training scheme

You could complete a degree in accountancy, finance, economics or another relevant subject. You will need 3 A levels (or equivalent), including maths, to do an undergraduate degree. Afterwards, you may be able to get a job on a company’s graduate trainee scheme. 

College/training provider

You don’t need a degree to become an accountant or accounts assistant. Instead, you could complete a foundation certificate or an advanced or professional diploma through The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). Courses take 6 - 18 months to complete.

You won’t need formal qualifications to do a foundation course. You may need GCSEs or A levels (or equivalent) for advanced and professional diplomas. 


If you are aged between 16 and 24 you may be eligible for a traineeship. This is a short course (2 weeks - 6 months) which helps you to gain work experience in your chosen role.


An apprenticeship with an accountancy firm is a good way into the industry. 

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

An intermediate accountancy apprenticeship takes around two years to complete. For this, you will need GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths.


If you have relevant qualifications and experience you may be able to apply for a job directly and continue training part-time to become fully qualified. 

You could do this with a professional accountancy body such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) or Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining work within the industry. This could have been gained at school or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works in accountancy. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as an accounts assistant include:

  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Good grasp of numeracy
  • Excellent organisational abilities.


What does an accountant do?

As an accountant, you will be responsible for managing finances and cash flow for the company. Duties may include using specialist software and understanding the requirements of the business you are working in. 

The job role of an accountant involves the following duties:  

  • Managing cash flow
  • Keeping records of all transactions
  • Creating, updating and analysing spreadsheets
  • Producing financial reports and profit forecasts
  • Working with specialist accounting software
  • Processing paperwork such as invoices and VAT returns
  • Assisting with financial planning and budget control
  • Liaising with external suppliers, banks and auditors
  • Working in an office.

How much could you earn as an accountant?

The expected salary for an accountant varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained accountants can earn £17,000 - £25,000
  • Trained accountants with some experience can earn £29,000 - £55,000
  • Senior or chartered accountants can earn £60,000 - £80,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. Salaries and career options improve with chartered status.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest accountant vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

You may start off as a trainee or accounts assistant and work your way up to a junior or assistant accountant whilst you are part qualified.

Once you are a fully qualified accountant, you could become a senior accountant or work in management and earn a higher salary. Eventually, you could become a finance director. 

You will improve your career prospects by becoming chartered through the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). You’ll need to have three years’ work experience in a relevant role to enrol. It usually takes three to four years to qualify fully. 

As an accountant, you could work in the public or private sector. You may choose to specialise in one area of accountancy such as business or property.

You could become self-employed and work freelance.

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