Going from AAT to ACCA – what to consider

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If you’re near the end of your AAT qualification, or if you finished it a while ago, it might be the right time to move on to ACCA. But what should you think about before you make the leap? 

Here are some things to think about to help you make that decision.

What is the difference between AAT and ACCA?

AAT is your first step into accounting, and all you need to begin the course is enthusiasm. The level 2 Certificate in Accounting will give you the basic accounting skills and knowledge, from costing and double-entry bookkeeping to computerised accounting.

ACCA is aimed at those with some previous qualifications. To start Applied Knowledge level, you will need to have at least two A levels and three GCSEs. The Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills levels of ACCA start at a more advanced level than AAT. Its coverage is both broad and deep, focusing in detail on topics including Financial Accounting, Corporate and Business Law, and Performance Management.

Going from AAT to ACCA

Once you’ve completed AAT Professional Diploma (level 4) you can go on to do ACCA and become a chartered accountant. ACCA is considered a much harder qualification to achieve, but the rewards are well worth the effort. 

You will also be eligible for ACCA exam exemptions once AAT qualified. You won’t need to sit Accountant in Business (AB – previously known as F1), Management Accounting (MA – previously F2), or Financial Accounting (FA – previously F3).

How hard are ACCA exams?

The ACCA exams are demanding, and increase in difficulty as you go through the syllabus. If you start ACCA once AAT qualified, therefore exempt from the first three exams, the standard of the first ACCA exam is set at the level of a UK Bachelors degree. The Professional Level exams are set at a Masters degree level.

But don’t worry – because you’ve completed the ATT qualification, you will have a really strong base to build on, and to develop through the ACCA qualification.

So should I do ACCA?

In the end it’s entirely up to you, but there are some things to consider. ACCA will take up a lot of your free time, so you’ll need to consider if you can really commit to it. 

You will also need to do 3 years’ work experience – this will be easy if you’re already in a relevant accounting or finance role, but worth considering if you’re not quite in the right position.

The other thing to consider is where you want your career, and salary, to go. If you’re wanting a large salary with most doors open to you, then ACCA is the way forward. You could be looking at a salary over £100,000 once qualified and a few years’ experience. With AAT you’re looking at around £30,000.

Need more help to decide?

Have a look at our ACCA pages for more information about the qualification, what’s involved, and how it might work for you. If you have any questions or need some more advice, get in touch via our online enquiry form or by calling us on 01978 722511.