How to become an accountant

A notpad and an alarm clock with two bells


If you have a love of numbers and an analytical mind, then accountancy could be a good fit.

Accounting is often considered ‘boring’ or ‘dry’ by people outside the industry, but the reality is it can be a fulfilling and lucrative career.

You don’t need a degree to be an accountant, but you do need an accountancy qualification. There are a few different qualifications to consider. Some need experience, and some don’t.

AAT is the usual route for those starting out, as you don’t need any prior knowledge of accounting.

Choose the right accounting qualification

We offer two qualifications at Eagle, so feel free to choose the one that suits you best:

AAT – Association of Accounting Technicians

This is made up of three qualifications, over three levels: Foundation, Advanced and Professional. They each combine industry knowledge and practical work skills.

This is particularly suited to those who are starting out or taking their first steps into the accountancy profession.

ACCA – Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

This has two levels – Foundation and Professional.

Foundation teaches you the fundamentals of accounting, and is ideal if you’re new to accountancy. It is also relevant if you already work in accountancy but don’t have any formal qualifications.

Professional is for those who are already in accounting and is broken down into Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills and Strategic Professional. It is a very intense course and regarded as a higher level than the AAT qualification. It also can lead to full chartered status.

Bide your time – consider how long it will take

With the AAT qualification most people take six to twelve months to complete each level – so you could complete the whole qualification in 18 months, or take up to three years.

The ACCA qualification is made up of two levels – up to nine units at Foundation level and up to 13 units at Professional. You can take up to 10 years to do the whole qualification, but most people manage to complete it in four years.

The first set of Foundation units often take between six months and three years to complete, while the Professional units usually take between 2.5 – 3 years.

Once qualified, find your specialism

Accountancy isn’t just one job. It’s actually a career that can be incredibly varied. Simply put, accounting careers can be split into two areas: management accounting and financial accounting. Within these there are specialist fields:

  • Business recovery and insolvency
  • Corporate finance
  • Tax
  • Forensic accounting
  • Auditing
  • Chartered accountant

Be mindful of the difference between management accounting and financial accounting

Management accounting provides information to people within a company, while financial accounting provides information to those outside of it, such as shareholders.

Unlike financial accounting, management accounting is not required by law and only covers particular products, while financial accounting covers the entire organisation.

And you can choose between working in the public or private sector, or become a freelance accountant. It’s up to you.

Want to be an accountant?

So, think you’d like to be an accountant? Want to know more? Feel free to check out our AAT and ACCA pages to find out more.

And feel free to read our blog to find out how much an accountant can earn.