AAT or ACCA? Which one should I choose?

Yellow door and blue door

When looking at accounting qualifications, these are probably the two you’re going to come across most often.

But it can be hard to work out which one suits you best. It all depends on your experience and career aspirations, so we’ve laid out a few differences and comparisons to help you decide.

What is AAT?

AAT stands for The Association of Accounting Technicians. This qualification is your first step into accounting, and one of the main qualities you need to begin the course is enthusiasm.

What is ACCA?

ACCA stands for The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. This qualification 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, have done AAT or have extensive experience in the industry.

You can start at Foundation level with no experience or qualifications, but you might want to consider AAT if you’re at this point.

What careers can I expect from AAT and ACCA?

AAT is ideal for aspiring accounting technicians, as well as bookkeepers. Roles you could be considered for after completing AAT include:

  • Assistant Financial Accountant
  • Junior Commercial Analyst
  • Assistant Fixed Asset Accountant
  • Payroll Manager


Most people earn between £13,000 and £26,000 after becoming fully AAT qualified. However the kinds of roles you will be suitable for, as well as your potential salary, will change with experience as you move through your career.

ACCA prepares you for more advanced roles, such as:

  • Personal Banker
  • Financial Analyst
  • Tax Manager
  • Forensic Accountant


The full ACCA qualification is considered equivalent to a master’s degree, and those who have achieved it can rise to top positions, such as Chief Financial Officer.

What’s the difference in length of study?

To become fully AAT qualified usually takes 18 months, but does depend on how you’re wanting to study.

ACCA takes a minimum of three years, because you need at least 3 years’ work experience before you can become an ACCA member. Most people take a little longer so they can fit in their exams and work experience.

Quick look

First steps into accountingFor those who are already accountants
No qualifications needed to startQualifications, AAT or experience required
Technical levelProfessional level
Optional work experienceCompulsory 3 year work experience
Expected salary on qualification approx. £26,000Expected salary on qualification approx. £31,000+
Job roles include: Assistant Financial Accountant, Junior Commercial AnalystJob roles include: Forensic Accountant, Financial Analyst

If you’d like to find out more, check out our AAT and ACCA pages.

Hopefully this has helped with your decision, but if you would like any more advice please get in touch.