How to get into accounting

Goldfish jumping from one bowl to bigger bowl

Changing careers isn’t as unusual as it used to be. It’s now very common for people to change paths multiple times throughout their lives.

Employers are also starting to value different skill sets and people coming from different backgrounds. The industry is evolving and it’s easier than ever to get into accountancy, whether you’ve worked in sales for the past 10 years or changing direction at 50.

Is a career change on the horizon for you? Whether you’ve lost enthusiasm for your current job, or you’ve taken it as far as it can go. We’re answering your questions on how to get into accounting as your next career opportunity.

What qualifications do I need?

There’s a myth that all accountants are maths geniuses and you’ll need a degree to practice – but this isn’t the case.

AAT stands for the Association of Accounting Technicians. These qualifications are globally recognised, and offer strong job prospects in a range of industries.

To start AAT Level 2, you don’t need any previous qualifications or relevant experience – just enthusiasm to learn. Anyone can start the qualification. Of course, you must have a good standard of English literacy and basic maths skills.

If you have your heart set on chartered accountancy, ACCA can get you there. An ACCA qualification can open doors to great careers and amazing salaries across the world.

ACCA levels range from just starting out in finance to being an expert. So if you think this is the path for you, you can kick off with the ACCA Diploma in Accounting and Business with no experience. This foundation level begins at GCSE level and goes up to the equivalent of the first year of a bachelor’s degree.

How long does it take to become an accountant?

This largely depends on whether you choose to get qualified in AAT or ACCA. Eagle distance learning courses mean you can study either of these qualifications alongside your existing job.

It takes most people 2 -3 years to complete AAT with consistent studying. Level 2 is considered the easiest and equivalent to a GCSE. Level 4 is the most difficult level and is equivalent to the first year of an accounting degree. With Eagle we support you to study at a pace that suits you.

The ACCA qualification can take up to 10 years to finish, but don’t worry – most people manage to complete it in 4 years. The Foundation units of the qualification can take students anywhere from 6 months to 3 years to complete. When you move onto the Professional units, these can take between 2 and a half to 3 years.

Where can I get accounting experience?

It’s a daunting task trying to get your foot in the door – particularly for your first finance role! It can be a fierce job market, but there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance of success.

Create your own network of contacts. Even before you’re qualified, learn to sell yourself and invest time in building up a bank of online and offline contacts. A great way to do this is through LinkedIn and face-to-face career events.

Don’t underestimate entry-level jobs. If you’re considering a career change, hopefully you’ve considered the financial implications that this may bring. Although it might not be the dream job (or the dream salary), working as a bookkeeper or accounts assistant whilst you study could be the key to landing your first accountant role. The skills and experience you get will help you work your way up the finance ladder.

Speaking of working your way up – if you have some time to spare, see if you can get a volunteer role. If you have enough financial support, there are charities, small companies and businesses that need their books to be done, which will give you that hands-on experience.

How do I finance my career change?

It’s a tough one to consider – whether uprooting your job is worth the time and the cost. The good news is that there are training providers like Eagle that help you transition into accountancy as your next career.

By studying through distance learning, you can complete the qualifications you need to become an accountant in your own time. You can kick off your journey whilst you’re still working at your old job, meaning you don’t have to stop earning.

Studying with Eagle, you’re free to choose how often you want to pay, and for how long. You can choose to pay monthly, quarterly or annually and you can cancel as soon as you’ve passed.
So no more paying out lump sums, or being tied into credit agreements for your learning.

Let’s go

Are you ready to take the next step? Download our brochure for more information on accountancy, qualifications and how to get started studying.