The Books Begin Here: Becoming an Accountant in the UK

If you have a head for numbers and methodical approach to work then accountancy could be the career path for you. There are plenty of opportunities for promotion and career development in accounting, and you’ll earn a more than respectable salary. Read on for a guide to gaining the right qualifications, forging a career and prospects within the Scottish jobs market.

Making the cut
You’ll need to get qualified and prove you’re good with numbers to work in accountancy jobs in Scotland or England. This starts with GCSEs. You’ll need at least five, but the more the better, including a high grade in maths. Entry requirements to different kinds of accountancy courses vary, but you’ll typically need at least two solid A-levels. Naturally, one of these must be in maths. If you’re wondering which other subjects will give you a decent start, consider IT and business. Accountancy work is done digitally these days, so you’ll need excellent computer literacy, particularly in Excel, and you’re likely to be working with businesses, which makes it useful to understand how they work.

In terms of other skills, accountancy is also about building business relationships with clients. A professional manor and ability to communicate, work and interact well with people is a must because the chances are you’ll be in a client-facing role.

After A-levels you’ll need to complete a course of further education, which takes three to four years. The Institute of Chartered Accountants offers a range of courses across the UK and qualifications are recognized worldwide. If your academic record isn’t as strong as you’d like to be, you can do accounting technician’s course and work your way up the ranks.

Setting on the career path
There are accountancy firms both small and large across the UK, but if you want to work for one of the really big firms then you’ll need to be based in London or Edinburgh. Perhaps you’d like to work for a smaller firm, which would provide you with more flexibility regarding where you can work. Demand for accountants in Scotland appears to be increasing, and there’s growth in the Practice Accountancy market.

You could work within a number of sectors through accountancy including banking and capital markets, in which accountants can earn the highest salaries. Alternatively you could work in the public sector, for a large firm doing auditing work or even set up your own business.

What you can earn
Earnings when starting out in accountancy depend on qualifications. If you’ve graduated in accountancy, you your first annual salary is likely to be somewhere in the region of 25,000. Research by Stott and May in 2012 revealed that accountants can expect to be earning an average of £85,000 six to nine years after qualifying. One of the main attractions of accountancy is the salary, which tends to rise steadily every year as you gain experience and get promoted.

Accountancy is a steady career path with plenty of financial rewards. Anyone who enjoys crunching numbers and is proficient with computers may well be in their ideal professional if they take on an accountancy role.

Adrian Olsen is a qualified accountant and tax advisor and provides these services to a number of SMEs.

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