Train as an accountant at 44, don't make me laugh!

Stan Bown
Stan Bown Registered Posts: 39 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐

I'm starting this thread out of sheer frustration with trying to get my first 'proper' accounting job at the age of 44. I've seen letters in the mag, so I know I'm not alone in trying to make a career change later in life. Would very much welcome comments and experiences from others.

I qualified Technician this year and have started ACCA - funding myself. I've got extensive experience in marketing communications with some general management and project management. I was getting more responsibility and less satisfaction in that career and got addicted to double-entry (!) during my AAT intermediate; so I decided to make the break last April, 2008.

Whilst it is true that I have worked in a finance support role since then, a reasonably complex one, and I have another four-week contract lined up, again in a finance support role, for love nor money I cannot seem to get a job where I am required to post debits and credits.

I am registered with five agencies - all finance and accounting agencies - but have not yet been offered a ledger job. The jobs I am usually presented with are kind of problem solving roles but really don't require any knowledge of accountancy.

I appreciated the temp market is just that, a market where you are in competition with many others for well defined job specs but I am finding it hard to accept that with AAT Technician and loads of experience of working with customers, internal and external, I cannot get a basic ledger clerk job.

I don't even think age is the main factor, I think it is more that as an unknown quantity, that doesn't fit neatly into a mould, you pose a potential risk to employers.

I'm not giving up, by the way; I've come this far, love the subject and have good references from what I've done so far. But, it's taking a long time and I felt the need to share the frustration. And hopefully get some fellow-traveller motivation from any responses posted.

If you are in the same boat, first of all don't give up, either; secondly, share your experiences on this thread. Lets see if we generate some new approaches to getting where we want to be.

All the best



  • sarahwilson
    sarahwilson Registered Posts: 567
    Good for you Stan, your thread has really given me a kick up the bum. I'm 31 and have almost finished intermediate. I was feeling sorry for myself this week thinking I've left it too late to start this accounting lark but your thread has really given me boost.

    Thank you and good luck:001_smile:
  • RichardH
    RichardH Registered Posts: 5 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    You're never too old

    You are never too old to learn new tricks!

    I think it is good that you are both studying AAT in what is perhaps a second career. You are not the first and you are no alone.

    Well done to you both
  • pinksponk
    pinksponk Registered Posts: 57 💫 🐯 💫
    Im 49 and decided that if Im too old to be employed in a practice or suchlike, I will bloody well be a member in practice.

    I too qualified this year and I want to work in the finance field. Ill do it by myself
  • farmergiles
    farmergiles Registered Posts: 1,693
    I'm 56 and haven't quite finished Technician, need to resit PTC & DFS, if I can find the time. I lost my regular employment in July but I am getting bits and bats coming in for clients. Keeps me busy. I also got asked to teach basic book keeping at my college(they were desperate lol) so I'm now training as a teacher as well. Just goes to prove that age is No barrier.
    Good luck, Stan, hope things work out.

  • welshwizard
    welshwizard Registered Posts: 465
    Hey I can relate to that!

    I ended up attaining Technician in June this year and now I'm on a PGCE training to teach accountancy to ...... AAT students!

    I couldn't get a job for love nor money - so I decided to stay in the safe, warm, caring environment of college and be a student (again) away from the nasty realities of everyday 'working' life. I am glad I did too as I think the 2 years training could take me past the worst of the recession and, with people looking to retrain for new careers, there may be jobs out there for newly qualified teaching-type peeps like me.

    Good luck with ACCA - you will certainly have deserved everything you get from the end result because of your hard work - you have also got one thing on your side - motivation - many do these qualifications because they have to as they are a condition of service - you are doing it because you want to.

    Good luck - keep giving us over 40s a good name.
  • Gianni
    Gianni Registered Posts: 99 💫 🐯 💫
    I think a lot of the time employers are probably thinking you're overqualified for a 'ledger job' or you would want more pay than they are prepared to offer. A lot of people apply for jobs at the lower level expecting upward progression very quickly and I imagine they feel you'd want the same. A few years ago when I was just starting I applied for admin roles but passed myself off as wanting the accounts role just to get my foot in the door!

    I'm 23, but at 21 I was promoted to a finance manager position. I had to take on 2 staff (the company was in turmoil and a lot of staff left, luckily it's fine now!), they were both around 30 years of age. I found the girl I took on was fine and she did everything very well and listened. But the guy found it difficult to take instruction, mainly because of my age from what I could gather. I tried to support him and I understood how he may feel but he wouldn't have it. I think employers interviewing you may have the same concerns so it could be worth mentioning this in an interview / covering letter stating it wouldn't be a problem.
  • Stan Bown
    Stan Bown Registered Posts: 39 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    May the force be with you all. I didn't imagine I was alone but it's good to hear from others. Interesting point, Gianni.

  • feldon
    feldon Registered Posts: 7 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    Hi Stan, I'm 41 and just started the intermediate level, got lots of experience of doing my own accounts / bookkeeping when I had my own business. Just a thought but have you thought of setting up on your own, you could start by just offering bookkeeping and build on that. I know what you mean with regards to employment agency's, I've just landed a role as a probate accounts assisatant, but it has taken me weeks to even get an accountancy related job, and even then its not mainstream accounts, but I am intending to start up on my own, just had an enquiry tonight to do someones bookkeeping, small Ltd company doing mail order products, I got that by placing small adverts in Post Offices around the area.

    Anyway best of luck, its nice to know there are others out there in the same boat.


  • Stan Bown
    Stan Bown Registered Posts: 39 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    Starting up on your own

    Hi Richard, thanks for the reply. I have thought about starting on my own, and have even chosen a company name and set up a bank account in that name but haven't progressed it further. I guess I haven't been that sure how to go about it and haven't had much time to think it through.

    Your straightforward approach seems like a good way forward, though, and it's something I may emulate. I think it's wise to start small - and just cover what you're competent at - as although I enjoy the taxation side of things, I don't yet feel qualified to offer this as a business service.

    All the best with your studies and business.

  • A-Vic
    A-Vic Registered Posts: 6,970
    Hi Stan

    Speaking as a person involved a few times in recrutement within the firm am working, i will say if you put it across that you dont expect to be treated any differently due to your age and that you are prepaired to learn and start from the bottom but can bring it a wealth of experience that someone half your age could not bring it be a really good selling point.

    The other aspect you have to look at is you do already have experience and when i first went for interviews myself thats all i heard, and it took ages for someone to give me a chance.

    Age is just a number after all.

    Good luck for the future :thumbup1:
  • Stan Bown
    Stan Bown Registered Posts: 39 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    Hi A-Vic

    That's a great point to emphasise when speaking to prospective employers and agencies, as I am truly happy to take direction from those more knowledgeable, whatever their age, and know that I am starting at the bottom.

    It's similar to one of the points Gianni made earlier in the thread, so it does look like there is a theme to this potential concern to employers (older employees being managed by younger people).


  • Carlbl
    Carlbl Registered Posts: 6 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    Hi Stan,

    I completed AAT in February this year, but i am only 30.

    I have been in my employment for 5years 4 months and started as a clerk, with no previous experience of working in an office let alone actual accounts. Previous job was as a car valeter.

    I was lucky enough to get this job, my employer has paid all AAT fees inc subscription, is paying all CIMA fees and i am now the accounts supervisor, responsible for producing the management accounts (monthly) and everything which goes before it.

    Wanted to wish you luck


  • Stan Bown
    Stan Bown Registered Posts: 39 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    Hi Carl

    Thanks. I've actually just scored my first 'proper' accounts job, working in accounts payable in the energy sector; it's only taken me seven months!
    So it looks like I may be on my way. Perseverance is the key. And enough money to live on while you start at the bottom again.

    Kind regards

  • A-Vic
    A-Vic Registered Posts: 6,970
    Stan Bown wrote: »
    Hi Carl

    Thanks. I've actually just scored my first 'proper' accounts job, working in accounts payable in the energy sector; it's only taken me seven months!
    So it looks like I may be on my way. Perseverance is the key. And enough money to live on while you start at the bottom again.

    Kind regards


    Hi Stan

    Thats really good news congratulations and all the best in your new postion.:thumbup1:
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