Want to change career to Accountancy - Please advise

Chan110Chan110 Settling In NicelyRegistered Posts: 17
Hi,

I am an IT Professional, have a degree and no experience of Accountancy.
I am thinking of taking redundancy at work and using the time/money to study AND work at junior level in accountancy.

I have looked at several career changing possibilities, but I always liked accountancy and it seems to be something that every organisation requires (boom or bust years).

So, I decided on Accountancy - but not know which route to take.
ACCA to chartered accountancy looks very expensive (self-funding) and does not seem to vocational for me to work and study at the same time (pls correct me if I have mistaken).

AAT seems more practical and more vocational - but I would need to start at Level 1.

I would like to:
1. Start studying online/distance (same thing?) whilst I am still at my current employment
2. Hopefully when I get laid-off, I would have one AAT qualification under my belt which would enable me to apply for a junior role in accountancy
3. Whilst I am at my junior role to continue my AAT until I reach MAAT
4. Hopefuly after a few more years I can acheive Chartered status.

It would be great if I can have some reality-check feedback (on above) and advice on the accountancy route:
1. Is the above do-able?
2. What is the best way to get into Accountancy career from scratch?
3. I would love to hear from those with similar background to me (change careers mid-way)!
4. I am still confused on the AAT route (NVQ/Diploma)?!!!
5. And can someone recommend the BEST and/or CHEAPEST place for online/distance learning?!!!
6 And er, if I can get some honest opinion on the pros and cons of starting in accountancy in today's current climate!

Many thks!

Comments

  • loubylouby New Member Registered Posts: 8
    i think AAT is a good route into accountancy, the final level will also give you an exemption on the first year of an accountancy degree. I would say give level 1 a miss and go straight in at level 2 as it is very very basic. i can't really answer any of your other questions but as you say accountants are always needed and seems to have plenty of jobs out there. I would look for a job in an accounts department, however basic as it will give you a distinct advantage. good luck!
  • uknittyuknitty Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 591
    1. Is the above do-able?

    Yes, but allow a time frame of about 5 years if you want to complete chartered quals. You can do AAT in 2 years and allow a further 3 for chartered.

    2. What is the best way to get into Accountancy career from scratch?

    You need to get a balance of work experience in line with the level of study you are undertaking. Voluntary work for charitable organsiations seems to be the best outlet for those who already work full time.

    3. I would love to hear from those with similar background to me (change careers mid-way)!

    Hello ! I'm a career changer. I started AAT in January 2010 and am just about to sit my final exam. I secured my first Accounts role back in July 2011, so it took lots of searching and applying to actually "get the break" but it can be done if you keep on trying and stay positive.


    4. I am still confused on the AAT route (NVQ/Diploma)?!!!

    These qualifications no longer exist. (The two different pathways were designed to meet the different needs of those working in an accounts environment and those who were not) The Diploma and NVQ qualifications were superceeded in 2010 by the new QCF framework qualification. Everyone sits the same computer based exams now.

    5. And can someone recommend the BEST and/or CHEAPEST place for online/distance learning?!!!

    There are a number of reputable distance learning providers. In no particular order Kaplan, Premier Training, Eagle Education and BPP. I study with Premier Training.

    Do not even consider Home Learning College (HLC) as they charge about 3X as much as other providers.


    6 And er, if I can get some honest opinion on the pros and cons of starting in accountancy in today's current climate!

    Incredibly Competitive- especially if you are changing careers. You will find yourself up against school leavers and recent graduates. In my experience most hiring managers looking to fill entry level/trainee roles show a preference towards candidates who have recently left education citing the fact that first/second jobbers can be "moulded". Not to say securing an entry level role can't be done (it certainly can) , but you do need to be aware that in a job market with very high youth unemployment and in which employers can get subsidised funding for candidates under a certain age you may start out at a disadvantage in the interview process owing to the fact potential employers won't be able to claim any funding for employing you (and they may be able to for other candidates) The advantages are stable career progression, opportunity to work in all sorts of sectors and environments, and for me a tremendous amount of job satisfaction. I love what I do :)

    Many thks!

    You are welcome. .
  • Chan110Chan110 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 17
    Morning

    Thanks Louby.
    That's real useful advice about starting at Level 2 (rather than Level 1).
    I have had a look at the prices and would save quite a bit of money/time if I can skip Level 1.

    Thanks to uknitty too!
    The 5 year time frame gives me some idea about planning and many thanks for the honest opinions - it looks like the studying and the job market will be a long hard path but hopefully it will be worth it in the end.

    Many thanks to both again.
  • qwertyqwerty Feels At Home Registered Posts: 82
    Think hard about skipping level one!

    I did level one, it seemed long and tedious, especially as I had just finished A Level accountancy which covered much more than AAT Level 1. However, my employers (who were paying) said they wanted me to do this.

    You said you have "a degree and no experience of accounts". I take it the degree is not accountancy related? If not, perhaps you should sit Level one, as although it is VERY basic, it is the basics of accountancy being taught, which is a good place to start for someone with no experience.

    If, however, your degree is accountancy related, perhaps you could skip level one.
  • Chan110Chan110 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 17
    Hi Qwerty,

    Thanks for your recommendation.

    I had a look at the AAT website, and tool the Skills Test.
    The results recommended me to start at Level 1.

    Having looked at the prices of the course (and being self-funded with probable redundancy money) - it is a lot of money and it would be great to skip Level 1 - I understand it would also be money well-invested for Level 1 - but I need to weigh when my redundancy money runs out too!

    So, far I have an email from AAT helpdesk and a reply here recommending myself to go straight to Level 2.
    But, yourself with A-Level in Acountancy recommending Level 1, has made me re-think maybe I do need Level 1......and yes, my degree is non-Accountancy related.

    Being money-conscious, do you really think Level 1 is absolutely necessary?
    Are the benefits just down to giving me a firm footing (or would future employer see a candidate with Level 1+2 more attractive than with just Level 2 and no working experience)?

    Many thanks again!
  • zaf1987zaf1987 Well-Known Registered Posts: 124
    Chan110 wrote: »
    Hi Qwerty,

    Thanks for your recommendation.

    I had a look at the AAT website, and tool the Skills Test.
    The results recommended me to start at Level 1.

    Having looked at the prices of the course (and being self-funded with probable redundancy money) - it is a lot of money and it would be great to skip Level 1 - I understand it would also be money well-invested for Level 1 - but I need to weigh when my redundancy money runs out too!

    So, far I have an email from AAT helpdesk and a reply here recommending myself to go straight to Level 2.
    But, yourself with A-Level in Acountancy recommending Level 1, has made me re-think maybe I do need Level 1......and yes, my degree is non-Accountancy related.

    Being money-conscious, do you really think Level 1 is absolutely necessary?
    Are the benefits just down to giving me a firm footing (or would future employer see a candidate with Level 1+2 more attractive than with just Level 2 and no working experience)?

    Many thanks again!


    Hi in my opinion, (as someone who had no accountancy experience and started in december,), start level 2, level 1 is pointless, its just one exam. no need. you will find level two fine. you could if you wanted start on level 3 but i wouldnt.

    Ive done basic costing exam - Really easy, and now have booked basic accounting 1 and 2.

    I honestly think if you dont have a job and are studying you can do aat level 2 in 1-2 months, im on course to have it done in 4-5 months whilst working full time and finishing my law degree.

    Just my opinion although many more experienced posters on this forum than me
  • uknittyuknitty Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 591
    I started at level 2 as level 1 didn't exist when I started out. In terms of level of difficultly level 2 is generally compared to being GCSE, level 3 as being 2 X A Levels and Level 4 a Foundation degree.

    I think if you have a degree and are used to studying (even if it was a while ago!)then it won't be that hard for you to get your head in to level 2.

    I'd suggest that you order the BA1 books direct from Osborne

    http://www.osbornebooks.co.uk/basic_accounting_1_tutorial_second_edition

    and

    http://www.osbornebooks.co.uk/basic_accounting_1_workbook_second_edition

    see what you make of the course material before you make a decision.
  • Chan110Chan110 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 17
    Thks zaf1987,

    This is where I am still confused....what does Level 1 entail and what does Level 2 entail?

    Have you done Level 1 (basic costing exam?)?
    If Level 1 is pointless, is Basic Accounting 1 and 2 - AAT Level 1 and Level 2?

    I am really confused about which is Level 1 and which is Level 2!

    Can you briefly explain what is in Level 1 and what is in Level 2 (module/exams etc)?
    I can't even make head or tails from the AAT site or the colleges that offer online AAT courses (or is this just me)?

    Sorry to being so thick-headed!
    But all advise most welcome!
  • Chan110Chan110 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 17
    Thanks uknitty!

    I will check those links out!
    Er, BA1 books?
    Do you suggest I read into Basic Accounting 1 (? I assume BA1) myself and just dive into a Level 2 online course?

    Thanks
    PS: I have also PM you!
  • uknittyuknitty Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 591
    Yes. Look at Basic Accounting 1 and get a feel for the material. It will only cost you about £20 to buy the books and if you don't think you can manage it on your own then consider paying for tutor support if you are struggling.
  • zaf1987zaf1987 Well-Known Registered Posts: 124
    Chan110 wrote: »
    Thks zaf1987,

    This is where I am still confused....what does Level 1 entail and what does Level 2 entail?

    Have you done Level 1 (basic costing exam?)?
    If Level 1 is pointless, is Basic Accounting 1 and 2 - AAT Level 1 and Level 2?

    I am really confused about which is Level 1 and which is Level 2!

    Can you briefly explain what is in Level 1 and what is in Level 2 (module/exams etc)?
    I can't even make head or tails from the AAT site or the colleges that offer online AAT courses (or is this just me)?

    Sorry to being so thick-headed!
    But all advise most welcome!

    It can seem confusing, I thought it was still teh diploma/nvq when i was going to start.

    Level 2 - assumes you have no prior knowledge of accounting.

    You learn double entry, credits, debits, ledger accounts etc. so basics
    basic costing is simple like costs, inventory, expenses, etc.
    and basics accounting 2 is ba1 plus little bit more.

    in level 2 you do following

    basic costing (bccg)
    basic accounting 1
    basic accounting 2
    and computerised accounting
  • Chan110Chan110 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 17
    Thanks uknitty!

    Thanks zaf1987!
    Does that mean I just need to signup for:
    - BCCG
    - BA1
    - BA2
    - Comp a/c
    ...to gain my AAT Level 2?

    Wait - am confused again!
    uknitty, so BA1 is NOT Level 1 then?
    If I struggle with BA1 then I should signup for AAT Level 1?
  • uknittyuknitty Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 591
    Here is a link to a description of level 1 from the website of thetraining provider I use.

    http://www.premiertraining.co.uk/courses/aat_diploma/AATAccesslevel1homestudycoursewithPremierTraining.htm

    It is really aimed at people who do not have much experience at all with IT and working in a business environment.

    The units for the entire qualification are currently as follows

    Level 1
    Mathematics for accounting
    Accounting in a professional environment
    Essential accounting procedures
    Creating business documents

    Level 2
    Basic Accounting 1
    Basic Accounting 2
    Basic Costing
    Working Effectively in Accounting and Finance
    Computerised Accounts.

    Level 3
    Accounts Preparation 1
    Accounts Prepartion 2
    Cash Management
    Costs and Revenues
    Indirect Tax
    Spreadsheets
    Professional Ethics

    Level 4
    Financial Statements
    Financial Performance
    Budgeting
    Internal Control and Accounting Systems

    Plus any two of the following 4 optional units

    Personal Tax
    Business Tax
    External Auditing
    Credit Control


    Hope this makes the structure of the qualification a bit easier for you to follow.

    ETA Not received a PM from you :)
  • Chan110Chan110 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 17
    Great! Thks uknitty!

    Once, I gather more info from where others are studying (or recommend) then I will signup for Level2.
    Is there any particular order for each level?
    If not, which module is best to start with (BA, BC, a/c+finance or Comp a/c)?

    I have PM u again (though u may have answered most it now...but please add anything more please!)
  • Jason1984Jason1984 New Member Registered Posts: 6
    I'm planning to change my career to Accountancy as well. Acccording to the Skills Test I should start at Level 2 so now I'm just trying to finance it.

    Best of luck Chan110.
  • Chan110Chan110 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 17
    Thks Jason!

    U are on a better footing than I am - the skills test told me to go for Level 1!!!
    But, I am starting on Level 2 anyway...
  • AmyCAmyC Registered Posts: 1
    Hi Chan110

    Interested on how you have got on five years later, thinking of a career change myself and following the same path, any guidance at all?
  • readerreader Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,035
    AmyC said:

    Hi Chan110



    Interested on how you have got on five years later, thinking of a career change myself and following the same path, any guidance at all?

    Don't do it!

    Your job will be replaced by a robot/automation in 5 - 10 years time.

    I'm planning on getting out of accountancy (perhaps go into teaching) within the next 5 - 10 years.

    The pay in accountancy is also really bad at junior levels.
  • BertieBertie West Midlands Registered Posts: 376
    Do it.

    Accountants will be just as valuable in the future as they are now.

    Forget the cloud and MTD tosh. Those that can will, those that can not will be replaced with a temp, nevermind a robot.

    Automation is good, it takes away the bore of the mundane.

    Those that forward think and appreciate technology are the business people of not only tomorrow but next week too.
  • gwenbgwenb MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 42
    People's experiences are so varied and contradicting when someone's after advice as to which route to take....
    my advice to you Chan would be to make sure you are ready to commit to accountancy: to me, it's an evolving profession in terms of the constant learning you are expected to do. Bookkeeping can be automated up to a point but companies, charities and sole traders will always need accountants. Also, from AAT you can go into ACCA, CIMA or ATT. Varied choices depending on your career aims.

    I have seen people changing careers dramatically and starting at level 2 without any knowledge of accountancy whatsoever. They struggled in most cases, they left midway and others flourished. It's very personal, some get concepts and procedures faster and better than others.

    As for prices, I found that colleges offer very good rates, obviously nothing as cheap as online courses but I liked the idea of focusing completely on the course for a full day rather than doing it at odd hours in front of a computer. Again, it's a personal choice. I would also recommend you apply for a Student loan if you're going to do AAT. It's a simple process and the rates are really low.

    Best of luck on your decision making process :)
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