Should I gain work experience before Level 3?

I'm about to complete my Level 2 in December but I have no accounting experience, I have read somewhere that I should postpone going onto do Level 3 until I have found an entry level position as I will be over qualified, is this really the case?

I have worked in retail management for the past 8 years but really want to set myself up as a self employed bookkeeper and then possibly go on to become chartered. I really want to get on and complete Level 3 as soon as possible but I don't want to make myself unemployable.

Any other tips on how I can get from Retail Manager to self employed bookkeeper are welcome?


  • ChristianB
    ChristianB Registered Posts: 197 Epic contributor 🐘
    edited October 2014
    Hi @rjatkinson83

    It’s great to get experience in the finance and accounting sector as soon as possible! Many students apply for their first role before, during and after Level 3 so don’t worry about being overqualified.

    I’d advise you read these two threads. The first recommends job roles you are suited for after completing Level 2. The second answers the question: Should I look a job while studying AAT, or wait until after?

    As for what you do after AAT: Many of our members go on to be self-employed and it’s one of the main advantages of studying with AAT. We have a member in practice (MIP) scheme which you can read about here.

    One thing I will mention is that to be a MIP you need to be a full member of AAT (MAAT). To be a full member you need to pass Level 4 and demonstrate that you can meet our work experience criteria. This is why it’s important to get a relevant job in the industry as soon as possible, so you can start to build up your experience portfolio.

    Let’s say you got a job in the industry now. By the time you start Level 4, you might already have enough experience to qualify as MAAT so we could process your application as soon as you pass your final Level 4 unit!

    As for becoming chartered: Most chartered bodies offer exemptions for AAT members, so if you become qualified with us you can start your chartered journey one step ahead.

    I appreciate this is a lot of information to digest at once! If you have any further questions, we’ll do our best to answer them here but you might also want to sign up to our live Facebook Q&A on progressing to full membership. It’s called #MAATchat and will take part in December.

    Kind regards
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  • rjatkinson83
    rjatkinson83 Registered Posts: 2
    Thanks Christian, I will take a look at those. I would still be interested to hear if any people in my position have found over qualification for entry level positions to be an issue?
  • ChristianB
    ChristianB Registered Posts: 197 Epic contributor 🐘
    edited October 2014
    Obviously I can't speak from personal experience but this isn't an issue I've seen spoken about en masse by our members.

    I suppose if you were to start Level 3 and you were unable to find a job as you received feedback that specifically said it was because you were overqualified, you could always not mention that you're studying for your Level 3 diploma on your CV and only mention the Level 2 certificate?

    I'll leave this one for our members to answer!
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  • ariadne
    ariadne Registered Posts: 218
    I don't yet have the experience of job hunting yet but I am going with view that AAT is probably worthwhile doing prior to gaining employment. Being able to demonstrate you can understand the basic concepts must be a big bonus for a prospective employer and it demonstrates independence and motivation. I don't think L3 will be a bad thing to start, there are some new basic skills you will learn that should be valuable for an employer who won't have to teach you instead, like VAT returns. I've seen very few entry level jobs advertised, except apprenticeships anyway. Perhaps posting this in the members area will get some employer perspectives as well as self employed experiences. I'm also thinking I will contact local practices to ask about this sort of thing, see if I can spend a day shadowing or do an internship or work experience placement. Another thing you could do is contact your employer's head office and see if you can do a day in their accounts department.

    I'm going to carry on with level four alongside trying to get work experience, but that's partly because I can't look for full time employment for another couple of years due to childcare.
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