Getting Into Accounting

Hello everyone,

Just wondering whether you could share your knowledge and experiences of getting into accounting. I am a recent graduate of Sheffield Hallam University where I achieved a 2:1 in Mathematics. Since graduating I have had various roles from working with disabled children, bar work and more recently in an office doing admin work. I am desperate to begin a career in accounting but have been unsuccessful thus far with applications.

I am now considering studying the aat from home and paying for it myself. Will this give me the extra boost I need when applying for jobs? How much can I expect to pay and where is best to do said course?

Sorry for the mass of questions, any help is greatly appreciated.



  • Gem7321
    Gem7321 Experienced Mentor DevonMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,438
    What sort of positions have you been applying for? I think you would be best applying for trainee positions with larger practices who run graduate schemes, it is likely they will then support your study.
  • JYOUNG88
    JYOUNG88 Registered Posts: 4
    I have been applying to both small and large firms offering graduate schemes with no luck as of yet. That's why I am curious if I do start the AAT qualification will this give me the advantage I need to obtain a graduate job?

    I have read that the AAT level 2 can be completed without a training provider, simply buy the text books and register for the exams when you feel prepared. Is this feasible?
  • Gem7321
    Gem7321 Experienced Mentor DevonMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,438
    Are you getting to interview stage or not? If not I'd suggest having someone take a look at your CV.
  • StuartW
    StuartW Online Community Manager LondonRegistered Posts: 472
    Hi @JYOUNG88

    AAT's student membership increasingly comprises people in a similar situation to you, who are looking for a career change. Not to generalise, but often people with solid work experience behind them - and a few years to decide what they really want to do - are the students who are best placed to succeed with AAT.

    Prices of training providers vary, and it would be best to call around to see how much they charge but also what their packages include. You might also want to search these forums for opinions of different training providers.

    To find out what AAT training providers are in your area, and the distance learning providers we work with, try the Find an AAT training provider tool.

    If you decide to go down the distance learning route, again, search for what people have to say about providers here and also join this member-run AAT distance learning Facebook group.

    One thing I would say is that whichever route you choose, try to get accounting work experience while you're studying, even if it's unpaid/voluntary work - experience plus the qualification is what employers are looking for.

    Hope that's some help!
  • Clayy1990
    Clayy1990 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 35
    Hi, Just thought i'd share my thoughts. I was a care worker until 21 when i decided i needed to pursue a career. I only had GCSE's behind me and decided to self study the AAT. I took out the Level 2 & 3 Courses with the Home Learning College which cost me upward of £3000 and completed Level 4 at a local college at the cost of £1000. Add on top of this the exam fees/AAT Membership and i'd say you're looking at about £5000 from start to finish, although it could be done cheaper if you shopped around and maybe completed some modules with no Tutor support.

    On the jobs front i initially found it very difficult to get my foot in the door. I was applying for 10+ jobs a week in my local area and looking up to an hour away for jobs just to open up my search. I had to take a poor paid job at a small firm, which saw me cut my wage and hours, i took up a second job in a bar to bump up my wages. Following this i have moved jobs twice and found it quite easy. The employers i've been with have loved the fact i self study AAT and see it as a real deal breaker, i guess it shows the willing and determination. I've gone on to work in industry for a £1BN company and now i work for a chartered accountants. I'm coming to the end of my AAT and have just been offered a training agreement with my firm to study the ICAEW, all funded by my employer. My wage is now much higher than when i was working in care so i believe i made the right choices, even if it was a tough road to go down.


  • JYOUNG88
    JYOUNG88 Registered Posts: 4
    Hi Liam,

    Firstly thank you for your comment, you have shed a lot of light on what it's like to study the AAT from home. Can I ask how long it took for you to complete the entire AAT course? Also, did the job hunt become a lot easier once you had completed the first parts of the qualification? The reason I ask is that many of the job descriptions I see are asking for candidates to be either in the early stages or having completed the AAT.

    With regards to self studying part of the AAT, if I were to buy the books online and pay the AAT membership would the only cost be then for the exams themselves? Also can the AAT be completed without any work experience in an accountancy firm?

    Sorry for the mass of questions again, I am just looking to get all the information I can before making a decision.


  • Clayy1990
    Clayy1990 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 35
    edited July 2015
    I completed the Level 2 in 6 weeks. I pretty much completed an exam a week to do this. The level 3 took me 9 months to fit in and completed and the Level 4 (i have my last exam tomorrow) will have taken me 15 months. The level 4 has proven a challenge for me in terms of lifestyle and fitting in the study. I took a job with a huge commute and a high demand for overtime etc, meaning i simply couldn't fit the study in. I've since moved closer to home and managed to fit in and pass the last few exams. The first job was a struggle but i would say it's been much easier since i passed the levels. Each time I've been on the job hunt I've been inundated with phone calls & email from recruiters with opportunities to the point where my girlfriend can't believe how many jobs are out there for somebody who is part qualified. I do think the fact I've shown the willing to study and pay for the AAT on my own has helped separate me from the rest. Maybe the fact i'm a little older helps too.

    You would only have to pay exam fee's on top of the membership and book fee's yes. The AAT website has a lot of resources you can use as part of your membership. You don't have to work in practice to become qualified. You have to submit various work experience with a referee to verify it. Read the below link

    Don't worry about the questions! That's what this forum is here for. I wish i had used my brain a bit to ask about before i took the plunge. All i will say is that if you have the desire and willing then you will succeed at this and i'd recommend the qualification to anybody as it gives a fantastic grounding to go on to other qualifications/jobs.

  • CeeJaySix
    CeeJaySix Well-Known Registered Posts: 645
    edited July 2015
    Just to add - I think Liam has shown why Home Learning College have such a bad reputation. £5k is a little extreme.

    Eagle and Premier offer courses around £700 per level (excluding exam fees) and both have excellent reputation among students.

    As to how long it takes - it depends on how naturally you take to it and how much time you can commit to it. I, and a few others who are on here/used to be here, completed all three levels within a year to 18 months, whilst working full time. I found I needed around 2hrs every weeknight to do this, and sat an exam roughly every 3 weeks. Many don't have that amount of time to commit, and I found working in practice for level 3 and 4 helped immensely as much of the content was what I was doing at work anyway. Most of my firm's AAT apprentices have one day at college per week and take 2-3 years to complete the qualification.

    I hope that may help a little with timescales/costs etc.
  • JYOUNG88
    JYOUNG88 Registered Posts: 4
    Thank you both so much for your comments and advice, it has been invaluable :)

    I have decided now to self-study for the AAT, at least level 2 anyway. A test centre local to me allows external candidates, now all I need to do is pay the exam and membership fees. With regards to the books themselves, which are the most reputable or ones recommended by those currently studying? Osborne for example seems to be a very popular choice and Amazon appears to have them for a reasonably cheap price. These come in the forms of tutorial, workbook and wiseguides.

    Also one final question, I have read that the computerised accounting module would require me to enrol with a training provider in order to complete, is this correct?

    Thanks once again


  • Clayy1990
    Clayy1990 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 35
    I had the Home Learning College material for Level 2 & 3 so couldn't comment. I've used Osborne for Level 4 and found them easy to use. I rely heavily on the AAT resources too. The Green Light etc are fantastic. I believe you do have to have enrolled with a training provider for the computerised accounting module as it needs to be marked by somebody. I do think you could just sign up for that individual unit with a training provider though. I'd ring/email round and ask if it's possible to just pay the fee's for 1 module.
  • RaynaKaur
    RaynaKaur DerbyRegistered Posts: 12
    I'm currently volunteering at a finance workplace as an debt collection officer and studying AAT Level 3. Just wanted to know if this is ok.
    Please let me know, thanks.
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