Advice/guidance needed: possible career change

welshie Registered Posts: 2
edited February 2017 in General AAT student discussion
Hello world,

I am a 25 year old seeking some advice about a possible future career change. I am currently a serving police officer and have been for the last 4 years. I didn't attend university as I kind of fell into the career I'm currently in. Due to the current climate I've become increasingly motivated to change my path in life but I don't know if I'm too old to start now or even what exams/courses to undertake? I had a keen interest in both accounts and economics in college and I was always jealous of my uncle having paid company trips abroad with his accounting job. There is also the issue of wages, at my top pay point I would be earning 37k, I would reach this by 30, do most accounts earn this when they are employed after gaining experience?

Anyway, any guidance or words of wisdom is greatly appreciated.



  • CeeJaySix
    CeeJaySix Registered Posts: 645
    edited July 2015

    I was a Royal Marine for 10 years and switched to accountancy just over 2yrs ago following a medical discharge at 28. You will have to take a sizeable pay cut to change careers - I found a trainee position with a good size regional firm at 50% of what I was earning (£34k). In a reasonable size practice outside London, £30-£35k a year once qualified to Chartered level seems to be about right at Senior level, around £5-£10k higher if you are lucky enough and willing to work the hours required to get a job at a top tier firm. As you get up the chain into management, director, partner levels there is certainly far better pay to be had than in public service. I started with AAT and now have my ACA finals in November and will time-qualify in May to become chartered, so you do need to budget for a good period of earning less than you're used to, but long-term it is an excellent career if you're good at it. Hope that sets your mind at rest, it's definitely not too late to change.

    With your background, you should also find that your soft skills put you above uni and college leavers, communication/management skills already evolved etc. If you can find elements of your current role that reflect accountancy-type skills that's an added bonus - at times I was responsible for ledgers and tracking of various weapons and secret equipments, which is surprisingly similar to keeping a decent set of books! Plus you have a proven ability to work under pressure, to deadlines, etc etc. Sell yourself and your transferable skills well and you should have no problem finding an entry-level role.

    Interestingly my cousin went the other way - trained with KPMG, gave it up and now works for the MoD!
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
    Hi Welshie,

    I too was a police officer for 13 years and I know where you are coming from with regards to the job! I studied AAT whilst still there and then took a career break when I started ACCA and looked for my first accounting job. 18 months in I have no regrets. I've nearly completed ACCA now but my pay is only half of what it was (a sergeant on London weighting so do the maths!) but this is partly due to my experience not yet matching my qualifications (I've actually just taken another pay drop in my second finance role due to the experience and other perks that the new job offered me). BUT, not doing shift work and regular hours is worth the pay drop, and it's reassuring to know that there is more chance of getting home in one piece now. I know my salary will soon be comparable to my old police one. I'm happy that accountancy gives me more long term security than the police would in the current climate as I have serious concerns about the direction that the government are sending the police in. Oh, and morale is definitely higher in my finance office than on a typical response team at the moment!

    Keep in mind that jobs in industry pay more than practice as well.

    I've found that employers have been really interested in my background, it does make you stand out from all this who have just left college/uni and have no other life experience.

    Do not worry about your age, I was 36 when I started AAT. Granted I'm the oldest in my office and feel really old, but I don't think anyone else has batted an eyelid.

    I self studied AAT and ACCA to keep costs down - have a look on the AAT website, find the names of each course, then look on Amazon for the accompanying BPP/Kaplan AAT texts. Buy one or two and see how you get on. I personally wouldn't advise looking into courses until you've had a look at the content to see if you think you need the extra help.

    Go for it, at the least, you could eventually combine some bookkeeping with your current career if you didn't want to throw yourself fully into accounting to begin with.

  • welshie
    welshie Registered Posts: 2
    Big thanks to the both of you for the great comments!

    I will do exactly as you've both said, I think studying whilst working is the best option. Yes I do have the option of a career break once I reach that stage, I will go over everything I need to look at with a fine combe before committing, but it looks promising!

    My thanks again to both of you, you answered all the questions I was hung up on.

  • awais_arshadacca
    awais_arshadacca Registered Posts: 2
    Hi Welshire,

    Accounts and Finance is a well paid profession. In order to get a job AAT is the best choice. It is not difficult to change over and to earn and handsome money by 30. My advise is to start #AAT along with your job may be at the weekend or during your free time which you will give you more understanding about the profession. AAT is a self-choice course means you can take exams according to your budget and time.

    I hope that will help.
  • zarqa
    zarqa Registered Posts: 2
    Hi everyone ,
    I am new to this forum.
    I am a male age 45.I did masters in 1996 Economics.After that I did many jobs related to finance and even did office managers, payroll advsiors jobs.
    I want to switch over to Accounting.Would like to do AAT first as I can have loan 24 plus for that.And also at this age would I be able to get any work.I don't have any high dreams,just want to do accounts related work.
    Would like to become self employed at the end.Because of my age I am little confused as I cant be working in offices forever
  • john145
    john145 Registered Posts: 2
    Hi All,

    I have had to go for a complete career change as well at the age of 46. My past jobs have been 6 years in the army and recently left the railway after 16 years involved in health & safety and I just had enough. New company took over and I didn't like the direction it was heading. Anyway at present I'm studying AAT level 2 & 3 and my goal is to have my own practice in 5 years or before. I'm looking forward to the challenge and I don't regard my age or being too old as a barrier. As Nps has said in the earlier post I have a lot to offer with regards to life & work experience which I can draw upon to get ahead. So I would say to anybody regardless of age go for it. Good luck to all.

  • CollinsHus
    CollinsHus Registered Posts: 2
    I went along this path, changed its shape by this site And then I changed and my career.
  • k4pz
    k4pz Registered Posts: 7
    edited April 2016
    Evening all,

    I originally was working in a call centre, then just got fed up earning pennies and getting abused on the phone all day.
    I quit at 27 years old and went on a journey that took me across the remotest parts of South West Africa, I ended up working on the game parks and with a vast amount of charities whilst out there earning next to nothing.
    Then I met a guy who was a chartered accountant and inspired me.
    He said 'I can work anywhere in the world with this qualification, ACCA, and get paid a truck load with massive benefits - all whilst seeing the world, you should do it'

    A year and a half later I came back to UK and got myself another call centre job, and started studying AAT in the evenings at college. Now im 31 an AAT affiliate and studying ACCA earning double salary as a Management Accountant than I did as a call centre agent.

    The hardest thing about a career change is motivation, which is why it took me 2 and a half years to do AAT level 2 & 3. Lack of motivation cost me dearly in time, but I regained the motivation on AAT level 4 self study and blitzed through it, completed AAT level 4 Jan 2016

    Im on ACCA paper F5 now and my motivation has gone up as I can see light at the end of the tunnel, even though im 10 exams away still lol. I studied ACCA F4 in 3 weeks and passed the CBE - again all self study!

    I only got 5 gcses at grade C back in school and U's at A/S levels....didn't even bother with Uni

    Soon as I'm ACCA qualified im heading to Far East to live the dream, maybe change country/job every year :)

    Moral of story its not about age or intelligence its about your motivation and attitude.


  • villapb
    villapb Registered Posts: 357
    I ran my own business for nine years and it ceased. I thought what do i do at the age of 42 how do i find a job so i started the long road as i like finance of becoming an accountant. I qualified aat and iab in 18 months. It was now Jan 2012

    I managed to get into an accountants and worked for no pay for nine months then they took me on for peanuts. I earned £500 a month for 3 months, then 750 a month for next three month, then £1000 a month. I was there two years then went to work for a client of theirs which i found more fun and by accident ended up doing all round accounts, cis, paye, vat everything really, i was then on £1250 a month.

    Then Feb 2015 i went to work for a construction company as the accounts manager doing really a controller role i went from very quickly 24k and year to today 30k a year and love my role. Next April i have a further role advancement and they are considering a finance director role for me.

    I had experience with age tbh and really moved quickly up the ladder, im good at controlling finances and chasing payments.

    I love what i do but omg it was a struggle but i never gave up and had some breaks but you have to motivated, i think out of 30 i was studying with only 4 made it to where i am today as far as i know.

    The others gave up.

    I didn't feel i wanted to be chartered with the costs involved but if i was 15 years younger i would have. Just happy to earn a decent living doing what i enjoy. Its a risk leaving the Police etc and not easy anf you need breaks.

    But you have to be motivated and determined.

    Good luck its worth it imo.

    I found you never stop advancing if you wish to and with age you are sought after, i get offers every week.
  • villapb
    villapb Registered Posts: 357
    ps i think it takes five years experience then you will never be un empolyed as an accountant, but i learn things every day i spend a lot of hours on cpd.
  • j1994
    j1994 Registered Posts: 106
    I've just started a new job in bookkeeping, Monday was my first day and I absolutely hated it .I've studied aat from level 2 to level 4 but In the job I feel like I no absolutely nothing I feel like a complete idiot. plus the person who 'trains' me is very lax and patronising .Its making me wonder is accounting right for me :(

    Pease share your experiences hopefully they weren't a bad as mine

    Also I've been given a manual for my daily tasks if anyone can give me some tips/advice on how to complete them I will really appreciate it .
  • villapb
    villapb Registered Posts: 357
    Hi believe me ....good and bad experiences, cold sweats, sleepiness nights, stress, rows , panic attacks had it all.
    My advice is never panic, don,t look ahead at tasks it will drive you mad.
    I learnt the one by one rule, do one task and move onto the next you will be amazed when it all gets done and a great feeling.
    I have thought omg... loads to do but quickly in time get through the tasks daily.
    If the trainer is lax maybe its the sign you need to relax and not worry. Try your best and don,t worry... experience will come don,t beat yourself up. You can only do what you can.
    Your lucky you have a trainer even if no good.....i at times just got on with it and learnt by mistakes.........and mistakes i made plenty off.
    Today i look back and the job seemed so difficult but now seems easy most days do it in my sleep.
    I have gone from being in your shoes to today have complete control of the company finances i do everything even make the tea and wash up.
    It will take five years and'll be ok.
    Ps i love my job ...........

  • j1994
    j1994 Registered Posts: 106
    Thanks villapb reading this has made my day .really good to hear that I'm not the only one feeling like this at the start.
  • Christina
    Christina Registered Posts: 33 New contributor 🐸
    edited October 2016
    villapb's advice is spot on - don't panic, and don't worry. There will always be things you haven't encountered before. When I started my job as accounts admin assistant, the previous person had left a month beforehand so I had no-one to train me - my boss doesn't even know how to use the computer (MTD is going to be fun!) and so the filing of all the tax returns was down to me. Apart from my AAT qualification and general secretarial background, I didn't have any experience of what went on in an accounting practice. Those were some daunting, but exciting days. Fortunately my boss is patient to the extreme and I was able to find my way around and learn as I went.

    I'm now eight months in and I've grown in confidence and taken on more responsibility. New things still come up all the time and me and the boss have a chat about how to overcome it. I didn't realise I enjoyed problem-solving so much but it's lucky I do! We have our first client staging for auto-enrollment this month and I've had a rather steep learning curve researching how to get that one off the ground.

    Congratulations on getting the job, j1994, and good luck. Give yourself a few weeks to settle in before making any big decisions.

    PS I love my job too :3
  • j1994
    j1994 Registered Posts: 106
    Thanks so much listening to these stories really help my confidence grow
  • villapb
    villapb Registered Posts: 357
    ps if you get stuck just give us a shout......try to help out
  • j1994
    j1994 Registered Posts: 106
Privacy Policy