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Where to start?


Im 24 years old and looking at a possible career change. I've worked in Education for the past 3 years but due to changes in Government etc I've become a little disillusioned with it all. I'm looking at switching to accountancy. I enjoy working with numbers and have always had an interest in numbers/finance. I'm also worried that at 24, I'll find it harder than younger people to get a job.

I'm thinking of starting AAT through home study/distance learning. I've done some reading and a lot of people have said that Level 2 can be done without having to pay for a course (buy the books etc and then do the exams at a centre). Is this correct? I want to do it in my own time and if it's possible to do it without having to fork out for a course.

Any help is greatly appreciated.



  • CeeJaySixCeeJaySix Well-Known Registered Posts: 645

    Re: level 2, that is correct. You don't need to sit the exams either, Level 2 is not required for the AAT qualification, though you will need the knowledge from Level 2 at levels 3/4 so worth reading and understanding the material even if you don't sit the exams.

    Your age will not count against you in looking for jobs; indeed the soft skills you have already developed will put you above school/college leavers if you sell them well in your CV/interviews. You're a lot younger than many that change careers; I did it at 28 from a military background, and there are others on here that did it older - NPS for example switched from the police if memory serves me correctly. Try searching the forum for 'changing career' and similar.
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    That's correct. I was 37ish when I switched so 24 is positively young! I don't think my age was even a factor when I was job hunting, but the soft skills from my previous life probably were. That's the beauty of accounting, it's never too late to start, and you can qualify without too much of a financial outlay if you're willing to self study.
  • SheffieldTomSheffieldTom Registered Posts: 25
    Thanks for your replies. Would it be a good idea to do the exams for Level 2 just in case? Which books do I need for Level 2?

    Also, did you find it difficult regarding pay? I'd imagine there'll be a drop in wages starting out from the beginning?
  • CeeJaySixCeeJaySix Well-Known Registered Posts: 645
    Sitting Level 2 exams may give you something to put on your CV in the short-term if you're looking for jobs immediately (I did); if you don't plan to change until you've done Level 3 anyway personally I wouldn't bother, just read the books and make sure you're happy with the content.

    Yes it's difficult taking a pay cut, but ultimately it depends on your personal circumstances as to whether its viable - you still have to pay the mortgage at the end of the day.
  • SheffieldTomSheffieldTom Registered Posts: 25
    Thanks again for your responses. I'm looking into buying the books for Level 2 just so I can read them through. Does anyone know which exact books I need, I keep finding different variations on websites so not sure which ones I definitely need?
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    I used to go to the BPP website, find the books, note down the ISDN number, then look for those on other sites. That way you know you're getting the most up to date books.
  • send2aditisend2aditi Registered Posts: 4
    I would advise you to sit for the exams since from what I read from your post, you need this on your CV to get a job. Personally that is important for me since I also want to pay for the costs involved. Check this one out


    I have emailed almost every AAT provider and these guys are the cheapest. It also includes books, tutor support, online videos etc (I mean what else you need!). Also there are two Level 2's. One is Level 2 Accounting and the other one is Level 2 Bookkeeping. I am going for the Bookkeeping one and here is why.

    The Accounting one has 3 extra papers, Basic Costing, Working Effectively and Computerised Accounting. If you pursue Level 3 Diploma then the 1st 2 options will be taught in detail anyway so I am giving that a pass. If you are educated and smart you will be fine. Computerised accounting would be something like SAGE etc which I want to defer until I find a job. This is bcos suppose I take up to learn SAGE but where I get a job, my employer does not have SAGE since they have another Accounting software say Oracle. Dont you think its a waste of money?? Hence, I find strong logic to just do the Bookkeeping and then proceed on to Level 3. Hope this helps!

    Thanks again for your responses. I'm looking into buying the books for Level 2 just so I can read them through. Does anyone know which exact books I need, I keep finding different variations on websites so not sure which ones I definitely need?

  • SheffieldTomSheffieldTom Registered Posts: 25
    Hi again,

    Just about to get going with this now. I am currently looking at the books i need for level 2, and there are around 10 at 18pound each. Is this right? I don't want to be overpaying and buying books I won't need.

    Also, I have read there is a new syllabus coming into place in Sept. What effect will this have? Will I need to buy the newer books for this?

  • SheffieldTomSheffieldTom Registered Posts: 25
  • DomOneDomOne Registered Posts: 8
    Hi, first comment on this forum, and I sense this may be a stupid question:

    But in terms of job opportunites as well as the difficulty involved, is there any reason why you couldn't just start at level 4? According to the Kaplan website "it's an alternative to uni."

    I've a year or two before I intend to make a career change but I don't want to spend a few months doing courses just for the experience.

  • Adele69Adele69 CambridgeAAT Student Posts: 320
    if you had a degree in accountancy or membership of another accounting body then you could just do level 4 and be AAT qualified (the AAT could give you exemptions on parts of level 4 too, you would need to contact them to discuss)


    but otherwise level 3 is the highest level you can start afaik
  • CeeJaySixCeeJaySix Well-Known Registered Posts: 645
    You would struggle to get anywhere with Level 4 without any accounting knowledge, as it doesn't start with the basics (eg. double-entry, where nominals go in financial statements; these are assumed knowledge - remember how tricky they were to get your head around the first time you saw it?!)

    Level 4 is not really an alternative to uni - it's roughly equivalent to first year. If you want degree-level you need to look at chartered quals.

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