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Some advice on AAT vs CIMA for someone with zero experience

Hi all,

Firstly, apologies if this is in the wrong section, many of the categories are grayed out for me.

I'm looking for some advice on selecting the best training route, I'm currently in a position where I may be able to take up a role as an Assistant Project Accountant, which will come with the training required to progress within the role where I will likely be able to choose my preferred route. I have no finance experience and have looked into what I think are they 4 main qualifications (AAT, ACA, ACCA & CIMA) and given I want to progress through Project Accounting, CIMA seems the most attractive (please correct me if you think i'm wrong here).

My concern is that I have never studied beyond school and my lack of a finance background could hold me back and I do not know of the best route to study. I have read that it's possible to jump straight into CIMA with no history, but my worry is that as soon as I start I would feel lost and studying AAT first may be more beneficial.

I would not want to study the entirety of AAT as I want to begin CIMA as soon as possible, so Im currently wondering whether it would be worth my time studying lvl 2 and/ or lvl 3 of AAT and then progressing into CIMA, but at the same time I do not want to waste my time studying AAT if it wouldn't be of any benefit and I could learn this material within CIMA.

I'm aware you can get exemptions and this is not something that interests me, I would rather study the route that would make the entire CIMA progress make the most sense and I'm very interested in hearing the opinions of those who have completed CIMA with no finance background, with partial AAT (lvl 2 and/ or lvl 3) and full AAT.

Many thanks for any advice!

Answers

  • CSan89CSan89 MAAT Posts: 207
    What level did you leave school at (gcse, A level)?
    AAT Level 2&3 - 2016
    AAT Level 4 - 2017
    Personal Tax, Business Tax and External Auditing

    ACA/CTA -
    Certificate Level - Jan 2019
  • MatttMattt Registered Posts: 4
    My grades were not the best, GCSE at 'C' across the board, then. BTEC Nat Dip (lvl3) at MMM.

    I wasn't the most focused during my younger years.
  • CSan89CSan89 MAAT Posts: 207
    Sounds similar to me. I would suggest doing AAT from level 2(can be done in 3months) and go from there. It gives you the building blocks when studying later. I went back to college and did level 2/3 in one year and level 4 the second year. Just started Aca now and I think I would have struggled starting Aca straight away without what I learnt from AAT.

    Can’t give any advice on CIMA I’m afraid but there are a few people on here that have gone on to it.
    AAT Level 2&3 - 2016
    AAT Level 4 - 2017
    Personal Tax, Business Tax and External Auditing

    ACA/CTA -
    Certificate Level - Jan 2019
  • MatttMattt Registered Posts: 4
    I've seen a few topics mention that AAT level 2 can be completed in a short timescale, which sounds like what I would like to push for.

    CSan, I'm curious on your background before starting AAT level 2, would be be comfortable sharing? Would be interested to know how similar we are and how many hours of study it took you per week to complete (did you complete within 3 months?)

    Luckily for me, if I take this new position the team would be very supportive in my development and working within a finance role should help progress studies of AAT much faster than most (I assume?) unless it's all theory and workplace experience wouldn't benefit me so much.
  • CSan89CSan89 MAAT Posts: 207
    I left school with ok GCSEs and worked at a supermarket for about 9 years.
    Wanted a job that would give a better income and more sociable hours to spend with my family so decided on accounting.
    Started level 2/3 at college doing 2 days a week but didn’t need to do much studying outside of that so if you only had evenings and weekends available you could do it that way quite easy. (Especially as you seem quite determined to do it which helps a lot)
    I then got a job in small accountancy practice at the end of level 3 and got one afternoon off a week to study level 4.
    Level 4 is where it got a little trickier as you then need to know why tthings are done and explain rather than just doing the calculations as in level 2/3.

    Now I am about to start a lvl 7 apprenticeship doing ACA-CTA joint programme so only 3/4 years left until I’m a Chartered Accountant.

    I believe AAT has helped really well and I definitely would not be where I am today without it. I also am on one of the networking committees for AAT and do a treasurer role for a local community group so it has opened a lot of doors for me.
    AAT Level 2&3 - 2016
    AAT Level 4 - 2017
    Personal Tax, Business Tax and External Auditing

    ACA/CTA -
    Certificate Level - Jan 2019
    MarieNoellereaderCheesypeesy
  • readerreader Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,042
    You could always start with CIMA and just read the AAT books in your spare time. That way you are starting CIMA asap (which is what you want) and picking up on some of the basics (again, which is what you want).
  • MatttMattt Registered Posts: 4
    Thanks for sharing your background CSan, very helpful to see your path through AAT. You say that it was 2 days a week, am I right to assume that's 16 hours ? It definitely seems like trying to focus on completion of Level 2 would beneficial to begin with, and likely level 3, then skip level 4 to move into CIMA.

    I appreciate the suggestion of studying CIMA and reading AAT in my spare time, but if I'm honest with myself, I don't think I'd realistically be able to commit myself to study both AAT & CIMA whilst also learning a new role. I will keep it in mind for if I manage to make it part way through level 3, I should then be better settled and have a greater understanding of my studying commitments.
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