Changing My Career To Accounting/Book-Keeping In My Late 40s...

I am 47, I currently work in a Local Government administrative job which is low-paid and going nowhere, and I want to change in to some form of Accounting job. I obviously realise that I will need to start at the bottom of the ladder. I have completed the AAT L2 Bookkeeping course and I am currently studying the AAT L3 Bookkeeping course (I have just passed Advanced Booking and I am now learning Final Accounts Preparation). I have been applying for Purchase Ledger Clerk/Sales Ledger Clerk/Finance Assistant type jobs, which I assume is the correct level, for some months now, but I keep getting no reply. This is quite dis-heartening, as I was hoping to change careers in to an Accounting/Bookkeeping type job with the AAT Qualifications, because that it was they are meant to qualify you in. I do not know whether it is a case that employers are not valuing the AAT Qualifications or whether there is a glut of people out there who are more experienced/qualified than myself that employers are taking on instead; but it appears to be the same old chicken-and-egg problem regarding experience and jobs. I surely cannot be the only person experiencing this and it seems that the AAT Forums have plenty of similar postings to this. Any advice is appreciated, as I want to change my career before it is too late for me (which I hope it is not, since people are now having to work until longer than before). I realise that I will have to just keep on applying for junior Accounting-type positions with companies.


  • Dervish_Life
    Dervish_Life Registered Posts: 10
    I read this somewhere and found it interesting so sharing it with you here with some edits made.

    All companies have their own special 'recipe' for finding the perfect candidate.

    Remember the three E's: Experience, Exposure and Education. These are generally accepted by most companies to be 70:20:10 respectively. (Although it may vary slightly in some companies).

    So don't focus your energy on what 'AAT is marketing of its qualifications or salary etc. If most major corporations think 70% of your understanding and competency within a particular field is based on experience alone, then experience is your priority above all. Also the fact that you should have experience in a real world scenario also gives you that exposure, and 20% of learning is in a social context - just watching and learning or asking simple questions to colleagues and seniors.

    Yes, you can prove your competence by passing exams, but you'll have only proved 10%. They are all looking for candidates who have proven their competence in real-world scenarios as that is exactly what they'll be paying you for. So experience in itself will prove 70% and exposure will prove 20% of your competence. So when you say 'the role involved attention to detail as I was dealing with XYZ...', you have 80% more credibility when you make that statement around a work experience context rather than an educational context.

    My advice for you as is for myself, to find work experience or find apprentice accounting jobs to get that experience and build upon from there. I am in the same boat as you are with the career change.
  • AAT_Team
    AAT_Team Administrator Posts: 581
    Hi @sjtoomer, this article has some good advice on gaining work experience. Hope you find something soon ⭐
  • lauraWB
    lauraWB Registered Posts: 1
    Hi! Please don't worry about this or feel disheartened.

    I owned my own business for 15 years and after closing this down to relocate I struggled even to find a job in a supermarket, particularly as I left school at 14 with nothing under my belt. I had at least one interview every single weekday for a month and heard "you've never worked for someone, you have no experience, etc". It's hard going but you can't let those experiences dissuade you from what you want to do.

    After a month of searching I found a job as an Administrator at £10PH which terrified me as the wages hardly covered the mortgage, but after 6 months of hard work and perseverence I was promoted to Business & Sales Manager/Senior Bookkeeper with a varied and enjoyable role at £17PH. I was very lucky, but it does happen.

    Personally, I believe the biggest thing in any interview is letting your personality shine through and showing them that you have the drive to do this. If you are rejected or an application is ignored, just keep going and don't give up. A colourful CV is not everything and many employers would rather find someone who works hard, does a great job and sticks around for the long-term. Knowledge is taught, work ethic & passion is not :smile: If you don't hear back from an application give them a call and check in, make yourself stand out and show them how much you'd like to get that interview!

    Also, don't ever let your age be a concern! I once hired a 56 year old lady who had not worked her whole life and she was the best staff member we ever had, far outshining our other staff who had been in the industry for many years. If this is what you want to do for the rest of your career then someone out there will recognise that.

    Another chap we hired was 86 (yes, 86!!) and he just wanted something to keep him busy albeit a totally new industry for him. He was a shining light in our office, did an amazing job for a few years and our clients adored him! So, anything is possible at any time in your life, whether you're 18 or 80 :smile:
  • brayncc
    brayncc Registered Posts: 1
    I left my post as a deputy head at age 44 with no job. I applied to over 50 accountants and got one interview at what is now UHY Hacker Young in Chester. I qualified as an ACA in 3 years and then passed the IoT exams a year later. Just keep trying!
  • leeGrant77
    leeGrant77 Registered Posts: 29
    Hi SJToomer,
    I am a similar age to yourself albeit my background is vastly different. I set up my own practise in the last few years and have found the AAT qualifications to be useful, if not essential.
    The world has changed dramatically in the last few years and there are plenty of opportunities out there, especially if you are coming from a public sector background.
    Recruitment remains the hardest part for a lot of Companies I believe.
    Message me privately if you wish to dicuss further, I am looking at recruiting myself in the not too distant future.

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