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Accountancy qualifications

You can qualify as an accountant or an account technician via a number of training routes, including:

  • ACA qualification (ICAEW)
  • ACCA qualification
  • AAT qualification
  • CIMA qualification
  • CIPFA qualification

Depending on the qualification, it may be possible to gain some exemptions if you have already studied business or accountancy during your degree. Many accountancy graduate schemes will sponsor your qualification as part of the training programme.

ACA qualification (ICAEW)

This highly-regarded qualification to become a chartered accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales combines work and study, including 15 exam modules and 450 days of practical work experience. It takes around 3-5 years to complete. Employers often sponsor employees to do the qualification, and it may be offered as part of a graduate scheme.

AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualfications

The AAT is the minimum level of qualification expected of an accountant. Three levels of qualification are offered: foundation certificate; advance diploma; professional diploma. The professional diploma offers a route to becoming an AAT Accountant and take around 2-3 years to complete. This option also is suitable for those who want to become an accounting technician.

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualification

The ACCA qualification offers two levels: fundamentals and professional. To qualify as an accountant, you will also need three years' practical experience, so the ACCA recommends working alongside your study. The qualification can be completed in 3-4 years. 

CIMA (Charterted Institute of Management Accountants) qualification

The CIMA offers a range of accountancy qualifications, including the CIMA Professional Qualification, which leads to Chartered Global Management Accountant status. There are 12 exams in total.

CIPFA (The Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accounting) qualifications

If you want to work in public finance, CIPFA offers two main accounting qualifications: the CIPFA Professional Accountancy Qualification and the International Public Financial Management PQ.