ELCAS First Steps – your Road Map
You’re leaving the Services, or you have recently left them.
You’re not an accountant… yet.
Therefore this isn’t the first step in your career.
Each year there will be thousands leaving school or University looking to embark on a career in accountancy. Fortunately, in 2013 there were 327,000 members of accountancy bodies in the UK, with half that number again, studying to be accountants. There will also be a significant number of unqualified staff working in accountancy.
Therefore the opportunities are there – but – it will be difficult for you to compete directly with those leaving schools and Universities because the accountancy profession is geared up to recruit them each year, with firm ideas of the required number of UCAS points or “A” Level / GCSE grades . It is not very likely that you will get a job as an accounts trainee in a firm of accountants. Moreover, the pay for an accounts trainee will be less than attractive!
You should therefore be looking to differentiate yourself – achieve that all important accountancy qualification, but make the most of the other, broader, life skills and management/operations experience that you have.
Some options will be:
- Setting up your own business as a bookkeeper
- Setting up your own business as a financial advisor / management consultant (providing a mix of bookkeeping/accountancy services with advice on general business operations and management)
- Finding an employer that would benefit from the skills set out in b. (adding a recognised accounting qualification to your existing skills will increase your “value” in the marketplace. This marketplace might by industry and commerce, the charity / 3rd sector, care or education)
Your CV, or bio, is key to this process, whether you are looking for a job or looking to build a business. You will probably want more than one CV. Draft a different one for each type of sector you are looking to enter, so you can add differing weights to the attributes / experience / qualifications you have, depending on the demands of that sector i.e. what value they will place on each of those respective attributes.
NB: Getting an accounting qualification isn’t a guarantee of a job in accounting.
However, what can be guaranteed (almost!) is that not getting an accounting qualification will prevent you getting a job in accounting.
It is a pre-requisite not a guarantee.
What you need to do is to draft a “plan of campaign” on how and when to complete the qualification and how and when to start looking for work.
ELCAS funding will cover eligible Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications, but not Level 2. If you have no prior experience in accounting, achieving a Level 2 in Bookkeeping must be a pre-cursor to commencing your Level 3 and 4 studies. If you are still in the Forces, much of the cost of this could be covered by Resettlement Funding.
There is a CV builder on the National Careers Service website, which you might like to use; just click on the link here. We also give advice on this aspect on our website, where there are some further links to useful recruitment sites and available support. You can access this page by clicking on the link here.
One of the key elements to remember is that your CV is a living document. It grows as you grow. Each time you update it, you have an excuse to send it to all of those firms who ignored you when you sent the previous one! Our job is to help you build up those excuses.
One of the best excuses is that you have just achieved another accounting qualification.
Similarly, if you are looking to set up in business in your own right, you will need some form of publicity material / fact sheet on what you have to offer. As most of what you have to offer is “you”, you need to show that you have some market credibility.
AAT Qualifications and Combinations
There are various options for which combinations of AAT qualifications to undertake – more information on these AAT qualification options is covered in our 29 page FREE General Guide to the Accountancy Profession and how to get into it! (AAT Studies for Forces Personnel). If you would like an e-copy of this guide, you can request a copy here – just provide us with your name and email address and in the comments box, please type “ELCAS”; we’ll then email a copy over to you.
Alternatively, if you would like to have a chat with us about it all, do phone us on 01392 311925, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to agree a good time to call, or even Skype.