Would you like a career in Accounting but are unsure about the different job options (including salary and prospects) within:
- Industry and Commerce
- Private Practice
- Public Sector
The options for a career in accounting are vast but they neatly slot into 3 main areas – industry and commerce, private practice (firms of accountants) and the public sector (local authorities, hospitals etc). Although they all deal with numbers, the roles can be very different so it is worth having a think about what you would like to do.
In industry and commerce you could…
- Form a key part of the sales or purchase ledger department – raising sales invoices; approving purchase invoices; credit control and financial management.
- Operate in the payroll department; controlling wages; completing regular statutory returns.
- Work in the costing department assisting in product costing and decision making.
- Play a role in the accounts department preparing management accounts; budgets and cashflows; providing information for management decisions
In private practice you could…
- Produce financial statements for various types of businesses.
- Assist in the audit of limited companies and charities.
- Prepare tax returns and budgets for individuals and businesses.
- Assist clients with bookkeeping or installing computerised accountancy systems.
- Work on the preparation of business plans and provide financial information management decisions.
In the public sector you could…
- Join a particular department like Housing or Social Services.
- Get involved with the preparation of budgets and forecasts.
- Be collecting revenue and authorising payments.
- Play a part in evaluating the financial impact of proposed activities.
- Perform internal audits.
Salary and Prospects
Salaries can vary widely depending on the sector, size and location of the firm as well as the level you enter at. AAT apprentices will start out at £8k to £10k pa. This increases incrementally with qualifications gained to £15k to £19k pa for a fully qualified technician. The starting salary for new graduate ACA trainees is up to £20,000. Recently qualified accountants earn up to £30,000 with senior positions paying a salary of over £60,000. The very top jobs in the profession pay over £100,000.
Competition for jobs is pretty stiff due to the excellent career path, prospects and rewards. However, a career in accounts could take you literally anywhere. Skills are also transferable so you can transfer from an accountancy firm to the finance department of a business or a position within the public sector. Also, qualified accountants can move into management consultancy or take up the highest positions in companies like Chief Executive or Managing Director. The AAT have a very useful salary survey on their website, as shown below:
Let’s just destroy a few myths…
To be an accountant you:
- DON’T have to have a degree in Maths
- DON’T need a Maths A Level
- DON’T even need a GCSE in Maths
So what do you need? Well, do you:
- Enjoy working with figures?
- Have an interest in what makes business tick?
- Want to build the financial skills needed for success in business?
And it’s never too late!
If you want to get into the accountancy profession now, you can. You could be doing something completely different but no matter how different, it doesn’t stop you entering the accountancy profession.