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5 great reasons to do an accountancy apprenticeship

So you’re a team player who’s got a knack for solving problems and great communication skills? Sounds like you’d make a brilliant accountant.

It might surprise you to learn that you don’t actually have to go to university in order to become an accountant. An alternative route is to do an apprenticeship. In this guide we’ll explore 6 great reasons why an accountancy apprenticeship could be the right path for you.

Check out this video on accountancy apprenticeships in a nutshell: 

1. You'll gain professional qualifications

There are three levels of accounting apprenticeships:

  • Intermediate: you could train in roles such as accounts assistant; accounts clerk; cashier.
  • Advanced: you will train as a trainee accounting technician, or assistant accountant.
  • Higher: you could train in roles like accounts manager.

The ultimate goal in becoming a “chartered accountant” is to gain the qualification from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales that says you’re a member of the “Association of Chartered Accountants”. The ICAEW’s ACA stamp of approval tells the world you’ve got the skills and know-how to be a professional accountant.

An apprenticeship at any level allows you to gain the initial professional qualifications that will help you become a fully qualified ACA accountant. It’s like the first stepping stone on your way to the ACA.

ICAEW's ACA qualification

ICAEW apprentices

ICAEW apprentices work towards professional qualifications, gaining skills and experience along the way

Or if you choose to do the higher level apprenticeship, you could complete the ICAEW’s “Certificate of Finance Accountancy and Business”. During the higher apprenticeship you’ll train with an employer for 1-2 years, and then may be able to go on to finish the full ACA with your employer.  So, if you’re doing an intermediate or advanced level apprenticeship, you could gain qualifications from the “Association of Accounting Technicians”. You can then use those qualifications to study for the ICAEW’s ACA qualification.

ICAEW works with finance employers to create two great higher apprenticeships:

Higher Apprenticeship in Assurance and Audit

You will work in assurance (helping businesses manage financial risks, which means making sure the company uses money sensibly) and audit (making sure a company’s financial records are fair and accurate).

Your tasks could include checking that the financial statements of the company are correct and up to date, and keeping track of products the company owns.

You will gain technical knowledge, experience and skills as well as other important workplace capabilities like communication, IT and time management. You can work towards the ICAEW’s Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business qualification.

Higher Apprenticeship in Tax

Accountancy apprenticeships teach you technical skills as well as wider workplace abilities like communication and teamwork

You will work in different tax areas, helping companies figure out what tax they owe the government, and making sure they pay it on time.

Your tasks could include preparing tax returns and filling out tax forms. You will have the opportunity to gain the ICAEW’s Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business qualification.

You will gain technical knowledge, experience and skills as well as other important workplace capabilities like presenting, commercial awareness, and team work.

Learn more about both higher apprenticeships, the entry requirements and where you can go after completion.

Another organisation, called the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) offer an accounting technician apprenticeship. Once you've finished your apprenticeship, you may be able to complete more training to become an accountant.

2. You'll gain experience and skills while working

With an apprenticeship, you’ll learn the theory behind accountancy from a training provider like a college. You’ll then get the chance to try out your new knowledge in the workplace, such as accountancy or finance firm.

You’ll develop practical and technical skills, as well as real-life experience on the job. You will usually be given a mentor to help make sure you reach your goals and targets.

Accountancy apprenticeships take up to 4 years, and you’ll be working at least 30 hours per week. You can even get started straight from school or college – bonus!

Your tasks will vary depending on the apprenticeship, but they could include:

  • Filing and faxing.
  • Emailing and typing.
  • Taking calls from clients.
  • Helping with payroll, which means making sure employees get paid.
  • Process invoices, which means helping the company pay the right people the correct amount.
  • Helping to prepare financial reports that show how the company is using their money.

As well as learning the skills associated with accountancy, an apprenticeship also lets you learn other business skills. You'll be working alongside accountants and financial pros, so you'll see what a real-life workplace is like.

The skills you'll gain include: 

  • People skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • Presenting information to clients and your colleagues.
  • IT skills and digital abilities.
  • Commercial awareness, which means learning about the wider finance industry.

3. You don't have to go to university

University isn’t the right path for everyone. An accountancy apprenticeship means you can avoid the huge cost and debt of going to uni. You’ll kick-start your career straight from school.

'ICAEW apprentice: "I've learnt so much more than I ever would through reading a textbook"'

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As an apprentice you’re giving yourself a real head-start: you’ll have a professional qualification with fantastic experience and skills to back it up. If you do change your mind later, you may actually be able to use your higher apprenticeship as a fast-track to a degree.

But it’s up to you to decide what path is best. You may prefer university. To help you decide, read our guide to apprenticeships vs university.

It’s also worth pointing out that you can complete the full ACA by doing a school or college leaver programme. Read ICAEW's higher apprenticeship's guide to learn more.

4. You'll earn money

An apprenticeship lets you save for your future, without the debt of university

The average apprenticeship wage is £170 per week, though this will vary depending on the employer linked to your apprenticeship.As well as meaning you avoid the costs and debt of going to university, an apprenticeship actually allows you to start earning straight away.

Your wage could increase as you take on more tasks and responsibility in the office.

During your apprenticeship, you’ll also get a holiday allowance – just like a regular staff member!

Matthew Oliver, ICAEW Chartered Accountant, says: "Chartered accountants earn more. For those who qualify with us and work in business, the average salary globally is £90.2k."

5. You'll have fun

An accountancy apprenticeship lets you learn how to creatively solve problems, work together in a team – all while working towards a rewarding, respected profession.

But don’t take our word for it. Let’s hear from Michael French, who’s doing an ICAEW higher apprenticeship in tax. His role is as a tax technician at PwC.

“There isn’t just one thing I enjoy about my job as a tax technician - there are many! I really like the fact that I can see the things I learn in the classroom being put straight into practice in the industry. By having that hands-on experience, I have learnt so much more than I ever would have done through reading a textbook.

“I also really like the fact that there is a lot of variety in what I do - it really helps to keep me interested and motivated. Since starting my career, I have found myself working with a vast number of clients in many different situations. I am learning something new every day and constantly developing on a personal and professional level.”

6. They're easy to find

You can get started by searching for accountancy apprenticeships in your area on the government website.

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Career Zone: Accountancy

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