You do not have to have a degree in accounting, business or maths to become an accountant! Graduates in all subjects, from Anthropology to Zoology can and do become successful accountants.
Accounting employers often require good academic grades with a good mathematics GCSE and 280 UCAS points usually being minimum requirements. Top employers usually require a 2:1 but smaller firms may accept a 2:2 if you have good A-level grades.
Accountancy employers also look for a number of key skills, including numeracy, communication, teamworking, time management, analytical skills and attention to detail.
Chartered accountants provide financial advice to clients that range from multinational organisations and governmental bodies to small independent businesses. Accountants often specialise in particular areas of practice, including audit, management consultancy, recovery, forensic accountancy, taxation, assurance, and corporate finance.
- Job profile of a chartered accountant from the Prospects website
- Inside Careers: Chartered Accountancy
Chartered certified accountants
Chartered certified accountants provide a wide range of accountancy services in a variety of sectors. These range from working with clients in private practice to financial reporting and advice within organisations.
Chartered management accountants
Chartered management accountants use financial information to analyse business performance and provide strategic advice to management colleagues.
Accounting technicians support professional accountants and business managers by preparing financial information. They may work in industry, commerce, private practice or the public sector.
This route is open to graduates who may not have achieved the academic qualifications required for immediate entry to a Chartered Accountant training contract. Qualified Accounting Technicians can continue their training to achieve the Chartered (ACA) qualification.
- Job profile of an Accounting Technician from the Prospects website
- The Association of Accounting Technicians
The difference between ACA, ACCA and CIMA
- 15 exams* and 450 days of relevant work experience
- Often required for the ‘Big Four’
- Your employer has to be an approved institute for training to be able to offer the ACA
- 14 exams* and 36 months of relevant work experience
- Suitable for practice, audit or tax
- Focuses on accounting principles
CIMA – Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
- 12 exams
- Suitable for business and industry
- Focuses on management accounting, business strategy and financial strategy
*You may have exemptions from your degree if relevant
The "Big Four"
These are the world’s largest accounting firms, providing accounting, audit and other professional services to clients ranging from multinationals to owner-managed businesses. As well as accountancy and audit, services offered by these firms include tax, management consultancy, risk management, forensic accounting, insolvency, actuarial and much more. Each of these firms recruits several hundred graduates a year into a variety of roles and training programmes.
The “medium-sized” category covers a large range of firms: the largest of these are around half the size of Big 4 firms while the smaller medium-sized firms may have one or two offices and around ten partners. The firms listed below are mostly at the larger end of this category and within the top 50 firms in the UK.
- BDO Top 10 firm
- Grant Thornton - The largest UK firm after the Big Four
- H.W.Fisher - Top 30 firm based in London. Works with entrepreneurial small-medium enterprises (SMEs), large corporates and high-net worth individuals.
- Hazlewoods - Gloucestershire firm recruiting trainee chartered and certified accountants
- PKF Littlejohn - Based in Canary Wharf.
- Mazars - UK firm of Europe-wide partnership
- Menzies - Top 20 firm with a network of offices across Surrey, Hampshire and London
- Moore Kingston Smith - 60 partners and 500+ professional staff in London and the South East
- Moore UK - Top 10 firm with an international network
- Price Bailey - Top 30 firm with offices in London, the east of England, the Channel Islands and the Caribbean
- RSM - The seventh largest accountancy and business advisory firm in the UK, and part of a worldwide network.
- Saffery Champness - Top 20 firm focusing on private client work for high net worth individuals. Offices in the UK, Guernsey and Switzerland.
- Smith & Williamson - Top 10 firm with graduate trainee programmes in assurance and business services, business tax, private client tax services and investment management.
Firms in Kent
Many of these firms are part of larger national and international networks and at least five of the top 30 firms are represented in Kent.
- Adams & Moore - Offices in London and Dartford and an international client base.
- Barnes Roffe - London firm with an office in Dartford and a national client base of owner managed businesses, large corporations and public sector not for profit organisations
- Burgess Hodgson - Canterbury firm with City clients
- Chavereys - Faversham firm specialising in agriculture and rural businesses
- Creaseys - Tunbridge Wells firm working with owner managed and mid-market businesses across a wide range of sectors
- Crowe UK - The 8th largest audit firm in the UK with eight offices including two in Kent (Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells)
- Dendy Neville - Maidstone firm
- Haines Watts - Top 20 firm with offices in Canterbury and Maidstone
- Kreston Reeves - Offices in London, Canterbury, Chatham, Sandwich and several locations in Sussex. Part of a global network of independent accounting firms
- Macintyre Hudson - Top 20 independent firm with 12 offices including Canterbury and Maidstone
- McCabe Ford Williams - Chartered Accountants, Tax Specialists and Insolvency professionals with offices in Ashford, Cranbrook, Dover, Herne Bay, Lenham, Maidstone and Sittingbourne
- UHY Hacker Young - Top 20 firm with 27 offices including 3 in Kent (Ashford, Sittingbourne and Broadstairs)
Find out more
Here are some sources that will enable you to find out more.
- ACCA Global
- Inside Careers Guide to Chartered Accountancy
- Business Insights – Accountancy and Financial Management from Kent Business School
- Accountancy Age - News, jobs and lists of top firms
- Target Jobs careers in accountancy, banking and finance
- ICAEW Training Vacancies
- ACCA Training Vacancies
- Employers offering CIMA training
- CIPFA Training Vacancies
- Inside Careers chartered accountancy jobs
- TARGET Jobs Accountancy and Financial Management
- Accountancy Age Jobs - UK Financial & Accounting job opportunities ranging from Graduate and Trainee to Finance Director vacancies.
- Robert Half - Recruitment agency specialising in accountancy and finance jobs. The site also includes advice on applications, career development and salaries.
- Efinancial careers