Which accountancy qualification is right for you?

With so many professional accountancy qualifications available, becoming qualified can seem like a bewildering task.

Patricia Barlow, Senior Accounting Tutor at Babington Group, will walk you through your options in her webinar on the 18th October at 7.30pm. She’ll look at AAT, CIMA, ACCA and ACA, and cover topics including:

  • Why there are so many accounting qualifications
  • Entry level qualifications
  • Advanced qualifications
  • How different qualifications can complement each other
  • Which qualifications are best suited to different career goals

Sign up to attend today.


New Training Programme for Public Sector Accountants

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) have joint forces with PwC to introduce a new learning programme for public sector accountants.

The ICAEW IPSAS Certificate is an online learning programme to help accountants improve their understanding of the main developments in public sector accounting. There are no entry requirements needed for the programme, The self-study programme has 8 study modules and involves 30-40 study hours on average, over 12 months.

Patrice Schumesch, PwC global IPSAS partner, said:
‘An increasing number of governments and other public sector entities are implementing IPSAS as part of their wider public finance management reform. Training of staff is often a major challenge for them. Our programme helps them deliver consistent quality across the organisation and achieve their learning objectives.’

View the latest public sector roles on GAAPweb.


When it comes to accountancy qualifications, there’s very little doubt that they are one of the first things employers look for to demonstrate that a candidate has an increased depth of technical knowledge, and a greater understanding of how the sector works.

When it comes to choosing which qualification to do however, there’s a lot of deliberation over which route is best to go down. There are three main professional qualifications, and they are ACA, ACCA and CIMA.


ACA has 15 modular exams, which are split over three sections – certificate, professional and advanced level.

The exams often focus on how students are able to demonstrate and communicate their understanding of a topic, rather than simple learning and retention, with the aim of creating knowledgeable, flexible accountants.

The qualification requires students to gain suitable work experience with an authorised training employer; these are typically within accountancy firms rather than commercial business.


ACCA has 14 modular exams, plus professional ethics module and practical experience requirement, split into two main sections – fundamentals and professional. All nine fundamental papers must be sat, plus the first three professional papers; two final papers from the second stage of professional can be chosen.

The qualification covers a range of accounting, audit, taxation, and ethics topics, providing students with a broad understanding of both professional services and commercial accounting knowledge.


CIMA is for those who do not bring exemptions from university studies nor hold the AAT, study is preceded by the certificate in business accounting stage (five exams).

The qualification itself comprises of twelve exams split across three levels – operational, management, and strategic – with each level consisting of three computer-based objective tests and one human-marked case study. The objective tests are designed to assess knowledge, while the case studies test understanding and application in a commercial setting.

Because of the above, CIMA is largely studied by those in commercial business, though some in outsourcing divisions of accountancy practice will choose this option.


Here’s what three accountancy experts from REED had to say about the above qualifications:

Rajeev Tozar, Head of Commercial Finance:

“There’s quite a relevant debate at the moment about whether a qualified by experience person can do the same role as a fully qualified accountant.

“I find that less-skilled roles within accountancy can be filled by those who are not qualified, but I think as you get into a managerial role, you have to be able to piece things together, and that’s where the qualifications come into play.

“I generally find that people who are studying CIMA, or who have studied CIMA were more commercially focused.”


Julian D’Oyley, Head of Financial Accounts:

“My team ask me what qualification to take – CIMA or ACCA – and I always say you can do either.

“If you have aspirations to be a financial director, then as many are CIMA qualified as there are ACCA qualified. For this kind of role you need to be in charge of both the commercial and reporting aspect of accountancy.”


Lee Richards, Finance Director:

“The choice you make about which qualification you’re going to take does have a bearing on the way that employers will ultimately view you, and the types of roles that they will perceive that you are most suitable for.

An ACA route would generally tend to lead you down more of a technical accounting type role, and CIMA would lend itself more towards business partnering.

“If you find yourself in one role, and want to be in the other, then I generally think you’re going to have to work quite hard to move from the technical side towards the commercial, or vice versa.”


Search and apply for your next ACA, ACCA or CIMA qualified role now

Meeting accountants of the future

GAAPweb attended 9 top ranked Accountancy and Finance university graduate fairs in 2015 offering future accountants CV and career advice. We’ve also held a number of CV clinics with students at London School of Business and Finance.

Universities we visited include:

But don’t worry if you missed us…we’ll be back in 2016.

View the latest Graduate roles on GAAPweb.

How can you get valuable work experience?

Getting on the career ladder in your chosen field can be extremely difficult, especially when recruiters will want you to have some work experience. But getting working experience is a crucial way of getting yourself noticed in the job search and also gives you the opportunity to put your accountancy knowledge into practice and the chance to see what areas you enjoy.

Transferable skills – If you don’t have any accountancy experience think of the transferable skills you may have. You could have gained these skills from previous jobs, university projects, voluntary work, sports or hobbies. For example, as captain of a football team you would have developed key skills in leadership, team work and motivation.

Here are our top tips for finding work experience:

Your network  

Many opportunities will come from your network of contacts. Start with friends and family and find out if they know anyone working in accountancy who they could help you approach to ask about work experience.

Expand your network   

Expand your network by meeting the right people at networking events. Check out websites such as www.meetup.org.uk to see if there are any suitable networks in your area. Visit careers fairs and industry conferences to meet contacts in your field and employers.

You can also network online. Follow industry experts on Twitter and other social networks.


Check out websites such as www.do-it.org.uk and volunteeringmatters.org.uk which advertise voluntary opportunities in your area. You can specifically search for Finance and Accountancy opportunities.

Speculative Opportunities   

Contact local businesses to see if they are able to offer you a week of unpaid work experience. Work experience is a great way to get your foot in the door and can lead to a permanent role.

Temporary Work   

Many recruiters will take on temporary staff during busy periods such as year end. Register with a number of accountancy Recruitment Consultants advertising on GAAPweb and let them know that you’re looking for temporary jobs.

GAAPweb will be attending a number of graduate fairs across the UK including:

Search for the latest Graduate roles on GAAPweb.

GAAPweb partner with Personal Career Management

GAAPweb, the #1 job site for accountancy and finance professionals and part of Trinity Mirror Digital Recruitment (TMDR), have selected Personal Career Management, the UK’s leading career coaching company, to provide GAAPweb candidates with specialist career coaching support.

Sarah EL-Doori, Marketing Director at TMDR, commented on the new partnership:

“We’ve seen a growing demand from accountancy professionals for support to help them in their job search or whilst making a career transition. It’s a challenging job market and candidates are looking to explore potential options open to them, as well as making their applications more successful. They understand the value of bringing in professional support to make a transition more effective. We wanted to work with a partner in this field who we could trust with our candidates. Personal Career Management provides high level knowledge and expertise in all aspects of career management, whether the individual is looking to progress their career, review their options or find a new role.”

Corinne Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management and author of the UK’s number one CV book, adds:

“We’re thrilled with our new partnership with GAAPweb as we already have extensive experience of working with clients within the finance profession facing an array of career challenges. Being chosen for this partnership is both a great endorsement of our services and a natural fit for us.”

GAAPweb candidates can find out how career coaching or outplacement support can help with an introductory meeting with Personal Career Management.

More information can be found here