Businesses and organisations need people with varied backgrounds, interests and knowledge to help them become as successful as possible. There are many ways to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, so whether you’re a graduate, a school leaver or a professional looking to move industry, there is a route for you.

It is quite a common belief that you need an accountancy or finance degree to become an accountant, but this is not the case. In fact, a majority of accountancy firms open up their graduate schemes to all disciplines. So even if you have an English degree, you can still apply to an accountancy graduate scheme.

However, some accountancy firms require you to have a degree in a finance based subject, such as accountancy, finance, economics or business studies, but this tends to be the exception, rather than the rule.

Proficiency in Maths is just one requirement to become an accountant, with employers valuing softer skills including communication and team work which is why so many arts and humanities students find their place in the accountancy profession.

Science and engineering graduates have also found that they can apply the skills they learnt in their degree in the wider context of the accountancy profession.

As you can see in the chart below, the accountancy profession is for everyone of all degree backgrounds, not just accounting and finance. You can read profiles by students from a range of degree backgrounds here.


What qualifications do accountancy employers look for?

Degree requirements vary from employer to employer, with some looking for a 2:1 in any discipline, to a 2:2 or some requiring you to have a numerate degree such as economics or accounting. It does really depend on the individual employer. Check out our latest jobs here to see details for what each company requires.

School leavers

If you want to start work straight away, you can chose from a Higher Apprenticeship, a school leaver programme, or AAT. Likewise, if you want to go to university, you can do a degree followed by the ACA qualification, or combine both through and employer-affiliated degree for the ICAEW qualification.

The requirements for a school leaver schemes differ depending on the employer, however they often require at least a grade B in Maths at GCSE level. However, this does differ from employer to employer so we recommend researching a few companies to see what they require of their school leavers.


For all entry routes, you will need to apply directly to an employer. As well as having a strong academic background, they will be looking for candidates who stand out from the crowd and can bring something extra to their organisation. Among other things, you’ll need to show a genuine interest in, and commitment to, your chosen career path.

Entry requirements will vary depending on the employer and the programme you are following. Generally, employers will look for a minimum of a B in GCSE Maths and English and 280+ UCAS points at A-levels (or their equivalents).

You don’t need a degree in accounting, finance or business to study for the ACA. While the subject isn’t important, you will need to have a strong academic record. Entry requirements differ between employers, but, in general they’ll be seeking at least a 2:1 and everyone who undertakes the ACA must have at least two A2 levels and three GCSE passes (or their equivalents).

Do I need an A-level in maths?

Again, it’s a common belief that you need a maths A-level to train to become an accountant, but this is not the case. It might surprise you to learn that you don’t need Maths as one of your a-levels. That’s not to say academics aren’t important. For graduate schemes, you will often need a certain number of UCAS points, but this varies from employer to employer.

Most employers look for students with maths at GCSE level at grade B/5 or above, but do not require it at A-level. Employers encourage applicants from all degree backgrounds and welcome the variety of skills you develop in any degree. Not just accountancy.

There may be some firms that require you to have a maths A-level, but this depends on the firm and again, is often the exception not the rule.

So as long as you have enough UCAS points, it doesn’t matter which A-Levels you have done.

In conclusion, you can train to become an accountant without a maths A-Level. However, you will need at least a B at GCSE and many employers require a minimum number of UCAS points, as well as a 2.2 degree for graduate schemes. For more information on what individual employers require, you can take a look at our employer directory.

Alternative routes to the ACA

There are no set entry requirements to start ICAEW CFAB. When you’ve completed ICAEW CFAB you can continue onto the ACA. If you haven’t completed ICAEW CFAB you want to start the ACA, you’ll need to have two A-level passes (grades A*-E) or equivalent. You’ll also need three GCSE passes (grades 9-4/A-C) or equivalent.

Before applying to an employer, check their entry requirements. GCSE, UCAS points and degree result requirements vary.

If you choose to go to university, employers welcome all degrees. If you have completed a degree that is not directly related to accountancy, you can still use the knowledge and skills you have developed in your future career.

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