Accountancy is a great career to get into and with the perks of career progression, great salaries and having the opportunity to grow and develop your expertise with different qualifications, it’s a no brainer for those interested in finance to pursue this career path. However, with all the qualifications available in accountancy & tax, it can be quite difficult to figure out which qualification to take for your chosen career path. Here, we look into the different types of accountancy and the qualifications needed for each to help you determine which accountancy qualification is best for you.

Types of accountancy

Although some employers prefer finance graduates with the graduate schemes they offer, there are also many options, sometimes within the same company, and with other large companies to train and gain experience to become a chartered accountant as a school leaver. So, you don’t have to go to university to become an accountant and you can progress and develop your expertise through time with the qualifications you choose to do. There are many different areas of accountancy you can specialist in which all require different qualifications. The two different types of accounting you can get into are Management Accountancy and Financial Accountancy. Both require different qualifications and provide different career outcomes depending on your preference; you can also become chartered to work in either type of accountancy. Management accountants work internally in companies to provide financial insight – this includes helping with financial decision making, forecasting and budget analysis. On the other hand, Financial accountants provide information externally to shareholders, creditors and investors.

It is possible to become an accountant without being chartered however, your options for career and salary progressions may be limited depending in the field you work in. A popular option for graduates is to become a chartered accountant as you will be able to work in different types of disciplines and businesses whether it be working internally for a fashion company or working in specialist areas such as auditing, corporate finance, taxation or even forensic accounting and business recovery. As a chartered accountant you can choose to work in either management or public sector and financial accountancy.

The different qualifications

There are five main qualifications you can take at any stage of your career depending on your career goals. The qualifications can take different amounts of time as they require time for exams as well as acquiring a certain amount of work experience to qualify. Qualifications are offered by educational institutes that you join as a member depending on the qualification you obtain. For example, if you want to become a chartered accountant you can work towards the ACA qualification with ICAEW, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. The five main qualifications for accounting are AAT, ACA, ACCA, CIMA and CIPFA – all can lead to different types of accountancy depending on your preference.

Which accountancy qualification is best for me?


The difference between the AAT and ACA/ACCA qualifications is that the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification is for those who are school leavers and don’t plan to go to university to pursue accountancy. Once you have completed this you can then move on to becoming a chartered accountant. The ACA/ACCA qualifications are both to train accountants to become chartered – the difference between the two is that with the Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) qualification normally graduates move into doing this to become chartered however you can take this qualification as a school leaver also on the ICAEW School Leaver Programme. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification, however, is better suited for those who want to progress in management accounting, auditing and taxation.


You can also get into management accounting with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification which can be taken independently from an employer and you can become specialised in that area of accounting. For those interested in working in public finance, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) qualification may be the best option for you as CIPFA accountants move on to work in firms where public money needs to be managed such as in public services and national audit agencies.


There are other qualifications you can do if you want to work in tax such as the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CTA) qualification for graduates and the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) qualification if you are a school leaver.

Since there are so many options to consider when looking into pursuing an accountancy career, the great thing about accountancy and tax is that you can constantly study and progress to further your career prospects. Here we answered the questions which accountancy career is best for me? If you are interested in becoming an accountant why not consider getting chartered, you can learn more about how to become an ICAEW chartered account here.

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