Accountancy is a varied field which accepts graduates from a range of degree disciplines. Career paths in this profession include Tax, Audit and Assurance, and Bookkeeping. There are two different fields in Accountancy: Management Accountancy, and Chartered Accountancy. While similar, the two require slightly different skills, and candidates should be aware of which field they'd like to go into if they are aiming to be accredited by CIMA, CIPFA, ACCA or ICAEW.
As a traditional vocation, there is a traditional route into the Accountancy profession - but graduates aren't limited to following that path. While it's true that a degree in Accountancy will give a candidate a good chance of landing a desirable job, it is not a prerequisite. Many of the larger firms offer graduates with other degrees the opportunity to earn a spot with a Training Contract.
The four largest Accountancy firms, Ernst and Young, PwC, Deloitte, and KPMG, take on thousands of graduates with Accountancy Training Contracts. Their scope of graduates is wide, and they offer many options. But competition for these esteemed schemes can be fierce, so candidates should be prepared.
How to Get a Job in Accountancy
Being aware of the requirements of the profession and knowing how to demonstrate those capabilities during the application process will help graduates land that first job in Accountancy.
Candidates should display the following:
Good Academic Qualifications
While an Accountancy degree helps, candidates can apply for traineeships, graduate schemes, or Accountancy-related jobs without having studied a relevant degree. Accountancy firms look for their candidates to be intelligent, with a minimum of a 2:1 (although some might take a lower classification), and good GCSEs in English and Maths.
Excellent Numeracy Skills
A GCSE in Maths is the minimum requirement for any Accountancy position. Numbers and figures are an accountant's livelihood, so competency is vital. Candidates should show experience working with numbers outside of their education, too, whether from a job which included cashing up in a shop, or from serving as their sports team's treasurer.
Work Experience and Internships
Graduates who have experience on a vacation scheme run by one of the bigger Accountancy firms, or even a few weeks work experience at a local firm, are more likely to catch the recruiter's eye. Employers will be impressed by the enthusiasm and drive shown by the candidate, and can trust that they understand how an Accountancy office functions.
Fantastic Analytical Skills
If a candidate wants to go into Auditing, analytic skills are extremely important. Auditing requires Accountants to measure how sound a business is, as well as the needs of that business. An ability to analyse large amounts of data, deduce meaning, and present the findings is important to demonstrate for a career in this field. Candidates could display their skill in noticing patterns, trends, and issues by highlighting their different degree backgrounds, History or Economics, for example.
A Methodological Approach
Accountancy work often involves important, sometimes critical, aspects of company security. With this in mind, candidates need to be meticulous in their approach and demonstrate a stringent work ethic and attention to detail. This is especially true of fields like Forensic Accountancy, where accountants search data for evidence of illegal activity.
Excellent Communication Skills
A lot of Accountancy work requires communication between different members of staff, so a candidate must demonstrate not only excellent written and oral communication skills, but also the ability to work as part of a team and support different departments.
Ability to Build and Maintain Relationships
Many Accountants are asked to work with clients on or off site, and they must be able to contract and undertake work from outside the firm. This requires developing good working relationships, being able to work harmoniously with others, and being a good representative for the firm. Candidates should be able to provide examples of their interpersonal skills, such as a role in the Student Union, or representing students as a Department Coordinator or Student Representative.
Affinity for Business
Management Accountants must have an affinity for business. While Chartered Accountants need to understand business functions and processes, Management Accountants are required to be able to help a business grow. Evidence of a good grasp of business is important - think skills and experiences in Development, Marketing, and Sales.