How to move into accountancy from from another career

How to move into accountancy from from another career

The prospect of changing careers can be worrying, but you shouldn't let that put you off if it's your dream

It is common for people to change careers multiple times in their lives, particularly now when the business world is changing and job roles are coming and going.

This means our professional lives are an evolving journey, and what we want to do in our twenties may not match our ambitions in our fifties.

Businesses have adapted to this, catering to people who want to embark on a different career at a later stage in their lives. If becoming an accountant is your next ambition, here are some ways you can prepare.

Consider why you want to be an accountant

Working in a career you enjoy is so important: you cannot do your best work unless you believe in what you are doing.

When you interview for your first accounting role, it is likely you will be asked why you want the job. This is relevant for anyone applying to any role, but as a career changer your interviewer might be particularly focused on asking you why you have chosen accounting, and why now.

Spend time considering exactly why you want to become an accountant, and make sure it is definitely the career for you. What attracts you about it? Is it the career progression opportunities, the chance to work closely with clients, or the problem-solving aspect of the job that interests you?

Identify your relevant skills

As well as a broad range of soft and interpersonal skills, accountants need to be great at problem-solving, communicating, and analysing. Accountants, especially those in practice, need to be excellent at working with clients and building strong relationships.

In this digital age, accountants also need to be tech-savvy. Not only are a lot of traditional accounting tasks now automated because of new technologies, but the industry is also facing new regulations like GDPR and Making Tax Digital. Accountants need to keep up-to-date with these changes so they can guide their customers through them smoothly.

Take a course

You need to take an accountancy qualification to move into a career in accounting. The AAT qualification is the minimum qualification level for any accountant, and to become a chartered accountant you need to complete an ACCA, ACA, or CIMA qualification.

What is great for career changers is that you can complete these qualifications in your own time, at your own pace by doing an online learning course.  You don’t even need a degree to do get started.

You can decide to embark on an accounting course while still working at your old job, ensuring you do not have to stop earning to pursue your desired career. Online learning provider, AVADO, for example offers a range of flexible courses, both in AAT and ACCA, including the chance to gain the full ACCA qualification.

Consider your options

Before applying for your first accountancy job you need to think about where you would like to take your accounting career. You must first consider whether you would like to start in practice, which involves working for an accountancy firm like one of the Big Four, or go into industry and be part of the finance team in a company.

When you have chosen between practice and industry you then need to decide what job role you want.

Would you like to specialise in auditing or taxation, financial accounting or government finance? Choosing the role you want may also help you decide between industry and practice.  Ensure you research the different job options, and try to speak to different people already working in those roles to discover which you are best suited to.

Submit a stellar application

Moving into accounting from another career is not necessarily a disadvantage and, in fact, you might bring new skills and fresh perspective, and therefore be attractive to a prospective employer. You will have built relevant skills in previous jobs, which you can use to explain why you would be an asset as an accountant.

Once you have decided where specifically you want to be in accounting, the key is to prepare. Research the skills you need for the specific role then write down how your previous experience demonstrates your abilities in this. If there is an area you do not have experience in, show how you plan to gain this skill.

Even if you do not have any official experience in accounting, you do need to prove you are interested in and committed to it. There are different ways you could slot this in to your daily life, from reading specific books and articles to attending networking events and talks.

 

If you would like to retrain as an accountant, don’t let worries that it is too late hold you back. If you are prepared to work hard, you will be able to gain a qualification while working in another job, putting you in a good position to apply for accounting roles. Businesses understand the current professional landscape and so will welcome your decision to change careers if you show commitment to your future.

Learn more about accounting qualifications offered at AVADO.

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