Many paths to take – the ATT’s educational offerings

Many paths to take - the ATT's educational offerings

By Emma Rawson, ATT Technical Officer.

Many paths to take – the ATT’s educational offerings

Readers may well be familiar with the well-trodden path into a tax career of going to university, getting a degree, and joining a graduate scheme which allows you to work towards one of the professional body qualifications such as the ATT. However, there are many more ways to kick start a tax career with the ATT.

Many young people are understandably concerned about the cost of going to university – according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies in 2017, the average student in England will graduate with debts of over £50,000. In addition, the world of work is changing, as are the priorities and focus of both employers and individuals.

In response to these changes, the ATT has broadened its range of qualifications and entry routes into the profession. As well as the traditional ATT qualification, other options include an apprenticeship programme and flexible online Foundation Qualifications.

The ATT apprenticeship scheme

The ATT is proud to be an approved assessment organisation for the Level 4 Professional Taxation Technician Apprenticeship.

This is a modern Trailblazer Apprenticeship which provides the opportunity for individuals to combine a valuable qualification with a chance to develop the practical knowledge, skills and hands on experience employers are looking for.

The ATT Apprenticeship combines an initial training phase of at least 12 months (during which the apprentice has to spend at least 20% of their time engaged in off-the-job training) with a formal End-Point Assessment (EPA). The EPA comprises two separate elements – a role simulation and a portfolio of evidence – which enable the apprentice to demonstrate their real world skills and reflect on what they have achieved. Apprentices also study for the ATT qualification during their training phase, and have to successfully complete the required exams before completing their apprenticeship.

One of the most attractive aspects of apprenticeships for many employers is the potential for funding support towards the cost of training eligible apprentices:

  • The ATT Apprenticeship has been classified as eligible for funding at band 9, which means there is a maximum contribution of £8,000 available towards training costs.
  • For those employers that pay the Apprenticeship Levy, provided all other conditions are met, funding for the apprenticeship can be taken from their digital levy account.
  • For employers that do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy, provided they are willing to co-invest 5% of the costs, the Government will pay the remaining 95% assuming that the total cost is within the maximum funding band.

It should however be noted that this support is only available for English apprenticeships – employers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can still enter employees into the ATT apprenticeship but will receive no government funding.

Whilst many people associate apprenticeships with young people and school leavers, it is important to note that funding is also available to existing staff provided that they are receiving significantly new training.  There is no upper age limit on who can take up an apprenticeship; the individual just needs to be over 16.

The ATT Apprenticeship is therefore a cost effective way of increasing the tax skills and capability of both new recruits and existing staff.

Since its launch in 2017 the ATT Apprenticeship has already proved popular, with over 650 apprentices currently enrolled.

Foundation Qualifications

For those looking for a more flexible introduction to tax, the ATT offers online Foundation Qualifications in partnership with Tolley.

These qualifications are ideal for those that work in:

  • Tax – for example junior staff looking to extend their knowledge, book-keepers and anyone looking for the first step towards the formal ATT qualification.
  • Accountancy – including those looking to move over to tax or be seconded to a tax department.
  • Related professions such as lawyers dealing with private clients, or surveyors requiring an overview of tax including capital allowances.

The main attraction of the Foundation Qualifications is that they are provided entirely online and can be worked through at the individual’s own pace, allowing them to fit study in around work and other personal commitments.

There are currently three different Foundation Qualifications available, covering:

  • Personal Tax
  • Business Tax
  • VAT Compliance

The Foundation Qualifications are all independent from each other, can be studied in any order and individuals can choose to study for any number of them. They provide excellent introductory knowledge in the above areas.

The study materials have been written with self-directed study in mind. The manuals are in simple language and explain the concepts before digging into the details. So for Business Taxation, there is are explanations of what a sole trader business is, what a partnership is, what a set of accounts are, what a profit and loss account is, before getting into the tax.

The majority of Foundation Qualifications are completed in between three and twelve months.  However, the first candidate to pass one of our Foundation Qualifications did so in just five weeks by studying the course two days a week full-time.

Foundation Qualifications continue to increase in popularity, with over 400 students signing up for them in 2019, and the ATT is looking to extend its offering to include Transfer Pricing in the near future.

“I completed both the VAT compliance and business tax foundation in the first few months of starting my job. Having previously had no experience in tax, these foundations were incredibly useful for giving me a basic introduction to the core principles in tax. I would recommend these to anyone starting out their career as they give you a solid understanding, which can be built upon later when studying for the ATT exams.”

Grace King, RSM

In addition to the main UK Foundation Qualifications, the ATT also offers a non-UK VAT Compliance Diploma. This is an online qualification designed to develop expertise in specific areas of VAT, and is available for Malta, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Traditional route

Of course the traditional route of professional body qualification and membership remains open, and continues to be popular, with over 5,600 students currently registered with the ATT.

To complete the ATT Qualification, students must achieve:

  1. Passes in two compulsory Certificate papers (Personal Taxation and Business Taxation)
  2. Passes in three compulsory Computer Based Examinations (Law, Professional Responsibilities & Ethics and Principles of Accounting)
  3. Passes in any one of the other four Certificate papers (Business Compliance, Corporate Taxation, Inheritance Tax, Trusts & Estates or VAT)

On achievement of the ATT Qualification and with two years’ experience, students can apply for ATT membership. Members are entitled to use the letters ATT after their name and the descriptive title ‘Taxation Technician’ and receive a range of other benefits.

The ATT CTA Tax Pathway also offers a streamlined route to qualification for those wishing to complete both the ATT and CTA qualification.

You can hear more from past ATT students here.

Where to look for more information

More information on all of the above qualifications can be found on the ATT website.

If you or your employees are looking to gain a tax qualification then the Qualification Navigator is certainly worth investigating. This tool allows prospective employers and individuals to identify the most appropriate path for them based on their circumstances.


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