Accountancy apprenticeships offer a great career route if you’re looking to gain a professional qualification, while also getting a head start in the world of work. If you’re looking for an alternative to full time education then an apprenticeship could be just what you’re looking for.
Accountancy apprenticeships involve a combination of academic study and on the job learning so you can gain the skills and knowledge needed to fast-track your career. You can even gain a chartered accountant status with an accounting apprenticeship!
Which accountancy apprenticeships are available?
Which areas of accounting you work in will all depend on the level of apprenticeship you choose to take. There are a number of different levels available, these include:
Intermediate (Level 2) – This is equal to a gaining 5 GCSE passes and includes accounts or finance assistant, credit controller/collector, financial services customer adviser and investment operations administrator.
Advanced (Level 3) – This is the equivalent of 2 A-Levels and covers an assistant accountant apprenticeship, advanced credit controller/debt collection specialist, debt adviser, compliance and risk officer, financial services administrator, investment operations technician, motor finance specialist, payroll administrator and senior financial services customer adviser.
Higher (Level 4 and 5) – These are the same as foundation level degrees. Accountancy apprenticeships level 4 and 5 include professional accounting or taxation technician, actuarial technician, financial adviser, Internal audit practitioner, paraplanner and investment operations specialist.
Degree (Level 6 and 7) – This is equivalent to a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree. Degree apprenticeships in accounting include actuary, financial services professional, accountancy or taxation professional, internal audit professional, senior compliance and risk specialist and senior investment and commercial banking professional.
What happens during an accounting apprenticeship?
During accounting apprenticeships, you’ll split your time between 80% learning in the workplace while earning a salary and gaining key skills and experience. You’ll also be around people who are already qualified who will be able to provide you with as much support as you need.
A further 20% of your time will be spent with your training provider/assessor who will offer support and guidance. You’ll also be required to complete an end-point assessment which evidences your ability to do the job you’ve been training for.
The Resourcing Team at BDO explains how ‘taking on an apprenticeship in accounting allows you to fast track your career.
It offers a combination of relevant work experience, achievement of a world class professional qualification and the development of skills and behaviours required to be a competent professional in your chosen field.
You’ll gain invaluable experience in a commercial environment, working on real business projects alongside leading industry professionals. All without accumulating a university debt.’
What are the different areas of accounting?
Accounting branches across a wide range of roles and relates to every single industry. After all, every employer needs someone to organise their payroll and VAT returns, whether that be a construction organisation or retail! We’ve put together a list of the different areas you could work within:
An auditor plays a specialist role of someone who analyses and reviews financial accounts of an organisation to ensure that financial records and statements are accurate, meet legal requirements and validity.
Financial accounting is used to record, report and summarise an organisation’s transactions. You will typically prepare financial statements such as an income statement, balance sheet and record cash flow, which can then be used to analyse operational and financial performance over a business period.
Tax accountants ensure that an organisation or individual is meeting legislative requirements. You could be responsible for analysing financial records, filing and preparing tax forms, preparing ledgers and advising an organisation or individual on new laws surrounding tax.
Forensic accountants are involved with looking into fraudulent activities and other financial falses. Working in this area will see you evaluating information related to finances, which will allow lawyers to identify criminals and prosecute accordingly. They also work with other companies to recognise illegal actions and resolve any disputes.
Consulting and management within accounting will see you supporting an organisation’s operations, managing costs and sharing insights into business growth. You’ll work with an organisation or client to ensure strategic objectives are met and exceeded enabling a business to grow.
ICAEW offers apprenticeships from Level 4 to Level 7, completing an apprenticeship with ICAEW will see you qualify with a full ACA or its certificate level modules ICAEW CFAB.
For a Level 4 apprenticeship with ICAEW, there aren’t set requirements for entry onto the apprenticeship but you will need GCSE passes at A-C or 9-4 on the new grading system in Maths & English. This is required to sit the end-point assessment, which shows you’re capable of working in the role. A Level 4 apprenticeship will usually last between 18-24 months. For a Level 7 apprenticeship, you will need the same plus 2 A-Level passes at A*-E. This will last between 36 and 48 months.
Employers and the Government cover the cost of your training so you wouldn’t have to worry about any tuition fees.
ACCA stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. In England, they offer two level of apprenticeships:
- ACCA Level 4 Accounting Technician Apprenticeship
The apprenticeship programme consists of 80% on the job training and a further 20% of time will be spent studying, which makes up the first part of the ACCA Qualification. You’ll discover the different aspects of finance and accounting, while building your knowledge and career to support you as a technician. This will also give you the opportunity for progression to a Chartered Certified Accountant status.
You will complete a range of different modules, which will explain the structure and functions within a range of business, while also learning about financial planning, verifying and reviewing accurate financial statements and information plus much more.
- ACCA Level 7 Professional Accountant Apprenticeship
This apprenticeship combines on-programme assessments and end-point assessment, which proves you have gained the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to fulfil your duties in an accounting role. They typically take around 36 months to complete, where you’ll develop crucial working knowledge, experience and technical skills. You will learn about building relationships and effective communication, business and accounting insights, problem solving and decision making plus much more.
AAT stands for Association of Accounting Technicians. They offer a number of apprenticeship qualifications starting at Level 2 up to Level 4. As a level 2 apprentice, you will be working as an Accounts/Finance Assistant, while developing an understanding of the world of finance and the role of an accountant. A Level 2 apprenticeship is equivalent to GCSEs and once you have completed this you may choose to progress onto a Level 3 apprenticeship, which is equal to A Levels. This is an Assistant Accountant apprenticeship and will help you develop further as you gain more experience and responsibilities.
Again, this opens up different pathways for progression with many continuing their career journey onto a Level 4 apprenticeship, which will enable you to qualify as a Professional Accounting Technician.
CIMA stands for Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. They offer two levels of apprenticeship.
- Level 4 Professional Accounting Technician Apprenticeship
During this apprenticeship, you will gain a CIMA Cert BA, which will give you the chance to gain business and finance skills, as well as the knowledge needed to work within accounting and management. It’s considered an entry-level qualification for those with little or no experience.
- Level 7 Accountancy / Taxation Professional Apprenticeship
A Level 7 apprenticeship will see you studying towards gaining the CIMA Professional Qualification, through the Accountant Standard. You’ll gain invaluable experience, crucial skills and behaviour sets as well as gaining a recognised worldwide qualification and the knowledge to go with it. This will enable you to kick-start your career in business and accountancy.
Accounting Apprenticeship Salary
Accounting apprenticeship salaries are likely to vary depending on the employer. The minimum you will be paid is £4.15 if you are aged 16-18 or 19 years old and in your first year. If you are aged 19 or over and have finished your first year, you must be paid the National Minimum Wage or National Living Age Rate for your age.
Which employers offer accountancy apprenticeships?
There is a wide range of employers offering accounting apprenticeships, these include the following:
You’ll also find accounting apprenticeships with employers across different industries too! Some smaller local companies may also offer apprenticeships, although they don’t always advertise so if you know of an accounting firm near you then you could always drop off your CV, check their website or give them a ring to see if they are looking for an apprentice.
What opportunities are available upon completion?
Once you have completed an accountancy apprenticeship, there is an extensive range of options available. You might decide to progress on a higher level apprenticeship or even find a full-time accounting job with the qualifications you’ve already gained.
Employers love experience and you’ll have gained plenty of this while working in an apprenticeship, with colleagues who are industry experts sharing insights and knowledge. And the best part is that you’ll have a nationally recognised qualification while getting paid without having the burden of tuition fees.