You’ve got your accountancy degree…what next?
5th Dec 2017
All the lectures, hours in the library, coursework and exams are nearly over, the finish line is in sight!
Firstly, well done on getting this far but how much have you thought about planning your career path in accountancy and finance? The decisions you make now will have a huge impact on how your career path will unfold, so here are some suggestions of things to consider.
It’s very cliché to talk about the old where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time but really you should be thinking even longer term. Where do you see yourself in 15 or 20 years’ time? Do you have ambitions to be a partner in an accountancy practice or a finance director in industry?
Maybe you see yourself working as a company accountant in an SME or indeed moving from accountancy into general management in industry. For any of these options, you’re going to want to get a recognised accountancy qualification but based on your long-term objectives, one qualification may be more relevant and useful for you than another.
Which accountancy qualification should I choose?
It’s important to choose a qualification that’s well respected and recognised internationally (who knows, you may end up heading abroad to work at some point). The main qualifications you’ll be considering are:
Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI / ACA)
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
With your degree, you’re likely to have good exam exemptions for these routes to qualification just depending on what modules you’ve studied.
As I’ve said, all three of these qualifications are extremely well regarded in the profession and gone are the days where one was regarded more highly than the other. However, if you see yourself joining a Big 4 firm or becoming a partner in an accountancy firm, you’re more than likely going to want to choose the ACA route and become a chartered accountant.
If you love the idea of working in a commercial role where you’re providing management information and getting into a finance business partnering type role, CIMA is probably the route for you. That being said, the ACCA is a great qualification as it covers all options and allows you a lot of flexibility in terms of changing industry and a practice environment if and when you decide to do that!
Let’s face it…it can be tough coming straight out of university and landing a trainee accountant role. Competition is tight with limited numbers of graduates being taken on in any one year. Many of the big firms and industry companies will advertise directly or work with recruitment agencies to identify the best new talent out there, so keep an eye on the main job boards.
However, if you’re not one of the lucky few to land a training contract or get a great job in industry with study support, you need a plan B which still ties in with your long-term career goals. Do you want to qualify as an accountant in practice? See if there any other openings in a firm that aren’t necessarily your number one choice but would allow you the opportunity to get your foot in the door and shine. Failing this, you may want to get some voluntary experience in a small local firm to add some relevant experience to your CV for the next opportunity that comes up.
You see yourself working as an accountant in industry?
Apply for junior accounts roles in the type of company you want to work for. Starting as an accounts administrator, if you do a stellar job, you may well get noticed. This could lead to landing that study support role albeit a bit later than you’d originally hoped for.
In the meantime, good luck with your exams one and all. We are currently recruiting for trainee accountants in Belfast so check out our current vacancies or get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.