Five reasons to consider a career in accounting and finance

From the post-pandemic ‘Great Resignation’ to the current cost of living crisis, events are causing lots of people to take another look at their career path. One in four people aged 16 to 34 were considering changing jobs last year. In uncertain times, you want a career that is stable, has plenty of options and has good pay.

So, could a career in accountancy be the solution? We’ve gathered some views from careers expects and people in the field to examine the advantages.

Great job security

If you’re worried about where the economy is going, recruitment specialists suggest that a switch to accountancy could be a great move. “Finance is recession-proof,” says Karen Chilton at financial recruitment specialist Marks Sattin. “Accountancy isn’t a luxury for business: it’s important.”

Research by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) suggests it is the third most stable profession, after healthcare and teaching. Although automation is seen as a potential threat to some accountancy jobs in future, Chilton suggests that there will continue to be plenty of roles for strategic financial thinkers and good communicators.

Plenty of career options

A career in accountancy and finance doesn’t mean just sitting in front of spreadsheets all day. “Accounting is so much more than calculations,” says Katryn Smith at Deloitte. “I spend as much time talking to management about their organisation and our observations, researching complex accounting and business issues, and consulting with specialists, as I do ‘crunching numbers’.”

Smith adds that there are “as many career paths as there are accountants”. You could work for an accountancy practice or set up your own firm, work in-house for big corporations, public sector organisations or charities, become a consultant or work as an auditor.

Entrance requirements are easier than you think

For such a high-status profession, the barriers to entry in accountancy are relatively low. For instance, you don’t need a degree to get on the career ladder. You can take AAT qualifications starting at level 2 – equivalent to GCSE – for entry level roles and build up to degree-level qualifications as your career progresses.

For some accountancy roles, such as auditing, you’ll need to be a chartered accountant – which usually means getting the ACCA or ACA qualification. In either case, you can start with two A-levels and three GCSEs – but you’ll need to build up around three years of experience on the job too, so most people study for the qualifications with an employer.

Good rates of pay

It’s no surprise that the numbers experts keep an eye on their own bottom line. With an entry level AAT qualification, the average salary is £21,000, but it rises to £30,000 or £40,000 with further qualifications and experience.

On graduate programmes, you can expect to start at about £40,000, with salaries rising to £65,000 during training. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales says the average annual salary for a qualified chartered accountant is £84,500 – with an average bonus of £17,300.

Your qualification can take you around the world

Languages may change, but numbers and finance remain pretty much the same wherever you are. UK chartered accountancy qualifications are recognised throughout the EU and in several other countries – such as Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong – so your career could take you in all kinds of directions.

Many big firms also work with international clients, meaning foreign travel can be part of your work. As Katryn Smith says: “While you may not hop on a plane every week, there are opportunities to travel both for work and for our professional development programmes.”