A Career as an Accounts Assistant or Accounting Technician (AAT)-Justaccountancyjobs.com

Published: 11th March 2010
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As an accounting technician, it would be your job to keep accurate financial accounts for all types of business, and to assist qualified accountants.

In larger companies, you would usually work as part of an accounts team. In a small business, you may be the only person trained to deal with finance matters like wages and invoices. In either case, your typical duties would include:

* processing and paying invoices

* recording receipts and payments

* preparing and checking ledger balances and other monthly and yearly accounts

* completing and submitting tax returns

* monitoring company expenses

* using computerised accounting systems.

With experience, you might take on management responsibilities and more complex tasks, such as:

* drafting financial reports

* planning and budget control

* assisting qualified accountants with audits.

To be an accounts technician you should have:

* confidence working with numbers

* good spoken and written communication skills

* an interest in business and finance

* good organisational skills

* the ability to solve problems and analyse figures

* a high level of accuracy and attention to detail

* the ability to work to strict deadlines

* honesty and discretion.

You will find it helpful to have previous experience of office work. Temporary work ('temping') can be a good way of getting experience that may lead to a permanent job. Computer experience is also useful, particularly in using spreadsheet and database packages like Microsoft Excel and Access.

Above all, you should feel confident with maths and using computers. Employers may prefer you to have at least four GCSEs (A-C) including maths (or a similar level of qualification), although entry requirements may vary.

You would often start as an accounts clerk doing basic accounting duties in a company. You could then take work-based training or a part-time college course to qualify as a technician with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) scheme.

You may be able to miss out some parts of AAT or CAT training if you already have one of the following:

* AS or A Level in Accounting

* previous relevant work experience in accounting

* an entry-level bookkeeping qualification (see the Accounts Clerk profile).

You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

Your training is normally a mixture of learning on the job and studying for qualifications from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) or the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).

You can take the AAT Accounting qualification in one of two ways - the NVQ route or the Diploma route.

If you are employed in an accounting role, you can take work-based training and assessments to achieve NVQs in Accounting. This route has three stages:

* NVQ Level 2 (Foundation)

* Level 3 (Intermediate)

* Level 4 (Technician).

If you do not yet work in accounting or if you prefer to take an exam-based route, you can choose the Diploma pathway to the AAT Accounting Qualification. The Diploma also has three stages:

* Certificate (Foundation)

* Advanced Certificate (Intermediate)

* Diploma (Technician).

You will be assessed for the Diploma by exams and simulated skills tests, instead of providing practical evidence from the workplace.

You can study for the AAT Accounting Qualification full- or part-time at colleges or training centres, or in the workplace.

For full membership of the AAT, you must pass all three stages of the qualification, and have at least a year's approved work experience. You can find more details on the AAT's website.

Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA)

To become qualified with the ACCA Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Scheme, you must pass exams at the three levels (Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced) and keep a training record of at least one year's practical accounting experience.

You can study for CAT full- or part-time at further education colleges and private training centres, or alternatively through home study. See the ACCA's website for full details.

Once you are fully AAT or CAT qualified, you could study further to become an accountant. Your accounting technician qualifications mean that you can usually bypass the first stage of professional exams. For example, you could start at Part 2 of the ACCA's Chartered Certified Accountant Scheme, instead of Part 1. See the Private Practice Accountant profile for more information.

* Starting salaries at foundation and intermediate levels can be around £14,000 to £18,000 a year.

* Once qualified to technician level, salaries can be up to £25,000.

What opportunities are there?

You could work for companies in every business sector, or in the public sector for organisations such as local councils, colleges/universities and the NHS.

Jobs may be advertised in the local press, Jobcentre Plus, and by recruitment agencies.

With experience, you could move into management or become self-employed and work on accounts for a number of small business clients. You could also choose to study further and become a qualified accountant.

AAT and ACCA qualifications are recognised across the world, so work abroad is an option.

Where can I go for more information?

Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)

140 Aldersgate Street



Tel: 0845 863 0800


Financial Services Skills Council

51 Gresham Street



Tel: 0845 257 3772


Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

29 Lincoln's Inn Fields



Tel: 020 7059 5000


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