It is undoubtedly true that money makes the world go ‘round. The question is: who accounts for all of that money?
Accounting firms, that’s who!
And you could too: by taking accounting classes, either as an undergraduate earning an accounting degree or through any of the accounting programs offered by accounting associations.
What is an accounting association?
Accounting associations, such as the Association for Accounting Technicians and the Association of International Accountants, all offer guidance and regulation updates to their members.
They all also offer accounting classes in financial accounting, managerial accounting, tax accounting and auditing to anyone who seeks the knowledge and skills that will lead to a satisfying career in accounting.
Are looking for another way to earn your living?
Are you hoping to gain new skills to make you more competitive on the job market?
Maybe you are an entry-level manager with an eye on your boss’ job.
Or perhaps you have long dreamed of entrepreneurship: going into business for yourself, but you need to know all about budgeting, bookkeeping and cost accounting.
In all of these situations and more, learning the principles of accounting from an accredited course can only benefit you.
Let’s go find out where, throughout the UK, you can learn accounting concepts.
Accounting, obviously, is a bit of a big industry. There are the big four auditors, all the professional bodies, and the tiny little accountancy firms you see popping up all over the shop.
It’s a big industry simply because every business and their dog needs an accountant! Big firms are inevitably going to need to have an audit at some point (done by external accountants) – and they will have their own in-house managerial accountants too. So, thinking of how many businesses there are in this country, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of accountants too.
But these guys have an awful lot of power – as it’s them that deals with all the cash! Tax payments, collection of money, paying employees, and keep track of all the comings and goings of the funds. These guys need to be on their A-game all the time, because businesses need accurate financial statements – otherwise they get in trouble with the government (or not, as things may be).
External accountants – or auditors – make sure that the internal accounting department is doing what it needs to be doing. They give advice on how to streamline or restructure accounting and financial processes in organisations, and they take a look at the financial statements created by the accountants to make sure everything is up to scratch. This is important, because lenders and financial services providers need to know whether a company’s finances are sound before they have anything to do with them.
So, a lot of responsibility. And with the responsibility comes the requirement for dudes like you to prove that you can take that responsibility. That’s why accounting qualifications make up such a big industry too. One, because applicants know that it’s a good route to a respectful job and nice pay packet. Two, because all businesses are after accountants. And three, because accounting courses can cost a small fortune.
If you like numbers and things though, it is worth it in the end.
But, the accounting qualification industry has led to a huge proliferation of different courses, accrediting bodies, and qualifications, each with their dreadfully confusing little acronym: CA, ACA, ACCA, CIMA, AAT, and so on. These are things you’ll put after your name once you have sat the course (it’s the little things that matter, eh!).
But whilst they all look interchangeable, they aren’t really, not necessarily. The content pretty much is shared, with various different specialisations, but the course structures differ – depending on the dictates of the accounting body that accredit them.
Let’s take them in order, for the lols.
The first is CA, which stands simply for Chartered Accountant. You can only use these letters if you are member of the ICAS (another acronym!), which is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland. This is the oldest chartered accountant institute in the world – as it happens.
However, the course they offer is the same as the ICAEW (sorry), the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. This is the ACA course, and it’s methods are, these days, quite peculiar. You have, from the start of the course, five years to complete it – and the fifteen exams it involves. However, you have to gain 450 days of experience with an accredited employer, to whom you are tied for the duration of that time.
The good news is that the ACA is one of the most in-demand type of accountant – so you’ll probably end up with a tidy job at the end of all this.
To make matters lovely and simple (thanks, accountants), the other main accounting qualification is called the ACCA: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. To be certified is not necessarily better, it’s literally just an extra adjective.
These guys ask that you do three years of relevant experience throughout the course, but they don’t have that rule about the employer.
Regardless, this is a well-reputed qualification that will get you walking with swagger after graduation – or at least as much swagger as an accountant can muster.
The CIMA follows a similar structure as the ACCA, but as its name – the Chartered Institute for Management Accountants – suggests, this is to train management accountants, those guys working within companies.
Again three years experience with exams.
Which leaves us with the AAT courses, those from the Association of Accounting Technicians. ‘Technicians’ presumably to make accounting sound a little sexier – who knows.
These provide the more foundational accounting courses – i.e. the ones that you will study before you take a course accredited by one of the above. They do diplomas and certificates, and are usually offered by vocational colleges.
It’s a really important first step in accounting, as you’ll learn all the basics before you gain the professional experience.
A master of accounting generally works in a business environment to ‘translate’ finance and accounting information for company executives Source: Pixabay Credit: Mohamad_Hassan
Our capital city being a global financial centre, naturally, you could find all manner of accounting courses there.
The professional studies programs offered by BMC Training are mostly only one week long – and they have a very long list of classes!
For example, you might participate in their Accounting Policies and Procedures course or their Fundamentals of Accounting seminar.
In the fundamental course, you will be taught basic accounting: the accounting system, the steps of the accounting cycle, how to prepare financial statements and what a trial balance is.
You would then wrap up your training with hands-on workshops: how to create and interpret a spreadsheet, performing account analysis and a bank reconciliation.
Granted, you will not earn a degree in accounting through this seminar, but you will learn quite a bit about accounting principles; perhaps enough to spur you into further studies.
The question would be: studies of what? And you would be quite right in asking, too!
The general label of accountant does the profession a discredit.
Most people have this idea that accountants are dull people with little social acumen and a penchant for numbers but, where the profession of accounting is concerned, dull is the least of the descriptors!
In fact, accountants excel at detecting patterns. They are analytical and careful planners, for all that they are risk takers.
It does seem odd to juxtapose allegedly stodgy number crunchers with, say, someone who routinely jumps out of planes. Still, you might find that risk takers are more meticulous and analytical than commonly thought of.
So, if you have an eye for detail and are looking for a rock-solid career, you could find even more accounting courses in London.
Edinburgh is the home to the ICAS, and is a place full of banks, fintech start-ups, and plenty of auditors, accounting firms, and other people relevant to the discipline. If you live in the city, you’ll find plenty of opportunities that rightly suit your needs – as it’s a vibrant business hub with all sorts of educational institutions.
Firstly, there is the hugely prestigious University of Edinburgh. Rather than an accounting undergraduate degree – which some universities offer – they offer an accounting Master’s straight off the bat. This means that you’ll leave school and go straight into a four-year MA course and come out pretty much qualified. The course is accredited by CIMA, ICAS, ICAEW, and ACCA, so you won’t be wasting any time.
Then there is the course at the Edinburgh Business School, which makes up part of Heriot-Watt University. They offer an MBA and an MA in Financial Management. Both are made up in large part by accounting modules – and these too are accredited by the same bodies. So, these courses contribute to the larger accounting qualifications but will not in themselves qualify you.
Finally, Edinburgh College offers a load of AAT courses – levels three and four – which will prepare you to begin one of the other courses. They also offer HNCs and HNDs in accounting and finance for those who need some extra qualifications before they can enroll in a university.
Cardiff too is a great place to learn accounting. You’ll have plenty of business schools and universities offering accredited courses, as well as private training centres. Remember, there is also Superprof, whose tutors can help you with anything you fancy – including passing those many accounting exams.
Like any big university, the University of Cardiff’s Business School offers undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in accounting that are accredited by CIMA, ACCA, and ICAEW. If you’ve just left school determined to be an accountant, this is an appropriate course to take – because you don’t need to decide which larger qualification to go for right now. There’s a nice opportunity for a placement year too.
AAT courses are available at your Cardiff and Vale College, one of the biggest colleges in the whole of the UK. Alongside thirty thousand other students, you can study at lots of different campuses across the city. The Department for Business, Finance, Administration, and Accounting is where you will want to be, as they offer AAT courses full time or part time starting every September.
In Belfast, the accounting courses fit into similar categories – with universities, private training centres, and colleges providing the main routes through which to pursue your qualification. The interesting thing about Northern Ireland’s accounting scene is that it is covered by Chartered Accountants Ireland, the ICAEW, and the ICAS – as well as the globally functional CIMA and ACCA. So you have an extra decision to make.
The accounting degree at Queen’s University is a good place to start, as it is a course accredited by all of the above. Meanwhile, Ulster University offers a graduate diploma in accounting. This too has all the accreditations that you’d imagine. However, where the degree at QUB just requires A Levels as entry requirements, you’ll need a full degree to get onto the accounting course here (it is a graduate diploma after all).
Finally, if you don’t want the student life and just want to dedicate yourself to the qualification, the Richard Clarke Academy is a specialist CIMA training centre in Belfast. Although slightly pricey (and you’ll find all such centres similarly so), they’ll take you through lectures, exam preparation, classroom work, and individual tuition. It’s a great opportunity for those looking to really get serious about their qualification.
Did you know that Greater Manchester is home to more multimillionaires than anywhere else in the UK, save London?
How those Mancunians got so rich, while an interesting topic, has nothing to do with our thesis. “Who manages their money?”, however, would be right on point!
If you had certification as a public accountant, you may find yourself being assigned to manage the assets of some wealthy Manchester dweller.
Or you could manage the books for any of Manchester’s businesses; with economic growth in that area exceeding the national rate by several percentage points, surely there must be sharp financial management at work!
You might train in business accounting with the Pittman Training Group; they have developed an entire curriculum of accountancy.
They hold classes all over the UK including Manchester, instructing on such topics as accounting information systems and the generally accepted accounting principles.
You could even take advanced accounting classes with them!
Indeed, there is plenty of accounting education in and around Manchester; a vast trove of information that is far too extensive to list in one article.
If only we knew what type of accountant you aspired to become…
Upon completion of your public accountant coursework, you too would be qualified to analyze such financial reports Source: Pixabay Credit Mohamad_Hassan
It is true that no two accountants are the same, even though their job description bears the generic title of ‘accountant’.
Just like any career field, there are specialities:
A forensic accountant reviews financial records for the possibility of litigation
An auditor checks a company’s books for accuracy (a certified internal auditor might work for a company exclusively)
A tax accountant is conversant of the latest tax laws; they help individuals and companies prepare for tax time.
A managerial accountant works in a business’ accounting department to help executives plan and optimise their company’s profit margins.
A financial accountant manages the general ledger and trial balance; they also prepare financial reports for external publishing – to shareholders and tax authorities, for example.
A CPA or certified public accountant may fill any of those roles or may engage in business by him/herself, managing assets for individuals or small businesses.
A chartered public accountant is one who works in an office with other accountants; nevertheless, they too can function in any of these specialities.
Which role would you like to fill in the world of accounting and business?
Unless you’ve gained admission to an undergraduate degree program at the University of Birmingham – where you might have mentorship in deciding a speciality, you may have to look elsewhere for such guidance.
A great place to start would be AAT – the Association for Accounting Technicians, who offer an array of courses meant to prepare future accountants for the business world.
Whether you see yourself as an accounting clerk or leading a team of management accounting professionals, AAT will help prepare you for your new career.
As with elsewhere in the UK, there are plenty of learning opportunities for accounting in Birmingham; you may even choose an online accounting class!
With the due acknowledgement that not everyone has the means or opportunity to take the traditional route in earning degrees in accounting, this city offers an impressive range of courses in accounting and finance.
Unlike the degree programs offered through the University of Leeds, many of these courses, taught by training companies like Consensa and Courtney, will yield a certificate in accounting that reflects the speciality you are training in.
You may opt to pursue intermediate accounting or target your accounting skills to financial statement analysis in order to work with a corporation.
Many such classes on offer in and around Leeds last only a day or two – not enough to proclaim yourself as a certified management accountant.
Still, any proficiency you gain in general accounting will take you one step closer to your goal of learning accounting in Leeds.
(Mostly) gone are the days of ten-key adding machines; these days, accountants rely on a computer-generated financial report Source: Pixabay Credit: Aitoff
We finally arrive at the city where accountancy gained royal endorsement: The Glasgow Institute of Accountants and Actuaries was founded in 1854; one of the three that was first in the world to gain a royal charter.
You may earn your bachelor through the University of Glasgow accounting program, or you might decide that the business courses or accounting courses at the City of Glasgow College would suit you better.
What if you are studying for your Highers in accounting and need just a bit of tutelage?
You may find courses that address specific facets of accounting, such as financial reporting or accounting practices through Acudemy Ltd.
Each accounting course on offer is suitable for displaced workers – those who lost their job through layoffs or budget cuts, as well as school leavers and anyone desiring to know more about the duties of a professional accountant.
There are no prerequisites for these courses, and the only requirement is that you be ready and willing to learn about accounting systems, accounting theory and corporate accounting.
If your current job is unsatisfying and you are looking for something new and exciting, short of enroling at university and earning any accounting degrees, an accounting certificate from such a training centre will certainly boost your chances at getting hired elsewhere.
If you are currently on track to major in accounting at any of our country’s universities, preparing for your accounting career is well underway: good show!
If you want to become an accountant, that’s not hard to do! All you need is to meet the educational requirements – obtainable through any of the accounting schools mentioned above, and possibly sit the CPA exam.
And then, all the choices of accounting careers will be open to you!
You may choose forensic accounting – a downright sexy sounding speciality, or you could go into international accounting; you could even step into an accounting management position for a global firm.
Keep in mind that your Superprof is always there for you.
If you need tuition online or face to face to better understand public accounting or as an accounting major, Superprof is ready to help you meet your education requirements with qualified tutors.