If you are looking for career opportunities in a business environment, it might be that you want to try to become a qualified, chartered accountant. In Cardiff, there are plenty of opportunities to achieve this end, from an undergraduate degree in accountancy or a postgraduate, a diploma accredited by one of the public accountant bodies, or – the classic route for those looking to be chartered accountants – the dedicated accounting pathway.
Whatever you feel is the best option for you – and there isn’t really a ‘best’ option in the eyes of the top accounting firms – you’re going to be studying all those things that you would expect to study: financial management and business law; information systems and bookkeeping; financial data, financial records, and financial planning; business decisions, financial transactions, the cash flow statement, and the theory and practice of accounting standards.
In accounting, the content of the courses doesn’t change so much. However, it’s the accreditation and the currency, let’s say, of the professional qualifications that matter. And these really matter quite a lot. Meaning you ain’t going to have a successful career in the field if you are not recognised by one of the professional bodies. It’s as simple as that.
Before we explore the different options and institutions available to you in Cardiff, then, it’s worth taking a look at what these different professional accountant organisations are.
There’s a lot to learn in an accounting course!
Accountants deal with money, in all its various forms: financial information, financial reports, corporate finance; tax preparation, business taxation, and contemporary issues in business management. If you’re into this sort of thing, then good: this is probably the best of the career paths for you.
But the question here is why train to become an accountant. It’s an important question with a super simple answer. If you are dealing or even looking into other people’s dosh, they are going to want to know that you have the nous to do so. And so, businesses leave it up to the public accounting bodies to certify the accountants and auditors. This means that before you can have a career in accountancy, you have to impress these bodies.
That’s the reason you have to train. Take it or leave it.
But once you are there, with your badge of honour and the letters after your name, you’ve got career options aplenty. Professional accountancy spans from the role of a financial analyst to external and internal auditors; it ranges from the tax accountant to the managerial accountant. You can sit on some board of accountancy, be in corporate governance or even teach at a school of business. There’s the Big Four too.
And, if you change your mind about the whole thing, you have a heap of transferable skills – analytical skills, technical skills, and professional skills – to get you almost any job you want.
So, all the trouble of qualifying is worth it in the long run. And, on average, accountants get a small mountain of cash. There’s that too to sweeten the deal.
But, if you have spent any time looking around the internet or elsewhere for accounting and finance courses, you’re going to have noticed a whole load of acronyms, names, and levels that come with each and every different qualification. It’s time to look into what some of these are, and which one might be best for what you want to do.
You may find that some accounting courses, by the way – particularly the accounting degree – are accredited by all of these at the same time.
Learn all about the science of accounting.
In Wales, the big one is the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (the ICAEW), which is the UK provider of the ACA qualification. This is the body of professional accountants that are probably most in demand across the world. Their course requires 450 credit hours of experience in an accredited employer – and you can complete the whole course, with the fifteen exams, in five years.
What makes these guys different to the others is that you have to be with this accredited employer. With the others, you don’t.
The others, indeed, are the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (or CIMA) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). These are global organisations with a huge number of members. Each course requires three years of relevant experience – although you’re not tied to a particular employer.
The difference here is really the difference between a management accountant and other types of public accountants. The former, simply, is for a career as an accountant within a business. You’ll be looking at all the financial systems on the inside of the business – for the business’s sake. Other types of accountants – in auditing, say – are usually external to the businesses with which they work.
It’s an important distinction, because it will determine the particular trajectory of your career in accounting. That designation, ‘bookkeeper’, is not monolithic: there are all sorts of different accounting careers to choose from.
Another acronym you might see around is AAT, which stands for the Association of Accounting Technicians. Accounting technician might sound like it’s a little different, but really it ain’t: you’ll be studying the same stuff – the financial statement and financial analysis, profit and loss, strategic management and public accountancy – that you will find in any other course.
The difference with this one is that it’s the foundational qualification for accountancy. This means that, after the many different levels and diplomas associated with this accreditation, you’ll still have to go on to do a degree in accounting at a business school – at undergraduate level or graduate level – or train to do one of the above qualifications.
There are other bodies that offer accountancy courses, all over the world. As we’re in Cardiff, however, it’s worth just paying attention to the main ones there. We don’t have space for the others – so, apologies!
Of course, a big city like Cardiff is going to have a raft of opportunities for you to learn accounting. From an undergraduate degree program to a master of science, from diplomas to private schools of business, which course you want to take, you’ll find it in Wales’s capital.
Here are some of the best courses across the city for you to take a look at.
The Cardiff and Vale College offers all sorts of vocational training, to kids who didn’t fancy staying for A Levels to adults returning to education after a break. All of the courses are dead professional – and you’ll be in a learning community of thirty thousand students (!).
The accounting programme here doubles – or quadruples – up under a larger course: Business, Finance, Administration, and Accounting. This covers all your bases.
Part of these are your AAT courses, which you can take part-time or full-time in campuses across the city. Get started each September.
At Cardiff University’s Business School, you can take all sorts of undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in accounting.
These courses are accredited by CIMA, by ACCA, and by ICAEW – so if you are struggling to decide which one to plonk for, it might be wise to take this course and cover all of your bases.
The BSc is a full-time three-year course starting every September. You can opt to do a placement year too. Nicely enough, the course is often taught by professional accountants working at such prestigious firms as PwC and KPMG – for a bit of real-life advice.
This’ll need to be accounted for…
Kaplan run courses out of the Clayton Hotel in the city centre – which makes for quite a convenient place to hone your accounting knowledge.
They offer ACA courses exclusively – but cover certificate, professional, and advanced levels. You’ll be well-supported with lectures, classroom support, and exam preparation in a really professional environment.
If you want to be sure that you’ll becoming chartered, this is your best bet.
If you are looking for a supplementary helping hand to get you through the accreditation process, find yourself a nice, qualified accounting tutor at Superprof.
Superprof is a platform that connects students to tutors teaching all sorts of different subjects. In Cardiff and around, we have five qualified accounting tutors that can sit with you and work through your preparation for your exams.
With professional experience themselves, they know what they are doing. Get in touch today!