The qualifications for entry depend on the training route you choose.
Most entrants have a degree (SCQF Level 9-10) and then join a graduate training programme. Any subject is acceptable, but accountancy, business studies, economics, finance, law and mathematics may give you exemption from parts of the professional examinations.
You usually need 4-5 Highers for entry to a degree course, depending on where, and which subject, you want to study.
Studying for the Foundation Apprenticeship Accountancy (SCQF Level 6) while in fifth and sixth year at school could be used in place of a Higher for entry onto a degree (check with the institution first). Entry requirements vary between colleges, but you usually require some subjects at National 5 including English and Maths.
Alternatively, you may be able to enter accountancy training with an employer if you have 4-5 Highers plus National 5 English and Maths. Some accountancy companies, including Deloitte and KPMG, now run entry schemes or programmes for school leavers who achieve good grades in a group of Highers. See More Information for information on these programmes and links to the companies' websites.
Another alternative is to start as a trainee accounting technician. There are no set entry requirements but most employers prefer at least 3 or 4 subjects at National 5 including English and Maths. Some employers prefer candidates with 2 or more Highers. Modern Apprenticeships in accounting may be available in your area. Once qualified as an accounting technician you can go on to full accountancy training.
If you enter accounting technician training with an HND (SCQF Level 8) you will probably get exemptions from certain exams.
For entry to an HND course you need 1-2 Highers plus some subjects at National 5.
Training places with accountancy firms are usually advertised in the press and on the websites of professional bodies. You apply directly to the firms of your choice.
What Does it Take?
You need to have:
excellent analytical and numeracy skills
excellent IT skills
a logical and questioning mind
a good eye for detail
excellent written and verbal communication skills
integrity and discretion when handling confidential information
good organisational skills
good problem solving skills
a good grasp of how businesses work.
You need to be able to:
build good working relationships
understand and handle complex information
explain complex financial information to others
create clear and concise financial reports
work well under pressure and meet deadlines.
You would work as a trainee, usually for about 3 years, while studying for the examinations of one of the professional accountancy bodies listed below. The regulations of these bodies vary. Details of entry requirements, examinations, exemptions and areas of specialisation are on the websites.
You can study for the examinations by day or block release or evening classes, by distance or open learning or by a combination of these. You will have to study in your own time.
The length of training varies depending on your initial entry qualifications.
If you want to work as a registered company auditor, you must by law hold an audit qualification from a Recognised Qualifying Body (RQB). These bodies include: the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Association of International Accountants (AIA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
You can move from one company to another to widen your experience and gain promotion.
You could become a specialist in a particular area of work, such as auditing, corporate finance or taxation.
With appropriate experience, you may become a senior accountant or partner in an accountancy firm.
You could set up your own accountancy practice.
In large companies there may be opportunities to work abroad.
Some people enter accountancy as a second career. Individual accountancy professional bodies may have special training schemes for these applicants. You should check this with the association or institute concerned.
The big 4 accountancy firms, Deloitte, Ernst and Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, offer a range of recruitment schemes for school leavers, students at university and graduates. See their websites for details about eligibility and applications.
In addition there are also lots of smaller accountancy firms that may have opportunities. You can check recruitment websites and the job sections of many of the accountancy institutions listed below under the Contacts section.