Accounting technicians do much of the detailed work within accounting. They prepare the financial information which professional accountants or business managers use when giving financial advice or making decisions.
You could be:
- dealing with invoices from suppliers and paying them
- monitoring expenses
- keeping and checking financial records
- managing the system that pays company wages and salaries
- calculating sales, profits and the value of stock
- preparing financial statements or company tax returns
- collecting, organising and checking financial information for professional accountants and business managers
- assisting with budget planning and control.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of the company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Salaries for trainee accounting technicians are around £16,000 to £22,000 a year. As a qualified accounting technician, your salary is likely to be between £18,000 and £25,000 per year. Senior technicians can earn up to £30,000 or more.
- You would be based in an office and work normal hours. You may have to spend some time out of the office visiting clients.
- In a small organisation, you would have a variety of duties. In a larger organisation, you might specialise in one area of work.
- You would do much of your work at a computer, using financial software packages or spreadsheet applications.
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- You could start as an accounts clerk or trainee accounting technician and study part time for recognised professional qualifications. There are no set entry requirements, but most employers prefer a good group of subjects at National 4 or 5, including English and Maths. You may need one or more Highers.
- You could enter through a Modern Apprenticeship. There are different levels available and entry requirements may vary between employers. Details are specified when opportunities are available.
- You could take a college course before starting work. There are courses in accounting at various levels: National Certificate (NC), National Qualification (NQ), Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND).
- For NCs and NQs in Accounting or Accounts you usually require at least 3 subjects at National 4 or 5; some colleges may accept only National 5 qualifications or require one Higher. For an HNC or HND course you need 1-2 Highers and some subjects at National 5. English and Maths are preferred.
- If you have an HNC or HND you may get exemption from some of the accountancy technician examinations.
As an accounting technician, you could work in a wide range of organisations, including manufacturing companies, local and central government, the health service, banks, insurance companies and private accountancy firms.
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- good numeracy skills
- good computer skills
- an interest in finance and business
- a methodical approach.
You need to be able to:
- pay attention to detail
- understand and handle complex information
- communicate clearly both in speech and writing
- work well under pressure and meet deadlines
- be discreet when handling confidential information.
- If you take a Modern Apprenticeship at Level 2, 3 or 4, you would work with an employer and study for accounting technician examinations. These would be through either the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
- The AAT qualification is sponsored by the professional accountancy bodies of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
- If not on a Modern Apprenticeship, you would still work with an employer and study for either the AAT qualification or the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Scheme, which is run by ACCA.
- Full details of entry requirements, examinations and exemptions 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 must be prepared to study in your own time.
- The length of training varies depending on your initial entry qualifications.
- As each of the accountancy technician qualifications is linked to one or more professional accountancy bodies, there are clear, well-established training routes so that you can progress from technician to professional level accountancy.
- You could move between employers to widen your experience and gain promotion.
- Many accounting technicians achieve senior positions in their firm.
- You may choose to use your technician qualification to train as a professional accountant.
- There may be opportunities to work abroad.
Job prospects are generally very good. Financial support staff work in a wide variety of roles and with many different types of employer.
There are good opportunities for part time and freelance work, or to become self-employed.
RSM, a leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services, offer an AAT Trainee Scheme for school or college leavers. Applicants need at least 5 subjects at National 5, including English and Maths, plus at least 112 UCAS tariff points from their four best Highers or Advanced Highers. The two-year scheme is normally studied via block-release. Places are available in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Lerwick. Visit the RSM Careers website for more information.
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 Association of Accounting Technicians has a recruitment website called AAT Jobs, as does the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) at ACCA Careers
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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