Accountant - Public Sector

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Accountants in the public sector work for not for profit organisations such as the National Health Service (NHS), the Civil Service, local authorities and charities. They may also work for private accountancy firms that provide services to public sector organisations.

They are responsible for the use and administration of public money and aim to ensure that the organisation achieves value for money.

The Work

You could be:


The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:

Starting salaries for trainee accountants tend to be between £19,000 and £26,000 a year. Salaries for graduate trainee accountants tend to be between £23,000 and £28,000 a year.

Qualified accountants earn between £26,000 and £45,000 a year. Senior managers earn between £40,000 and £80,000 a year. Financial directors can earn up to £100,000 a year.


Workforce Employment Status

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Getting In

Opportunities come up with a wide range of public sector organisations. These include the Civil Service, government agencies, local authorities and the NHS. You can also apply to bodies that monitor public spending, such as Audit Scotland and the UK National Audit Office.

There are also jobs in educational, housing, government funded and charitable organisations. You can find details of training schemes on the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) website. You will also see posts advertised in the press, on employers' websites and on the CIPFA website.

What Does it Take?

You need to have:

You need to be able to:


Getting On

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 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.

Local government vacancies in Scotland are advertised on the MyjobScotland website.

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.


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The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
Tel: 020 3735 2468
Twitter: @YourAAT

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
Tel: 0141 582 2000
Website (2):
Twitter: @ACCANews

Association of International Accountants (AIA)
Tel: 0191 493 0277
Twitter: @AIA1928

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
Tel: 020 8849 2251
Twitter: @CIMA_News

Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) Scotland
Tel: 0131 221 8640
Website (2):
Twitter: @CIPFA

CIPFA has an online recruitment service that enables job seekers to complete a single online application form or to upload a CV that can be considered by employers throughout the UK.

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
Tel: 0131 347 0100

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