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Guide to the Best Accounting Apprenticeships 2021

By Kirthana Devaser

If you have strong analytical skills and have a liking for numbers, you may just want to consider a profession in accountancy. You do not necessarily need to take the traditional route of attending university in order to begin your qualification journey. There are other ways to become a chartered accountant.

This guide is to help you explore the accounting apprenticeships and understand your options.

What is Accountancy?

Accountancy is the course of managing the income and expenses of a corporation. It includes the practice of recording, classifying and reporting all business transactions carried out for the organisation. Feedback is provided to management with regards to the financial status and results of the following corporation.

Can You Become an Accountant Through an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship combines both work and study, allowing one to fast-track to chartered accountant status. Depending on your level of apprenticeship and job role, you may be exposed to different areas of accounting, from payroll and tax management to bill and expenditure handling.

Level and Types of Accounting Apprenticeships 2021

There are three stages when it comes to the accounting apprenticeship. Each level allows you to develop skills and master distinct financial jobs.


Level 2

This is equivalent to today’s GCSE. This covers the roles of accounts or finance clerk, sales ledger clerk and cashier.


Level 3

This is equivalent to the conventional A-level. This level includes the roles of trainee accounting technician roles or assistant accountant.

Higher/ Degree

Levels 4-5/ Levels 6-7

According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), those who complete a higher or degree apprenticeship would increase their lifetime earnings by approximately £150,000 without incurring any student debt.

Levels 4 and 5 are equivalent to a Higher Education Certificate, Diploma or foundation degree. Level 6 is the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree whilst level 7 is the equivalent of a Master’s degree. Most of the time, higher apprentices study part-time at their respective training provider or school. It usually takes between a year and five years to complete this.

Accounting Apprenticeships Available in 2021

ACCA Apprenticeships

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) provides apprenticeships to school leavers and graduates alike. If you are above the age of 16 and reside in Britain, you are eligible for this course.

It takes a minimum of 12 months to complete the ACCA Accounting Technician (Level 4) apprenticeship. The board also provides the ACCA Professional Accountant (Level 7) apprenticeship, which is said to take approximately three years to complete on average.

If you are considering the first option, you should expect a starting salary of £15,000. You will be exposed to a wide range of industries and be given the opportunity to progress accordingly. Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you could be earning approximately £25,000. Furthermore, you will be able to apply to study for a BSc in Applied Accounting, an MSc in Professional Accountancy and obtain the professional ACCA qualification, whilst becoming an ACCA member. The professional ACCA qualification is recognised globally.

If you take the professional accountant route and qualify, you will be as qualified as someone who takes the route mentioned above. Those with the professional ACCA qualification (or equivalent) can expect to earn about £50,000 as a newly qualified chartered accountant.

ICAEW Apprenticeships

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) provides a pathway to a qualification as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

ICAEW Accounting Technician (Level 4) apprenticeship allows you to obtain the Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB). This is a standalone qualification, however, it incorporates the first 6 modules of the professional ACA (Level 7). To complete this qualification, it takes an average of 18-24 months and is equivalent to the first year of a Bachelor’s.

If you are on a pathway in accounting and are looking to complete the ICAEW Accountancy Professional (ACA) apprenticeship, this will take an average of 36 to 48 months to complete. By the end of the qualification, you will be a fully qualified chartered accountant. This is equivalent to a Master’s.

Both levels of apprenticeships allow you to allocate time away from the office in order to study and sit for your exams. To qualify, this will be determined by your employer, and you will need a grade 4 or above at GCSE mathematics and English.

AAT Apprenticeships

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) provides the Assistant Accountant (Level 3) Apprenticeship and Professional Accounting Technical (Level 4) Apprenticeship. Besides that, they also provide Advanced (Level 3) and Professional (Level 4) Diplomas. To qualify, you will need to be 16 and above and not in a full-time education program. Besides that, you will need to be residing in the U.K. and be living in the country (England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) in which you are applying for the program.

The AAT Advanced Diploma takes an average of 12 months to complete whilst the Professional Diploma takes approximately 9-18 months to complete.

As an apprentice, you will work a minimum of 30 hours a week and you are entitled to the National Minimum Wage or more. Currently, the average weekly wage is £170. Besides that, you will be entitled to a holiday allowance as well.

AAT will provide the necessary study material and support to help you begin your accountancy career. You will begin your journey from AAT Level 3 which will take about a year followed by AAT Level 4 which will take you another 2 years.

Following this,  you can then choose to further progress and continue with a professional qualification such as ACCA or ACA.

The Level 7 Accountancy/Taxation Professional by BDO UK is a four-year program that allows you to join BDO’s tax, advisory, audit and insurance, or business services and outsourcing department and study towards becoming a chartered accountant. You will be able to gain your professional qualification through one of the following routes: ACA, ACA/CTA Joint Programme, CTA or ATT/CTA Tax Pathway.

CIMA Accounting Apprenticeships

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) provides the Professional Accounting Technician (Level 4) apprenticeship and the Accountancy/Taxation Professional (Level 7) apprenticeship for school leavers as well as those looking to upskill.

To qualify, you will need to study the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting (CIMA Cert BA).

As someone in their final year of university, you can consider the CIMA Professional Qualification. Similar to the professional ACCA qualification, the CIMA professional qualification is globally recognised.

Accounting Internships

If you are looking to see if accountancy is an area of study you want to dive into, this may be the right option for you as this is an informal way of gaining experience in the industry. An internship typically lasts between a week to 12 months.

Following your time at your internship, you could choose to undertake an apprenticeship! Alternatively, you could look at getting a degree or use your exposure and experience gained at the internship to get a job in accounting.

There are plenty of employers such as KPMG, EY, P&G and Amazon who carry out accounting internships all year round. Sometimes, these employers may offer a permanent position at their respective firms. However, take note that a lot of these programmes are restricted to undergraduate students. You could try emailing your employer of choice and asking if there are any opportunities to come into the office for a couple of weeks to gain experience, If you don’t ask, you will never know!

Alternatively, you could apply to Studentteer in order to gain relevant experience in an industry of your choice. With Covid-19 restrictions, this is a great way to gain relevant work experience virtually too if you are not able to score an internship in person.

I hope you find this guide useful! In the meantime, remember to start taking control of your personal finances. Save money now, and money will save you later. Download Nova today to start your journey to financial freedom.

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