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How to Find a Job in Accounting in the UK

Updated on April 20, 2012
As an accountant you may work for one of the 'Big Four' accountancy companies or a small local company
As an accountant you may work for one of the 'Big Four' accountancy companies or a small local company | Source

Accountants in the UK can be employed in a lot of different sectors:

Company Accountant – The accountant is employed by a non-accounting company, such as a biscuit manufacturer, to produce the company’s accounts month by month, advise where savings can be made and forecasts about future profits or losses.

Public Sector Accountant – carrying out much the same job as a company accountant but employed in the public sector e.g. by the NHS.

Auditing Accountant – The accountant is employed by an external auditing company to go round to their clients’ companies and verify that the accounts are in order, are accurate and that they comply with The Companies Act (updated 2006). Part 15 of this act details the rules which different sized companies must follow with regards to accounting processes and finance. An auditing accountant may spend 2 days to 2 weeks or more with a client each year depending on the size of the company.

Independent Accountant – small companies or self-employed individuals can appoint an independent accountant or accounting company to look after their accounts, because it would be uneconomical for them to employ an accountant full time. An independent accountant will look after the accounts for several clients.

We May Not All Become Accountants, But We Can All Learn The Basics Of Accounting

Accounting Jobs for School Leavers

The ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms are Deloitte, Ernst and Young, KPMG and Ernst and Young and PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers). They have well publicised paid training programmes for students leaving school with level 3 qualifications such as A-levels. Entry requirements vary but expect are usually a B or more at maths and English GCSE and to be predicted 300 UCAS points which equates to 3 B’s at A-level. As you work, the company they will train you and pay for you to take accountancy qualifications. It is possible to become a chartered accountant via this route. To find and apply for one of these jobs you need to go onto the company’s website and then into the careers section.

Alternatively you could apply to do a degree programme sponsored by one of these companies – this will involve applying through UCAS for a degree in the normal way but selecting the relevant degree as one of your choices – for example Ernst and Young have a link with Lancaster University.

Smaller local accounting companies or larger non accounting companies with their own accountants may also have schemes like this, but they are understandably not as well publicised. To find these jobs, use the job search techniques listed below.

Accounting Jobs for Graduates

The ‘Big Four’ firms and many others take on university graduates as trainee accountants. It often surprises people to learn that you don’t have to have studied maths or accounting at degree level in order to be accepted as a trainee accountant. You can expect the larger companies to ask for a minimum of B’s in GCSE maths and English, 300 UCAS points and a 2:1 honours degree in any discipline. Smaller companies may have slightly lower entry requirements. To apply for these programmes you need to go onto the careers section of each company’s website. Also many universities will have a careers fair in the final year of your degree attended by companies seeking to employ graduates.

Accounting Jobs for Adults making a Career Change.

It is possible to change career and get into accounting later in life either with a degree or without. If you already have a degree you could be accepted as a trainee by firm in the same way as a recent graduate. For adults without a degree, a popular and successful route is to study AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) accounting qualifications part time in the evenings at a local college. You can start the AAT level 2 accountancy qualification even if you are not employed in accounting or finance and without any existing qualifications – although GCSE maths and English at C or above will help.

How to Find Advertised Jobs

In addition to going onto accountancy company websites, you can go onto the careers section on the website of any large company such as Tesco or B&Q and find accounting jobs often listed under finance. Lots of recruitment agencies have accountancy jobs on their books and some have a specialist accountancy section. You can register with national and local recruitment agencies and specify that you are looking for accounting jobs.

Local newspapers job sections are worth a look at and larger companies often advertise accounting jobs in the national broadsheet newspapers. The job centre website is another good place to start and always has plenty of accounting jobs listed as do other recruitment sites such as Monster and Fish4Jobs.

MAILSHOT TIP

Your mailshot should be addressed to a named individual such as the head of Human resources and recruitment. If you can’t find this information from the company website, often a phone call to the company’s reception desk will do the trick. All you need to say is ‘I need to send a letter to the human resources manager; who should I address it to?’ This will often get a straight forward answer of the name you need.

How to Find Unadvertised Jobs

Many jobs aren’t advertised at all or are minimally advertised – so how do people get them? Sometimes it is true that these jobs go to someone internal to the organisation, but often they go to job hunters who have been proactive and approached the company about a job at just the right moment.

CV Mailshot - Post a CV and covering letter to all the accountancy firms within a 10 mile radius of your home, which you can find via the yellow pages or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. You could also send it out to local companies large enough to have their own finance departments. Ten days after you sent out the letter you can make a follow up telephone call to check that they received it and to make a verbal inquiry about vacancies. Do log the details of companies you mail and phone and the results of the call so that you can record progress and not inadvertently call the same place two days running.

Networking - make everyone you know aware that you want to work as an accountant - they may know of an opportunity or pass your name on to someone else as a recommendation. Facebook and Twitter can be used for this, as can Linkedin - which is more business orientated, so ideal for networking.

Where Does All The Money End Up?

 As an accountant you will have to account for every penny of your company's income and expenditure.
As an accountant you will have to account for every penny of your company's income and expenditure. | Source

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    • jantamaya profile image

      Maria Janta-Cooper 

      5 years ago from UK

      I love this article! Great information. Thank you for writing it!

    • profile image

      uzzy1122 

      6 years ago

      nice article really informative. I plan on becoming an accountant as well so this was very useful

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