While many perceive accounting to be a bit of a boring area to work in, the profession can be really rewarding in many ways: job satisfaction, salary, promotion prospects, social working hours, etc... So how do you train to become a managerial accountant and will you need in order to pass the exam?
The Perfect Candidate For A Career In Accounting
If you have good numeracy skills, are good at managing money and have a strong, analytical mind then a managerial accounting career could be the perfect job for you to pursue. The ability to understand accounting practices and abide by the generally accepted accounting principles is a must for anybody working at accounting firms or in the corporate accounting and public accounting worlds.
As an accredited accountant, you can work in the private or public sector, for all different kinds of companies (big, small, retail,...) and covering various areas of business administration: payroll, auditor, bookkeeping, statistics, licensure, or another specialization. You will, therefore, need to think in advance about which area of accounting theory suits you as you will need to choose an accounting degree, accounting certificate or other accreditation that facilitates this before you apply to study accounting.
In general, accountants manage money.
This means that you will likely deal with budgeting, financial reporting, purchasing, all things related to pay, procurement and, of course, taxation. Some accounting professionals will also be involved in audits, either working as an internal auditor or an external auditor at an independent financial institution.
The principle strands of accountancy that you will choose from are:
- management accounting: which involves forecasting income and expenditure and cost reporting based on prerequisites like a financial budget – this is classed as a forward-looking function
- financial accounting: this involves creating financial documents like statements for shareholders based on historical monetary information
- tax accountants: these professionals advise businesses and self-employed individuals how to complete their tax return forms - you’ll need to have a high level of numeracy skills and sound thinking skills in order to work on this preparation function.
Requirements For Studying Accounting
You do not necessarily need a degree in accounting or a business degree to do accountancy work in public accounting firms, which makes it a much more accessible job than some others that expect applicants to have the highest possible level of qualifications.
Those with career goals of becoming a public accountant or bookkeeper, therefore, will be relieved to know that they can major in accounting without spending years studying at university campuses and it costing them a fortune.
In some areas, however, a higher learning degree is desirable, or at least it is deemed very useful. Maths and/or economics are classed as highly advantageous, especially as .careers in accounting are in high demand.
There are a range of different qualifications you can take and paths to go down you in order to earn the title of accountant.
The AAT qualification is the minimal level of qualification required for most kinds of government accounting. Once you have qualified in this area, you can then choose to take higher level of professional certification like the ACA, ACCA or CIMA, which will allow you to become a chartered accountant.
Take a look at the examples below to see what kind of basic accounting education requirements and prior learning you will need if you wish to become a certified public accountant.
- AAT (foundation qualification)
- Or ACA
- Or ACCA
- Or CIMA
- A level maths
- A level economics
- BTEC business studies
Ways To Study Accounting
As with most areas of learning, there are a number of ways you can learn about finance and accounting and the general accounting principles.
Firstly, you can learn about financial and managerial accounting in the classroom.
This is where you will begin your learning journey and it is probably the easiest and most beneficial way to learn about all accounting information like ethics, auditing, accounting concepts, accounting systems, international accounting, financial statements, forensic accounting, accounting information systems, liabilities, macroeconomics, tax returns and entrepreneurship.
Teachers will be able to prepare the content for classes in line with the curriculum, deliver this information in a logical way and be on hand to help with any queries you have there and then. Plus, educational establishments can advise you on admission processes for undergraduate accounting degrees at universities along with other degree programs (bachelor of science, bachelor of business, master of business, ...) that might help you get into international accounting.
Part-time and full-time classes are available at most colleges or establishments.
If attending classes is not possible for you due to your circumstances, you may like to think about distance learning, applying for an online accounting degree. Online learning, or e-learning as it is known to some, offers you flexibility and the opportunity to manage your own time effectively. An online degree also means you can learn about accounting online in the comfort of your own home or in a library.
Blended learning, meanwhile, is a learning style in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching so you would be mixing your online accounting course with one to one time with a teacher or master of accountancy.
Accounting Certification And Exams
As we've mentioned, the AAT qualification is typically the qualification that most prospective accountants will study toward, but to progress, you will also need to consider ACCA, ACA or CIMA qualifications, which we will provide more details on below.
A variety of finance diplomas and accounting programs are available to those interested in accounting careers - like Sage and other accounting software courses, which can be confusing when searching for tuition and job opportunities.
The most popular accountant qualifications include:
- AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) - made up of three qualifications across three levels, this accreditation combines industry knowledge and practical work skills.
- ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) - comprises of two levels: Fundamentals and Professionals.
- ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) for chartered accountant status - also referred to as the ACA. This qualification consists of three to five years of practical work experience and the completion of 13 modules.
- CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) a business finance award.
The Best Resources For Accountants
Books For Accountancy Studies
As a prospective accountant, studying towards one of the above qualifications, you may find the below accountancy books useful alongside your academic resources.
- “Money: The Unauthorized Biography” by Felix Martin: In this book, you can read about the history and importance of money in society. Published in 2014, this work is relatively recent so shows signs of the financial crisis of 2008. The book provides thought-provoking insights into the nature of money itself and leaves readers preparing for a career in accounting entertained and well-informed.
- “The Intentional Accountant: Your Roadmap to Building a Next Generation Accounting Firm” by Darren Root: A book for those who aspire to a career in finance, this book focuses on entrepreneurship, offering practical advice for mapping out and building a successful accounting firm. In the book, the author recounts his own career trajectory.
- “101 Questions and Answers for Managing an Accounting Practice” by Ed Mendlowitz: This author has written more than 16 books and developed a popular management framework known as the 30:30 Training Method. This title is among his collection of the most common questions you are likely to encounter in your own accounting career.
Other highly useful titles include:
- "Accounting Made Simple"
- "Accounting All-in-One for Dummies"
- "Accounting Handbook"
- "The Tax & Legal Playbook"
- "Warren Buffet Accounting"
- "Accounting Game"
- "The Bottom Line is Betrayal!
- "Accounting Principles"
More information on these publications can be found in our blog covering the books to read when studying accounting.
Websites Offering Accounting Resources
As a modern student, going to libraries isn't necessarily in your nature.
While you shouldn't rule out the benefits of reading hardback publications, you can still learn much from the Internet and, in particular, websites that are intended for those in the finance sector.
One of the biggest advantages of using online information is that is live and accurate and always up to date with what is happening in the world of business and finance. The disadvantage, however, is that you cannot always rely on information uploaded on the internet, particularly if you are visiting blogs run by individuals. Always try to stick to government or official sites when consulting the web for information for coursework or revision.
See below some examples of websites that might contribute to your learning journey (not replace other resources), some of which offer a lighter side to tax and accounting systems.
- Thomas Reuters Accounting Blog
- The Accounting Onion
- The Accountant
- Don't Mess with Taxes
- Fit Small Business
- Steve Maggs Tax Blog
- Accounting Insight News
- Journal of Accountancy
- Marks ACC Jokes
- HFM Tax Blog
- Accounting Coach
Furthermore, you can find a range of information online by searching using keywords. Try googling terms like those listed below to gain a better insight into the sector you have chosen to enter.
- federal income
- financial records
- financial report
- accounting auditing
- intermediate accounting
- business accounting
- principles of accounting
- credit hours
- advanced accounting