An overview of AAT qualifications
Accountancy has always been considered a reliable profession for students. It is seen as a fool-proof career plan, reassuring and high paying, but accountancy is so much more than that!
A career in accountancy can be exciting, full of challenges and provide a huge sense of satisfaction. Scores of renowned personalities such as the founder of Nike and Phil Knight (amongst others) have used their background as accountants to build their legacies.
It might surprise you to know that according to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), there were more than 360,000 people in the UK and 530,000 worldwide who were part of one of the seven accountancy bodies in 2017. With the rapid ascent of international trade and finance, the number of jobs has been increasing. In such a scenario, having an accountancy qualification seems like a sensible thing to do.
While there are several qualifications available in the field, an AAT qualification is considered as one of the best. The Association of Accounting Technicians or AAT is arguably one of the most prestigious accounting bodies with over 130,000 members spread across 100 countries. An AAT qualification is popular among employers and can help you reach your dream job.
This blog can act as a guide to answer your questions concerning the qualification like who can study AAT qualifications, why you should consider it, the career scope of the qualification, what an AAT qualification is equivalent to and the different types of AAT qualifications.
Why should you consider an AAT qualification?
It is an established myth that only people good at numbers or finance should consider a career in accountancy. On the contrary, an accountant is more of a storyteller—you use numerical excel sheets or finance figures of a company to tell its story. An AAT qualification is the magic wand that allows you to see patterns, make sense of them and create business insights from data.
Many students toy with the question, “why study AAT?” While you might be aware of common advantages of an AAT qualification like high paying jobs, here are a few offbeat benefits of pursuing this qualification.
· You get interesting challenges at work: Being an accountant is anything but boring. An accountancy career will improve your problem-solving skills as you’ll be faced with unique problems every day. You might have to paint a positive picture of negative data or use all your skills to fill in gaps where there is little data.
· You receive a sense of work satisfaction: Long gone are the days when accountants were only involved in deciphering financial data. With businesses becoming increasingly complex every day, your job as an accountant will involve wearing different hats and dealing with varied responsibilities including decision making, interviewing people, or making business pitches. Accomplishing these tasks well can provide you a sense of satisfaction.
· You can meet people and make important contacts: With AAT spread over 100 countries with more than a million members, the qualification allows you a lot of opportunities to meet new or like-minded people. As the famous sociologist Ronald Burt said: “Your network is your net worth.” An expanded network will increase the incidences of professional and personal opportunities in your career.
· You are adept at skills for other jobs as well: What do the legendary actor Bob Newhart, and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley have in common? They are both accountants who have moved on to other professions. An AAT qualification not just prepares you for an accountancy career but also hones additional skills that will help you establish a successful career in alternative fields.
What kind of jobs can an AAT qualification get you?
Whether you are a financial consultant looking to advance your career, or a recent commerce graduate who wants to pursue a career in accountancy, the AAT qualification caters to all types of financial career aspirants. Here are a few career roles available to you after you obtain the qualification:
· Budget analyst
· Cost estimator
· Financial analyst
· Personal financial advisor
· Tax consultant
· Bookkeeping clerk
· Financial auditor
· Accounting manager
What are the different types of AAT qualifications?
There are four broad categories of qualifications that are offered by the AAT. These categories are divided into further qualifications to cater to specific sections aspects of accountancy.
1. Accounting qualifications: AAT offers four different accounting qualifications. These are helpful if you want to pursue a career in core accountancy.
a. Foundation Certificate in Accounting (AAT level 2): This course lasts for 6-12 months and can help you enter junior or entry-level accounting roles.
b. Foundation diploma in accounting and business (AAT level 2): This course is also 6-12 months long and prepares you for an accountancy career after your high school diploma. It is restricted to people between the ages 16-19 years.
c. Advanced diploma in accounting (AAT level 3): This AAT level 3 module introduces you to more complex accounting disciplines and lasts for a year.
d. Professional diploma in accounting (AAT level 4): With this diploma, you will gain all the relevant skills such as evaluating financial performance or calculating business tax. This course is 1-1.5 years long.
2. Bookkeeping qualifications: The bookkeeping qualifications train you for a wide range of related positions. There are four qualifications under this category and all the courses last 12 weeks:
a. Access Award in Bookkeeping
b. Access Award in Accounting Software
c. Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping
d. Foundation Award in Accounting Software
e. Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping.
3. Access Award in Business Skills: This course is ideal for introducing young students to basic accounting techniques and principles which can interest them in pursuing a career in this field. It lasts for 12 weeks and can be joined upon completion of a high school diploma.
4. Advanced Award in GCC Value Added Tax: This qualification is extremely specific and is more suitable for people interested in a career in tax calculations. It provides you with essential knowledge pertaining to new VAT requirements and their compliance.
An AAT qualification can prepare you for accountancy skills and financial management which are at the heart of every business. The qualifications are internationally recognised and can help you secure a job in any corner of the world. You can also set up your own accountancy practice or use the qualification as a bridge to advanced degrees such as an MBA or a doctorate in finance.
If you want to ace your AAT exams, the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) offers you online tuition for AAT courses. Online options are affordable and offer the flexibility of online classes which can be beneficial if you are currently working.
Click here to learn more about these course options and prepare yourself for the exciting field of accountancy.
This article is written by Sweha Hazari and edited by Anisa C.