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Chartered Accounting - Expectation vs. Reality

Chartered Accounting - Expectation vs. Reality 

Accounting is a stable career choice, which offers stability and excellent career progression. 

Throughout their careers, Accountants will undertake additional training to advance their career or work towards a promotion at work, by undertaking additional training and studying professional qualifications.   

For many, earning their chartered status is the career goal to work towards, and this takes years of dedicated study and hard work to achieve. Read our interview with a CIMA graduate to get an understanding of what your journey could look like if you decide to work towards becoming a Chartered Accountant.   

In this article, we review what chartered accounting is, and explore the different avenues for getting into accounting. We will also showcase the latest average UK salaries for Chartered Accountants.  

What is a Chartered Accountant? 

A Chartered Accountant is an accountant who has completed the necessary qualifications to achieve their chartered status. This equates to a high level of professional experience earned throughout many years of work as an Accountant, making them highly regarded by employers. 

As a Chartered Accountant, you will become a member of a chartered accountancy organisation, such as CIMA, which further supports your credentials and adds legitimacy to your chartered status. 

Once you have achieved chartered status, you will find employment either in-house (possibly within a large organisation) or within an accountancy firm. However, many chartered accountants choose to work on a freelance basis as a sole trader.  

What does a Chartered Accountant do? 

Due to their wide range of experience in the field of finance, Chartered Accountants are frequently asked to oversee complex financial matters, which may include:  

  •  Managing financial processes, such as cash flow.
  •  Providing personal financial advice.
  •  Investigating fraud claims via forensic accounting.
  •  Managing the finances of large corporations, often including tax or company mergers. 

While Chartered Accountants usually have a wide range of expertise on several financial topics, it is usual for Chartered Accounts to specialise in certain financial areas, which can also help when building up a client base for freelance workers.  

Explore what it’s like in the day of an Accountant.                       

Avenues to get into accounting        

While there is no one single path into accounting, there are various ways in which you could enter the profession and begin to work your way towards chartered status.  

Many people will begin their career in accounting with a degree in a relevant subject, such as Accounting, Business, Economics, or Finance. However, this is certainly not essential as there are other routes into accounting that are equally valid.  

Other professionals become Accountants by first gaining experience as a Bookkeeper. This is a great way for you to develop an understanding of working in accounts to see if the role is suitable for you.  

After gaining the relevant experience, you can then go on to earn the necessary qualifications to start training to become an Accountant, such as the AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2). As you progress your career in accounting, you will be able to take more AAT and CIMA qualifications to earn your chartered status.  

There are no shortcuts to chartered status, and the process will take you approximately 3-5+ years to achieve. However, chartered status will allow you to prove your expertise and skill to potential clients, who are happy to pay well for the right candidates.   

Find out how to become an Accountant. 

The average wage for a chartered accountant                  

The average wage of a Chartered Accountant will vary depending on what area you are specialising in, your location, and whether you are working for an organisation, accounting firm, or as a freelancer.  

While Graduate Accountants at the beginning of their career can expect to earn up to £30,000, a Chartered Accountant who has completed the necessary qualifications can earn over £85,000 per annum, with the potential to receive an additional bonus around £17,000.  

The financial and career benefits of earning your Chartered status are clear. As a freelancer or sole trader, a Chartered Accountant would typically charge between £25 and £35 an hour for their services.  

Discover more about a career in accounting

Accounting Training Courses 

We offer a wide range of training courses for those looking to embark on a career in accounting. If you are new to the industry, it would be worth starting with AAT training courses first, before studying the CIMA Professional Qualifications. 

AAT Training Courses

CIMA Training Courses 

If a career in Accounting sounds interesting to you, but you’re unsure how to get started, contact us to speak with one of our Career Consultants to find out more. Alternatively, call us on +44 (0) 20 3198 7700. 

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