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How long does an AAT qualification take?

Studying for your AAT qualifications is a popular way to fast-track a career in Bookkeeping and Accounting, with many students choosing to study AAT with e-Careers each month. 

AAT courses are so popular as they offer a great way to study in a way that offers logical progression, that advances with your knowledge, through the different levels. They also offer a qualification recognised by employers around the world.

In this article, we review the range of AAT qualifications, show how long each one should take to complete and highlight a few career path opportunities.

Why study AAT?

AAT is the Association of Accounting Technicians, and they are an accounting body for accounting professionals. They have over 130,000 active members.

AAT training teaches you the fundamental and advanced principles and techniques required for a career in Bookkeeping or Accounting.

Improve your earning potential

Salaries for AAT certified professionals in the UK has risen this year. The average salary by job level has been outlined below:

  • Administrator - £20,000
  • Accounts/Finance Assistant - £21,000
  • Accounts/Finance Officer - £27,000
  • Team Leader/Supervisor - £28,000
  • Junior Manager - £31,000
  • Middle Manager - £36,000
  • Director/Senior Manager - £46,000

Gain Designatory Letters after your name

Earning your AAT Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications will give you AATQB and professional MAAT status, letting you use the designatory letters AATQB and MAAT after your name. These designatory letters show you have gained the skills, experience and knowledge required to work in this sector.

Earning AATQB status (gained with AAT Level 3) makes you a qualified Bookkeeper.

Earning your MAAT status (gained with AAT Level 4) makes you a qualified Accountant. Your MAAT status lets you apply for a licence to run your own practice as an AAT Licensed Accountant or Bookkeeper.

Your AAT licence is a mark of professionalism and compliance.

Your AATQB status will enable you to start your own business and apply to provide up to 5 services to clients as an AAT Licensed Bookkeeper (first 5 listed below), and your MAAT status will let you apply for up to 18 services.

These include:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Financial accounts and accounts preparation for sole traders and partnerships
  • VAT
  • Computerised accountancy systems
  • Payroll 
  • Financial accounts and accounts preparation for statutory purposes
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Management accounting
  • Personal income tax
  • Business income tax
  • Inheritance tax 
  • Capital gains tax
  • Corporation tax
  • Limited assurance engagement
  • Independent examination          
  • Company secretarial services     
  • Internal audit    
  • Forensic accounting

Read more: AAT, what you need to know

How many levels are there in AAT?

There are 3 AAT Bookkeeping levels and 4 AAT Accounting levels.

These are:



How long does an AAT qualification take?

For most students, each AAT Bookkeeping qualification takes around 3-5 months to complete, and each AAT Accounting qualification takes slightly longer, with an average completion time of 6-8 months.

AAT Foundation Certificate (Level 2)

If you’re working full-time, you can expect to complete your AAT Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping (Level 2) in around 3 months.

The AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2) can be completed in around 6 months.

AAT Advanced Certificate/Diploma (Level 3)

If you’re working full-time, you can expect to complete your AAT Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping (Level 3) in around 5 months.

The AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting (Level 3) can be completed in around 8 months.

AAT Professional Diploma (Level 4)

There is no AAT Professional Diploma in Bookkeeping (Level 4).

If you’re working full-time, you can complete your AAT Level 4 Professional Diploma in around 18 months.

What does AAT qualified mean?

AAT qualifications are equivalent to GCSEs at Level 2, A-Levels at Level 3, and QCF Level 4 at Level 4.

Being AAT qualified means that you have earned your AAT Levels 3 and 4 qualifications, gained through passing your relevant exams, enabling you to legally offer a range of services (listed above).

Read more: 5 simple steps to becoming an Accountant

Typical jobs and salaries available with AAT qualifications

  • Bookkeeper - £27,000
  • Senior Bookkeeper - £31,000
  • Ledger Manager - £32,000
  • Accounts Manager - £33,000
  • Senior Bookkeeper - £31,000
  • Accounts Payable/Expenses Supervisor - £33,000
  • Commercial Analyst - £34,000
  • Senior Finance Officer - £37,000
  • VAT Accountant - £37,000
  • Payments & Billing Manager - £39,000
  • Payroll Manager - £40,000
  • Cost Accountant - £40,000
  • Fixed Asset Accountant - £45,000
  • Indirect Tax Manager - £56,000

Is it better to study it online or in the classroom?                            

Most people will already have a preferred way to study, likely developed over the years through undertaking different study opportunities.

While some people may be more comfortable in a classroom setting, there are many benefits to online training (which has increased over the years since the pandemic).

Online training benefits include:

Greater flexibility – When you study online, you can study at times that suit you. This means that online learning is perfect for those with demanding jobs and busy lives.

Work at your own pace – Compared with classroom learning, online learning may be preferable to those who wish to work at their own pace.

Greater focus – Online courses enable you to choose your own environment for maximum focus and concentration.

Often cheaper – Many find online courses to be more affordable when compared to traditional in-person learning. 

Read more: Online learning vs. Classroom learning

Ready to get started? Our AAT Course Consultants are available to discuss your career goals in more detail to help you decide which courses are right for you and your career progression. Simply call us on +44 (0)20 3198 7700 or fill out our contact form, and we will be in touch shortly.

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