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AAT or ACCA – Where does your career take you?

There are a number of routes you can take in order to achieve your goal of becoming an accountant. The purpose of this blog is to help you make an informed decision regarding what actually is the best route to take, beginning with an introduction to the routes available, the relative cost as well as the overall practicality and salary expectations you can achieve along the way.

What is AAT?

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) was founded in 1980 and is currently the world’s leading professional body for accounting technicians with over 150,000+ members world-wide – notable wouldn’t you say? If you are planning on becoming an accountant, this could most certainly be a viable option for you. AAT is constructed of both accounting, bookkeeping and essential (one-day) qualifications which are easily accessible, offering students extremely flexible learning options. You can enrol either on a part time or full-time basis and study through various methods including classroom, online distance learning or blended learning – sounds good wouldn’t you say? The expected completion date ranges anything between 9 and 18 months depending on how and when you feel prepared enough to undertake the examinations. The benefits of completing this qualification are vast. To begin with, if you began this course with no prior accounting knowledge, you now possess the most valuable thing of all – KNOWLEDGE. But don’t worry, your salary also rises as you rise through the ranks – the adjacent image illustrates the earning potential you can achieve. However, this is merely for illustrative purposes as salaries can vary, the one thing for certain is that this will in one-way or another improve your overall salary.


What is ACCA?

Similarly, like AAT, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a globally recognised accounting body with more than 208,000+ qualified members world-wide. This qualification trains you to become a qualified accounting professional with an extensive understanding of current accounting practices, standards and tools. However, unlike AAT, this qualification requires you to complete 14 exam papers, understandingly consuming considerably more time to complete.  Moreover, this qualification isn’t open to just to any student. ACCA has entry requirements of two A-levels and three GCSE’s in five separate subjects including English and Maths. This qualification is mainly tailored for students who have previously completed qualifications whereas in comparison, AAT allows you to get qualified without previous accounting knowledge or qualifications. The adjacent chart demonstrates the average salary expectations for the area of London for an ACCA trainee through to achieving fully qualified status (Between 4-6 years). As can be evident, salary expectations seem to be slightly higher for ACCA when compared to AAT, however, a number of aspects need to be taken into consideration prior to enrolling. You need to consider whether this is the best option to take, this course is extremely demanding both time and financially. It does not offer the flexibility that AAT offers nor the easy acceptance.


AAT/ACCA – at final glance

As can be seen in the above chart, the “food for thought” is outlined. Both courses have their pros and cons but both, in my opinion can’t be compared. AAT is tailored to entry-level students whereas ACCA is tailored more towards the already-professional ones. As you are most probably a beginner, reading this blog, the clear choice of course is AAT. But fear not, this is still a very lucrative course to undertake. Findings in a survey constructed by AAT (2019) divulged a number of interesting and more importantly relevant findings. One of these finding was that AAT members are continuously experience periods of growth with regards to their salaries as they progress through the different stages of AAT, with student salaries going up 6%, affiliates salaries up7% and MAAT/FMAAT salaries going up 8% compared to 2017. This is further reinforced by 77% of students agreeing on a general consensus that completing this qualification has improved their overall earning potential. Moreover, job satisfaction for students across all regions is at the all-time high, with 76% stating that they are either very or quite satisfied with their current job. This is also demonstrated by an enormous 85% of previous students feeling very secure within their job role. Overall, the indications of this survey divulged that you, as a student, heighten your chances of being successful by undertaking and completing the AAT qualification.

This blog’s principle aim was to inform you, of the available paths available when pursuing a career in accounting. So, whether you are a doubtful, unsure and hesitant student on the directions available when considering this path, the information within should provide you with the answer’s necessary in order to make an informed decision. In my opinion, when starting afresh, AAT is the course you should undertake due to all the given benefits when compared to the restraints of ACCA. No matter what you decide to do, be certain, either qualification will provide you with the necessary foundations in order to become successful in the field of accounting.

 – Daniel Khanna

Monday December 9th, 2019


The AAT Accounting qualification provides the perfect pathway to a successful career in finance and accountancy. We are one of the UK’s leading AAT providers and offer students a unique mix of practical expertise with vital theoretical teaching. Whether you’re a school-leaver, re-training or returning to work, our courses offer the ideal route into accountancy.

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