Our guide to accounting
Kristina K

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Our guide to accounting

First published date November 15 2013 Amended date October 31 2014

Ever dreamt of working in investment banks, Merrill Lynch or in the foreign exchange market? The money’s good and the work’s challenging, but of course, you need to build a strong foundation in accounting and finance first. Browse some of our popular accounting courses and choose from full time and part time degrees, short courses and professional qualifications.


Accountancy - old and boring?

How many dramas have you seen that involve accountants? Whilst we’ve got Law and Order, Grey’s Anatomy and Crime Scene Investigation, all focusing on how exciting jobs in the likes of law, medicine and policing can be, we can hardly think of a particular show that centres around the world of accounting. We have to admit, it’s no doubt difficult to make numbers and figures look exciting, but the maths whizz might argue otherwise. So if you’ve got a head for sums and logic, accounting may add up to an exciting career path.


Combined courses

When you study accounting, you have the option of combining it with other subjects. These subjects include finance, economics, business and lots more.  Course combinations like financial management and accounting are becoming more popular as graduates realise that international accounting firms offer an array of career opportunities to suit all interests such as traditional auditing and assurance work, management consulting, corporate finance, IT consulting, tax planning, human resources and insolvency. The same goes for large investment banks and financial institutions.


Want to study for an ACCA?

The ACCA (stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is a globally recognised accountancy qualification. It is a badge of quality and professionalism, and ensures that your knowledge and skills are of a professional standard. When you study for an ACCA, not only will you enhance your reputation, your position in the marketplace will also be strengthened, adding value to your CV. This qualification is recognised in many countries, applicable to auditing, accounting and the financial aspects of business, providing a rewarding and fulfilling career to students. You can choose to study ACCA full time or part time, depending on how much time you have available.


Other professional qualifications

Professional accounting qualifications include the Chartered Accountant designations and other qualifications, such as certificates and diplomas. Other than the ACCA, there are many other professional qualifications available. AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) accredited courses are designed to introduce you to accountancy and finance, refresh your existing knowledge and develop new skills. They also expanded their suite of qualifications and also launched new courses in accounting, bookkeeping, tax and business skills.
The ICAEW (The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) accredits ACA courses, where you’ll be introduced to core concepts underpinning accountancy such as accounting and finance, audit assurance, taxation, law, financial management and business finance. Or if you’d like to pursue management accounting, CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) is a good choice that combines accounting, finance and management with leading edge techniques needed to drive successful businesses. Students are taught to understand the story behind numbers and use them to make business decisions, apply analytical skills to look at end-to-end business processes to identify and manage risks, and learn to explain numbers to non-financial managers. 

Fancy working in the Big 4?

It’s probably every accountant’s dream to work in PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche, KPMG or Ernst & Young. These public practice sectors offer audit, tax, insolvency, forensic accountancy and business support. Accountants who work in one of the Big 4 enjoy the privilege that comes with it but also a huge workload. You’ll be expected to carry out payroll accounting, cost accounting, auditing, bookkeeping and financial management.


What do you learn?

Accountancy qualifications develop your understanding of accountancy practices, commerce, industry and finance. You also develop a range of subject specific, technical and more general transferable skills that include problem solving and analytical ability, knowledge of global business issues, entrepreneurship and language, numerical, quantitative, oral and communication skills.


Job opportunities

Accountants can work in any business or industry. Choose from public practice, public sector and industry and commerce. If you secure work in large accountancy firms with offices in major towns, there are opportunities for travel, and often, employ hundreds of trainees at one time, allowing you to experience a supportive community in an almost university-style atmosphere. With an accountancy degree, your world is an oyster.


Strange but true!

It was an accountant who invented bubble gum! His name was Walter E.Diemer, and he worked for Fleer Chewing Gum as an accountant. Walter also had a flair for inventing and enjoyed experimenting with new chewing gum recipes in his spare time. In 1928, Diemer stumbled across a new recipe that would later become the original bubble gum and then go on to be named Double Bubble. Diemer discovered that his new recipe enabled the gum to be more flexible but less sticky than typical chewing gum. Diemer decided to make up some samples of the new gum recipe and sell them at a local soda shop. It is said that the original bubble gum flavour was pink because that was the colour of food dye that Diemer had on hand.


Interesting facts about accountancy

·         Accountancy is one of the oldest professions in the world.

·         Many famous celebrities were accountants.

·         The tax code has expanded by one million words in the past five years.

·         60% of taxpayers must hire a professional to get through their own return, which means accountants are hardly ever out of jobs.

·         Accountants help catch bad guys! They often look out for fraud.

·         Archaeologists have discovered ancient clay accounting tokens

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