Research from ‘The Graduate Survey 2014’ reported that in 2015, accounting will be one of the sectors with the biggest growth in vacancies, and also one of the sectors offering the best paid graduate jobs. The report is great news for anyone graduating from university this year and hoping to get a position in accounting or finance. However, focusing on university graduates fails to inform anyone who is planning their career that going to university is not the only route into accounting and other high paying roles.
Various Routes Into Accounting
After leaving college aged 18, Emily Barber decided not to attend university, and instead decided to join Grant Thornton as an Audit Associate whilst completing a higher apprenticeship and studying for an AAT qualification in accounting.
Emily says “I knew I didn’t want to go to University when I left college at 18 as I felt it wasn’t for me. I knew accountancy was what I wanted to do but I wanted to gain practical experience at a firm whilst studying for a good qualification. I was worried at first with trying to balance work, life, and study all in one go but my firm was very supportive and as they have a lot of trainees everyone is going through the same thing at the same time, and they understand.
I‘m very happy with the route I took to begin my career in accounting and I would say it is the best way, as not only do you complete the exams but the on-the-job training is fantastic especially if, like me, you learn best by doing the work.”
Jan Chowdhury had always known she wanted to get into accounting, but, like Emily, decided not to go to university. She got a training contract at a firm, where she worked while studying for an NVQ in accounting. She’s now a Senior Auditor at a chartered accountancy firm in London.
Jan says “At the beginning of my A-Levels, I was looking at ways to get into accountancy; I went to conferences and researched websites and found that an AAT qualification was an effective way to get into accountancy with no prior knowledge required.
Whilst all my peers decided to go to university, I really wanted to get into my career from a young age with hands on experience and with a qualification that uses real life situations instead of being based on theoretical principles.
The training is not easy by all means, its hard work, and long hours, but extremely rewarding. I literally did meaningful client work within three days of starting. When I finally qualified I had a much easier time compared to graduates as I was used to the work environment and professional studies, which is very different from academic qualifications. In addition to that, through my firm I developed basic skills that are not taught, from business writing to leading meetings with 20 or more people.
As a result of the AAT qualification and my experience, I led assignments within two years and I’ve managed to progress in my career quite quickly.”
Options part from university to still earn high
Students need to be made more aware of the options available apart from university, and that they can make it into high paying careers through other methods, as Emily and Jan did. Many may be reluctant to build up £9,000 pounds a year of tuition fees at university, and they should know that an apprenticeship or vocational qualification could help them get into the same careers, without building up as much debt.
Careers advice in many secondary schools is not adequate, with research by AAT showing that 84% of students would like or would have liked more advice from their school or college about their future options. Students should be given all the information they need to make informed decisions about their future, including being told that university is not the only way.