Which qualification is the best one to have?
AAT - Association of Accounting Technicians - www.aat.co.uk
As a worldwide professional organisation with close links to the four main UK accounting bodies, this is a good first qualification for those who want to start their career in accounting.
If you are an accounts assistant or are an aspiring management accountant, the AAT qualification will suit anyone working in Financial Services, Professional Services, Commerce and Public Sector. The qualification is a combination of practical experience and exams, offering flexible ways of completing the course be it distance learning, evening classes or days out of the office.
Students are assessed through a combination of formal exams and skills tests. The skills tests assess your ability in carrying out practical activities and test how you operate in the workplace, possibly including evidence of skills previously gathered.
The course is flexible and can be tailored to your individual needs. You are able to decide whether to do individual or groups of units from the scheme. It's not compulsory to complete an entire level as you will gain recognition for each unit achieved.
ACCA - Association of Chartered Certified Accountants - www.uk.accaglobal.com
The ACCA has over 300,000 members and students worldwide and offers a number of accountancy qualifications for those just starting their accounting career or to qualified professionals who want to extend their existing skills.
To qualify, you will take 3 levels of examinations and complete a minimum of 3 years supervised and relevant practical experience in accounting or an accounting related area. You will usually complete the accountancy qualification within 3 years although you can spread it out over 10 years.
ACT – Association of Corporate Treasurers www.treasurers.org
The Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT) is the international body for finance professionals working in treasury, risk and corporate finance. Through the ACT we come together as practitioners, technical experts and educators in a range of disciplines that underpin the financial security and prosperity of an organisation.
The ACT defines and promotes best practice in treasury and makes representations to government, regulators and standard setters.
We are also the world’s leading examining body for treasury, providing benchmark qualifications and continuing development through training, conferences and publications.
CF - Corporate Finance Qualification - www.cfqualification.com
Recently introduced by the ICAEW (link), the CF seeks to instil effective leadership and practical skills in those who achieve qualification. As it has only recently been introduced, senior practitioners will be able to achieve CF status at an accelerated rate.
The course is broken down into three stages – the Introductory Certificate, the Intermediate Diploma and the Advanced Diploma – and each stage must be completed before the next is started. Practical work experience is an essential element of the qualification. Studiers will need to be able to produce evidence of three years of experience when they have completed their diploma.
Certified Fraud Examiner - www.cfenet.com
The Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) qualification indicates expertise in fraud prevention, detection and investigation and is particularly useful in the area of forensics. For anti-fraud professionals, the CFE credential is the preferred certification of their status. The qualification combines a knowledge of financial transactions with elements of law and investigations to resolve allegations and instances of fraud.
Qualifying points are awarded to assess whether or not you are eligible to embark on CFE study. In our experience those who study for the CFE are already qualified ACAs looking to specialise in the area of fraud.
CIMA - Chartered Institute of Management Accountants - www.cimaglobal.com
CIMA has over 131,000 students and members internationally. This qualification has a strong strategic and financial management focus.
To pass, you will take three levels of examinations and complete 3 years of practical experience with an employer. There are certain exemptions available dependent on the accountancy qualifications you already posses, the CIMA website lists all of these. You don't have to take this qualification and become an accountant, it is relevant to the full remit of finance and business management roles although is less frequently associated within Tax or Audit.
CIPFA -Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy- www.cipfa.org.uk
CIPFA is a specialist professional association that focuses on training for accountants who work in the public sector. The qualification is relevant for those working in the NHS, Local Government and other public organisations, and also directly relevant to private sector firms who work in public sector areas.
You can choose how you wish to study dependent on whether you want learn in your own time, take day release from work or weekly block release. There are two stages to obtaining the qualification combining a mix of exams and assignments, with the qualification usually taking three and a half years.
ICAEW - Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales- www.icaew.co.uk
One of the largest professional accountancy bodies in Europe, qualifying from the ICAEW is highly regarded in all industries.
Before you can begin your studies, you must first find an employer who is willing to offer you a training contract. As employers are investing in you in terms of time and money, you will often find these contracts last for a minimum of 3 years and in a lot of cases 5 years, so take time to find the right employer who specialises in an area you are interested in and offers the right training environment for you.
Joint Insolvency Examination Board / Certificate of Proficiency in Insovency - www.r3.org.uk
Established in the 80’s, the JIEB qualification is tested by an annual set of exams. Success in the examinations results in achievers being able to join the IPA (Insolvency Practitioners Association).
In the mid 90’s, an intermediate qualification was created for those with experience of working as an Insolvency Practitioner who are competent working in insolvency but not ready to sit for the full JIEB examination. To be eligible to study for the CPI prospective students require 5 GCSE passes as well as evidence of having worked in insolvency for a significant period of time.
ICSA - Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators - www.icsa.org.uk/
The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) is the recognised global voice on governance and regulatory issues in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Working with governmental and other statutory bodies, ICSA promotes best practice and provides guidance on good governance. As the qualifying body for company secretaries and senior administrators, ICSA offers a professional qualification covering business, company law, corporate governance, management, finance/accounting, administration and company secretarial practice. No other professional body in the business area offers the breadth of knowledge which the ICSA Qualifying Scheme provides.
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