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Frequently asked questions about accountancy

Here are a few FAQs regarding training as an accountant in Guernsey.

Why qualify as an accountant?

Many people work in accounts offices without being qualified accountants, but a professional qualification broadens your prospects meaning you are given more responsibility, are offered better placements and opportunities, reach a higher position within a firm and are better paid.

Does it matter what A Levels I study and is it better to have a degree before I start training?

The subjects are not really important. Firms simply want to know that you are comfortable with both figures and words and are academically capable. Many accountants are graduates but you don't have to be. After completing your A Levels you might do an accountancy foundation course, Association of Accounting Technicians or Certified Accounting Technician exams before beginning chartered or certified studies.

Where will I train?

Chartered Accountants, and most Certified Accountants, usually train with one of the established accountancy firms in the island, however some firms from other areas of the local finance industry offer training for accountants as well. Training involves in-house courses and in-depth education away from the office, locally or in the UK.  Working towards becoming a qualified accountant requires a lot of private study in your own time, especially ahead of exams. Studying does require a lot of dedication but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

How long will it take to qualify?

Depending on the qualifications you have to start with, which might give you exemptions from some of the early exams, on average accounting technicians take 3 years to qualify. Chartered and Certified Accountants take 3 to 5 years.

What exactly will I study?

Subjects that have to be studied include auditing, law, information systems, management, taxation, bookkeeping and accounts production.

What happens if I fail?

If you fail an exam you can take that paper again. Training firms are usually supportive of their students re-sitting exams, although they may not pay the course and entry fees the second time around. Firms are very supportive of their trainee accountants and it is rare for people to drop out.

What are the best aspects of being an accountant?

Generally accountants consider the most enjoyable parts of their jobs to be: dealing with a variety of clients, the individual responsibility they are given for their work and the opportunities for travel and varying the type of work they do.

What is the career progression like?

Career progression can be quite rapid in accountancy. Once qualified you can realistically expect to be made a manager after two years then progress to senior manager after that and potentially, if you are very capable, reach partner or director of the firm within 10 years of qualification. However, this all depends on your ability and commitment to the role.

What is the social life like?

Accountancy firms tend to have large numbers of young people in their workforce so there is a good culture of socialising with colleagues. Most big firms have active social committees that arrange events and activities for all the staff.