Early careers advice

Aoife Smyth our consultant managing the role

A career in finance and accountancy is one of the most reliable career paths during uncertain times. The pandemic certainly helped solidify this premise, however in times of prosperity, talented finance professionals are even more sought after, as they are essential for driving growth, raising capital and ensuring the business is sustainable. 

If you are a graduate, it’s natural to be unsure of your next steps. Some people might undertake further study, others go travelling, and some will be keen to get straight into employment. There is no right or wrong path. 

To this point, a graduate job in accountancy is a great opportunity for people who are unsure of what they want to do, as it is an opportunity to work in full-time employment alongside further training. Sounds too good to be true? In this article we answer some key questions about how to get into the industry, what to expect from your employer, and potential career paths. 

I don’t have a degree in finance, accountancy or economics. Can I still get a job in accountancy?

First things first, you do not need a finance, accountancy or economics degree to get a job in accountancy. 

Lucy, a Loughborough graduate with a degree in chemistry, works as an Assistant Management Accountant at a Cambridgeshire FMCG business, she explains “starting a career in accountancy was an easy decision, as the maths and critical thinking skills I developed during my degree made finance a natural career path for me. Several people from my degree have gone down a similar career path too!”. 

Most of our clients looking to hire university graduates are keen to speak with people with degrees in sciences, arts, and humanities subjects. The most important thing to them is that you have a willingness to learn and develop within their organisation.

The most important thing is that you have a willingness to learn and develop within their organisation".


What is the difference between the accountancy qualifications, and do I have to undertake one as part of my contract? 

For most graduate finance and accountancy roles, you will have to undertake at least some of the modules to work towards becoming a qualified accountant. However, your day-to-day work will support your studies, and your employer will help you through your qualification by providing resources and study support. Here’s some details on the different qualifications

  • ACCA

ACCA stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, a leading international accountancy body. It is the largest and fastest growing qualification in the world with over 500,000 members and students in 170 countries. The ACCA qualification proves to employers that you are a competent finance professional.

To gain this qualification you must pass a maximum of 13 exams in English and have relevant practical experience, which you can gain in any business sector you are working in. You can take up to four exams each session, and you have ten years to do it. It takes most people two or three years to qualify

  • ACA

The ICAEW Chartered Accountant qualification, or ACA, is one of the most advanced learning and professional development programmes available. It is valued around the world in business, practice and the public sector.

To become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, you must study and pass 15 exam modules focused on different aspects of accountancy, finance and business. Designed to provide you with in-depth knowledge across a range of topics, each of the ACA qualification modules is directly relevant to the work that you will do throughout your training.

  •  CIMA

 CIMA is a specialised management accounting qualification, which would suit individuals looking to work as a management accountant and manage a team. When you become a qualified CIMA candidate, you can use the designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), giving you an industry-recognised qualification.

On average, students complete the 12 professional qualification exams in four years. Most students attempt two or three exams at each sitting, but they can be completed in three sittings.

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What salary, bonus and benefits can I expect as a trainee accountant? 

In a commercial finance function, a graduate in London can expect to earn between £26,000 to £30,000. However, upon completion of part of your accountancy qualifications, this can rise to £40,000 to £50,000. And once you become fully qualified, you can expect to earn at least £58,000 PA.

In terms of benefits and bonuses, this varies greatly depending on your employer and sector. For more information on regional salary and market trends, download our Market Insight and Salary Trend Report.

Where can I find graduate finance and accountancy roles, and how can Marks Sattin help me? 

There are several places you can find graduate roles. Specialist job boards like Milkround (for graduates) and CityJobs (for finance and accountancy), generalist job boards like REED, and professional networking sites like LinkedIn.

Marks Sattin is a great place to start exploring your options in a more personalised way. Our consultants stay abreast of the latest trends in the graduate recruitment market. Whether it's commercial finance, financial services or professional services. This detailed overview of the commercial landscape enables us to advise professionals where their best career opportunities lie.

As a specialist recruitment firm with over 30 years’ experience, we've helped many professionals find their next exciting opportunity, whether that's within global organisations or growing SMEs.

Search for your next commercial finance job, or register your details to shortlist jobs and sign up for job alerts so you're the first to hear about our latest opportunities.


10/10/23
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