Accounting and finance job entry requirements

Aoife Smyth our consultant managing the role

A career in finance and accountancy remains one of the most reliable career paths, even in uncertain times. The recent economic challenges have reinforced this premise, but during periods of downturn, talented finance professionals are in even higher demand. They are crucial for driving growth, raising capital, and ensuring business sustainability.

If you are a graduate, it’s natural to be unsure of your next steps. Some may pursue further studies, others might go travelling, and some will be eager to jump straight into employment. There is no right or wrong path. 

That said, a graduate job in accountancy offers a great opportunity for those uncertain about their future direction. 

It allows you to gain full-time employment while continuing further training. Sound too good to be true? 

Join us as we answer key questions about how to enter the industry, what to expect from your employer, and the potential career paths available.

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. Many employers value a variety of educational backgrounds and focus on skills and potential. While a degree can be beneficial, it's not always a prerequisite.

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 chosen a similar career path too!”

Most of our clients at Marks Sattin look into hiring university graduates and are keen to speak with people with degrees in sciences, arts, and humanities subjects.

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


What are the entry requirements and skills needed for accounting and finance jobs? 

Entry-level positions often require strong numerical skills, attention to detail, and proficiency with relevant software. Internships, apprenticeships, and entry-level roles provide on-the-job training and experience. 

Professional certifications like ACCA, CIMA, or AAT can also enhance your credentials and open doors to more opportunities, regardless of your academic background. With dedication and the right training, you can build a successful career in accounting and finance without a specialised degree.

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

In most graduate finance and accountancy roles, you will be required to complete at least some modules to work toward becoming a qualified accountant. 

However, your day-to-day work will support your studies, and your employer will assist you through the qualification process by providing resources and study support. Here are 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 252,500 members and 526,000 future members in 180 countries. The ACCA qualification proves to employers that you are a competent finance professional.

To gain this qualification you must pass 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 season and a period of ten years to complete these exams. The average time to qualification is 3 years. 

  • 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? 

As a trainee accountant, you can expect a competitive salary, which typically ranges from £27,000 to £40,000 per year, depending on your location and the size of the firm. 

In addition to your base salary, many firms offer performance-related bonuses, which can significantly enhance your earnings.

Benefits often include:

  • Study support - many employers provide financial assistance for exam fees, study materials, and paid study leave to help you progress through your qualifications.
  • Health and wellness - access to private healthcare, dental insurance, and wellness programs.
  • Pension plans - contributions to pension schemes to help you save for the future.
  • Paid time off - generous holiday allowances and additional leave for study or exam preparation.
  • Professional development - opportunities for continuous learning and development through workshops, seminars, and mentoring programs.
  • Flexible working - options for remote work or flexible hours to support work-life balance.

These packages are designed to support your career growth while ensuring a balanced and rewarding work experience.

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. 

As a specialist recruitment firm with over 30 years of experience, we offer extensive networks, tailored job matching, and expert career guidance to help you secure the right role. 

By partnering with Marks Sattin, you can streamline your job search and enhance your prospects in the finance and accountancy sector. 

Search for your next accounting and 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.

05/06/24
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