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How to become an accountant: accountant career path, salary & more

Accountants perform a range of services to clients, including managing financial records, filing tax returns and generally providing financial advice. Becoming an accountant is a rewarding and often very lucrative career that requires dedication, hard work, attention to detail and excellent maths skills. Here we’ll answer all your questions, such as; what is an accountant, how much do accountants make and how long does it take to become an accountant? We’ll also look at the accountant career path, what qualifications do you need to be an accountant and the different options available to those interested in how to become an accountant, including the AAT, CIMA and ACCA courses offered by StaySharp.

Take the first step towards your career in accountancy with StaySharp

StaySharp offers learners the opportunity to train as an accountant with three of the industry’s most respected authorities, ACCA, AAT and CIMA. While there are differences between the three, each course offers leaners the chance to build and develop all the skills an accountant needs to succeed. The first step towards a career in accountancy is to simply decide which course is right for you.

What is an accountant?

An accountant specialises in managing financial records, processes, and transactions. Accountants have many responsibilities that require a detailed knowledge of finance and accounting principles. They must be able to analyse data, review financial statements for accuracy and create reports that accurately represent the financial operations of an organisation. Accountants are also required to maintain accurate records of all transactions made by clients in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Additionally, they may be called upon to develop strategies for investing funds or reducing costs associated with running an organisation.

The path that you take towards becoming an accountant will differ depending on the type of accountancy you wish to practice. Different types of accountants include chartered accountant, managerial accountant, auditor, tax accountant and forensic accountant – of course, for the most part, the skillset required is similar between each of these roles.

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How much do accountants make?

The salary you can expect to earn in your accountancy career varies depending on your qualifications, the type of accountancy you practice and your specific job role. The average accountant salary in the UK is around £38,000. Those just starting out in an entry level accountant role, such as an accounting assistant or junior accountant can expect to earn between £24,000 and £29,000 a year. At the other end of the scale, some senior accountants or those working in government accounting positions could be earning well in excess of £70,000 per annum.

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What qualifications do you need to be an accountant?

There are many different pathways into an accountancy career, from traditional higher education to the courses offered here at StaySharp. So, what A Levels do you need to be an accountant and how can you find your way into accounting with alternative qualifications?

What A Levels do you need to be an accountant?

Those seeking to get into accounting through traditional education alone tend to start their pathway into accountancy by studying a relevant A-Level subject, such as mathematics, economics or business studies. Following this, most go on to obtain a degree in Finance & Accounting, or another similar subject. This degree can then be used to access entry level job roles in the accounting world, such as a junior or trainee accountant.

How to become an accountant with AAT, ACCA or CIMA

To further your career and earning potential, you can train as an accountant by gaining AAT, ACCA or CIMA accreditation. These highly respected qualifications consist of several units that have each been specially designed to equip learners will all the expertise and skills an accountant needs to begin and thrive in the accountant career path.

All of these courses are available to study with StaySharp. Studying with us allows you to gain a highly respected accounting qualification on your own time and from wherever you might be, with 100% of your required course materials made available through our online learning portal.

All of these courses are available to study with StaySharp. Studying with us allows you to gain a highly respected accounting qualification on your own time and from wherever you might be, with 100% of your required course materials made available through our online learning portal.

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Accountancy course comparison

Which accountancy course is right for me?

Typical earning potential
Cost to study
Average course duration
Qualifications needed
Ideal application
£90k p/a
5 years
Relevant degree
Industry or practice
£37k p/a
18 months
None required
Industry or practice
£66k p/a
3 years
None required

How long does it take to become an accountant?

The time it takes each individual to train as an accountant varies depending on the type of training they have chosen - on average, it takes between three and seven years to become a chartered accountant, though this varies between different types of accountants.

We have provided average the completion times for all of the courses that we offer, available on their individual course pages. However, as our courses are designed to be studied at the learner’s own pace, your own completion time will depend on how much time you are able to dedicate to your online studies with StaySharp.

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Is accounting a good career?

There are plenty of benefits to choosing a career in accountancy, including:

  • High earning potential – accountants in high-level roles may earn more than £70k p/a
  • Wide range of job opportunities in various industries
  • Job security – the majority of large organisations require an accountant
  • Plenty of room to progress in your career
  • Universally applicable skills – ideal for those with ambitions to live and work abroad
  • Training is available to learners of all levels with StaySharp

For more information on the flexible courses offered by StaySharp, visit our Tax and Accountancy Courses page.

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What makes us different?

Save time. Save money. Study with StaySharp.

Price of ACCA Course
Approved provider status
Access to 100% of the syllabus
Structured learning plans
Feedback on personalised areas of progress
Interactive and engaging online content
Monthly payments with no finance or credit check
Flexibility to stop and start at any point*
Ability to cancel*
Traditional learning providers
From £800
£550 for 12-months access or £60 p/m

*Ability to stop/start or cancel at any point is only available on our monthly subscription payment plan

StaySharp Reviews

What students say about StaySharp courses...

I am only a short time into my CIMA course and I am absolutely loving the tuition. The lectures are very informative and much more than just reading the book. Provided with in depth explanations, and the voices of the tutors are nice and welcoming. You can tell StaySharp hold a true sense of wanting their students to succeed, thank you so much!

Holly Broadbent

CIMA Course

I am thoroughly enjoying the course and love the fact that I can jump in any time I want. The StaySharp learning platform is very easy to navigate and makes it easy to pick up where you left off. I also enjoy that the live sessions are recorded which enables you look back on them, or, if you miss them, you are still able to get all of the information.

Fionnghuala Smith

CIPD Course

Fantastic service at a brilliant price point. Great user-friendly service and designed really intuitively. BPP's material design, study plan and live lectures are easy to learn with and let you go at your own pace - they even have recommended time to spend on each 'step' as you go which makes planning in the run up to exams easy. I have also studied with Kaplan online and would say BPP/StaySharp is superior, there is a lecture for every topic. Couldn't recommend enough, especially at the price point too - rather than paying a lump sum to a study provider, you can almost 'spread the cost' month to month.

Luke Anderson

ACCA Course

Staysharp was the most affordable platform offering a CIPD Level 5 with a monthly plan available for the students. The course is great and I can work it out around my current job role as an HR Officer. The course can be really comprehensive and the fact that live webinars are available it makes it even better. The learning platform is really good, you can access it from the PC and smartphone with loads of interactive slides.

Klaudya-Irina Grecu

CIPD Course

So far I'm impressed with what I have seen. I can dip into the study material across all AAT modules which is exactly what I need. I am aiming for level 4 but sometimes I need to get back to basic stuff to refresh my memory. Other providers want you to follow their set menu. A la carte is best.

E Wright

AAT Course

Just what I was looking for... What stands out most with Stay Sharp is the high quality content, easy to follow and exam focused study sessions with achievement ladders to help and revise your progress through your journey towards each paper and access to the entire gamut of 14 ACCA papers at a competitive and reasonable monthly cost from one of the most reputable learning providers - BPP. Best online study site at a reasonable price.....everything needed to study for ACCA at one price and being available on demand.


ACCA Course

Great for self study with online tutor support and value for money. Highly recommend it. Recently I have started my AAT level 2 with StaySharp and happy about my choice. Very supportive tutor’s team!

Chandrakala Shamkumar

AAT Course

I’m happy with the course. I like to self study as I can’t stand going to a lecture class and concentrate but I need a bit of guidance so these short classes help me bridge the gap up... I mainly joined so I can ask academic questions on activities and subjects that I was stuck in and it’s way easier asking a question online... The monthly fee is affordable so that helps

Goushul Hussain

ACCA Course

I have tried a few subscription based AAT learning platforms and found StaySharp to be far superior to others. I found that there was a lot of content for the module that I studied and the videos are very informative. There are also helpful debrief videos of each chapter to ensure you understand the important focuses of each chapter. The site is easy to navigate and the subscription is reasonably priced.


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