Those wishing to practise accountancy in the UK may want to consider studying for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Associate Chartered Accountant, or ICAEW ACA qualification.
There are a number of routes to becoming a fully qualified accountant in the UK. As well as the ACA, there is the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), a highly regarded option which renders the successful candidates qualified for international accountancy as well as to practise in the UK. The CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) is yet another well-respected accountancy qualification to study for. ACA qualified accountants, however, tend to argue that their body represents the most rigorous testing for accountancy practised in the UK, and that could prove important in your decision-making process.
Once you have come to the decision to study for the ACA, there are some important points to be aware of. The study, examination and workplace training required to achieve the full ACA qualification will take between three and five years. One way to achieve this combination is by working for a firm that offers training schemes for individuals on their finance teams who wish to become ACA qualified accountants.
During that three to five year period, when you will gain your practical experience, there are 15 exams to pass which cover a range of important topics, from accountancy and business finance to professional development and ethics and professionalism.
The 15 exams required to gain the ACA qualification are separated into three levels. Certificate level is the first and comprises six modules which each have a one-and-a-half-hour computer-based assessment-style exam. This level will give you an understanding of the basis of accountancy, finance and business.
Professional level is the next step, where there are another six modules to study. This level builds on the fundamental knowledge and understanding gained from the certificate level, and candidates are tested in six two-and-a-half to three-hour exams which take place four times every year.
Once you have completed all the relevant studying and real work experience required to pass the first two levels, candidates then enter the Advanced level. This final phase required to gain the ACA qualification combines all that has been learnt so far on the course and aims to test candidates’ understanding and strategic and ethical decision-making at a more senior level. The practical real work experience gained over the years of studying the first two levels is likely to prove extremely useful to participants in this final section of ACA studies.
While the exams and assessments must, of course, all be passed, the ACA qualification will not be achieved without 450 days of relevant practical work experience. This requirement is a major reason behind why it takes ACA qualified accountants up to five years to gain the prestigious qualification. It is, however, also a valuable experience and resource for not only passing the exams, but your future career in accountancy, business or finance.
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