If you are considering studying the AAT qualification, congratulations; you’ve taken the first step towards an exciting, rewarding, and secure career in the world of finance. Before you decide whether or not AAT is right for you, however, or decide which level of AAT qualification you wish to achieve, it’s important to attain a thorough understanding of the career benefits AAT qualification can provide.
The AAT Path: Will I Be An Accountant or a Bookkeeper?
Prospective accounting students are often confused by the many different terms used to describe the various types of financial professionals; as such, the first thing many students wonder when reviewing the AAT curriculum is, ‘Will I be an Accountant or a Bookkeeper if I take all three levels of AAT?’
The answer to this question lies somewhere in the middle; completing all three levels of AAT will not make you a certified accountant (for that you will need to attain the ACCA qualification as well), but it will make you an ‘Accounting Technician’. If you wish to pursue bookkeeping, you can study the AAT or IAB (International Association of Bookkeeping) courses, and this will qualify you for roles such as a Self employed Bookkeeper.
It’s important to understand that for some individuals, becoming an Accounting Technician rather than an Accountant may be preferable; it all depends on what you’re looking for in terms of on-the-job duties, pay, and other benefits. For those who particularly enjoy working with financial data, the job of Accounting Technician can be extremely rewarding.
The Benefits Of Studying AAT: Why Choose To Become An Accounting Technician?
Accounting Technicians perform many of the same duties and have many of the same responsibilities as accountants do; however, there are a few key differences. In addition to performing bookkeeping duties (i.e. handling data related to daily transactions), an accounting technician will also be expected to manage more advanced data related to the company’s accounts, such as recording loan payment interest, calculating the depreciation of assets, and recording uncollectible accounts. Additionally, accounting technicians are expected to help to prepare financial reports and explain the data contained in these reports to the business owner. However, unlike an accountant, an Accounting Technician will not be expected to give high-level financial advice or conduct audits (detailed examinations of a company’s financial affairs).
In laymans terms, this means that if you enjoy working primarily with data rather than taking on a strategic role, you will prefer the position of Accounting Technician. Other benefits of studying AAT include:
- Easy entry. Anyone can take AAT courses; there are no prerequisites. As long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can achieve a respected professional qualification.
- Excellent job security. Accounting technicians are in high demand today, both because of ever-tightening financial regulations and because many institutions (schools, medical centres, and so on) are switching over to managing their own finances. In an era when many career paths are fraught with uncertainty, the reliable growth of the financial sector is alluring to many students (and rightly so).
- A less stressful career path. Certified accountants are often responsible for extremely high-level decision-making—a stressful position to be in. Accounting Technicians, on the other hand, are more concerned with the day-to-day management of a company’s finances; they work with hard data more than they are involved with planning and forecasting (though some experienced Accounting Technicians may help to plan company budgets).
- Excellent financial prospects. If you complete all three levels of AAT, you can expect to gain a salary of over £37,000 annually (as compared with the £17,000 typically earned by those who have only a first-level or foundation qualification).
- A flexible career. As an Accounting Technician, you can be hired as a full-time employee or you can choose to work from home as a self-employed freelancer, setting your own hours and deciding your own rate of pay—it’s up to you.
As a final note, it’s important to remember that if you complete your AAT qualification and find you have a thirst to know more about accounting, AAT courses provide an excellent foundation for pursuing higher education. If you complete an AAT qualification, you can choose to go on to university or take the ACCA qualification (and you are likely to be exempt from the first 3 papers) in order to become a Certified Accountant—there’s no limit to what you can achieve with AAT as your springboard.