What the job involves
As an accounting technician, your main responsibility will be to prepare the financial information which professional accountants or business managers will use to make decisions. You could be employed in any sort of business, ranging from commerce to industry, and may be the only financially-trained employee in a small enterprise. Daily work activities might include processing and paying invoices, sorting out tax returns, handling the company’s expenses and payroll systems and dealing with basic book-keeping.
Qualified accounting technicians (such as those who are qualified with the Association of Accounting Technicians – AAT) may also choose to start up their own business. As an AAT Member in Practice you can offer accountancy, taxation or related consultancy services to the public in the UK or Channel Islands.
Most employers will look for someone who is confident and competent at working with numbers and has good computer skills. The ability to meet deadlines and a high level of written and spoken communication skills are also desirable. Problem solving and analytical skills are important for an accounting technician, likewise accuracy and attention to detail. Employers will also appreciate honesty and discretion and expect excellent organisational skills.
Accounting technicians are usually office-based with standard weekday working hours (30-40 hours per week). Part-time jobs and temporary positions are also often available. You could be required to travel in order to visit clients’ businesses if you are helping accountants with audits.
Qualifications and training
Accounting qualifications from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), such as those offered by the CAW Business School, are desirable for developing business and finance skills. These are often carried out as part-time study. On successful completion of the AAT Accounting Qualification (comprising levels 2, 3 and 4) you will be able to apply for AAT professional membership.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) also offers a similar Qualification, of which all 3 levels must be passed in order to qualify. There are also opportunities to become an accounting technician through apprenticeship schemes.
What qualifications do I need to start training as an Accounting Technician?
Basic English and Maths skills are required for most accounting courses.
Getting into the profession
Previous experience of working in an office and/or finance department is often useful. Employers will also be impressed by computing experience, especially in using spreadsheets.
Salary and benefits
Starting salaries usually lie between £15,000 and £22,000 a year. Once you have qualified and gained experience, however, this can increase to £30,000 or more.
As you gain experience, it is possible to take on supervisory responsibilities and experience handling more complex tasks such as preparing financial reports. You are likely to develop specific skills related to the area of finance you work in. It is common for accounting technicians to start up their own businesses and become self-employed, providing a range of accounting services.
Often accounting technician qualifications, such as those awarded by the AAT, will give exemptions to those who are looking to continue their studies to become a chartered accountant.