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How To Progress In Your Accounting Career
If you feel like you’ve reached a dead end in your accounting career, or things are moving at a snail’s pace, it’s time to do something about it.
In her webinar, AAT qualified accounting tutor Patricia Barlow looks at the best approaches to accounting career advancement. Here are some of the things she explores.
Gaining relevant work experience
One of the key things employers look for in potential candidates is experience in areas relevant to the role. This means you should be seeking exposure to the kinds of tasks you would perform in your ideal job.
If you’re looking to progress from a junior role into something with more responsibility, you should take on tasks outside of data processing. For example, get involved with reconciliations, and with identifying and reporting on discrepancies.
If you’re trying to take the leap from financial to management accounting, look for responsibilities with analytical and strategic focuses. Participate in product costing activities where possible, as this is a fundamental part of most management accounting roles.
If you’re wondering where you can get this experience, think about the scope for extra responsibilities within your current workplace. Are there senior colleagues who could introduce you to new tasks? They might be thankful for the offer of an extra pair of hands.
You can also look for part-time and casual voluntary roles. Charities are frequently on the lookout for help in their accounting departments, and you can find opportunities on sites like do-it.org.
Achieving recognised qualifications
Practical experience should be supported by appropriate qualifications, so that you can demonstrate you have the right theoretical knowledge to be effective in your role. Being registered with recognised awarding bodies also ensures you stay up-to-date with changing best practice.
You should choose qualifications based on where you are now, but also based on where your aspirations for the future lie.
The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification is particularly popular with those in relatively junior roles. It takes you from the fundamentals right up to advanced accounting concepts, providing you with the knowledge needed to enter a more senior role.
Those whose ambitions lie in management accounting normally become qualified with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the world’s largest professional body of management accountants. Again, you can start with the basics, but if you hold existing accounting qualifications, you could get exemptions at a higher level.
Building on key skills
The final piece of the puzzle represents the skills you should develop for success in any accounting role.
First up is communication. Perhaps underestimated, this is integral to performing well. As well as being able to communicate effectively with colleagues, you should be able to write and speak to clients in a way that is easily understandable to those with little financial knowledge.
A skill that is more commonly associated with accounting professionals is analytical flair. Whether you’re an assistant or a director, you will need to work methodically, scrutinising data in detail, and spotting when things don’t add up.
Whatever stage of your career you’re at, it’s a good idea to devote time to professional development, including building on these key skills.
Patricia Barlow explores this topic in more detail in her webinar on the 16th June. If you miss this date, you can simply watch the recording afterwards.Find out more and sign up here.
By Jannike Ohsten
• Babington Group