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How to choose the Best Accountancy Qualification

How to choose the Best Accountancy Qualification

You may assume that the only way to obtain the accountancy qualification of your dreams is to toil away at university, spending all of your time studying and amassing student loan debt. Still, we're here to inform you that many more flexible, inexpensive options are available!

While academic degrees are a terrific accomplishment, the university is not for everyone, especially if you work full-time, have a family, or don't have the required grades for admission.

Professional accounting degrees are significantly more accessible, frequently with minimal prerequisites and the ability to study online, part-time, and at your speed.

Because a fast web search for accounting courses would overwhelm you, Future Connect has detailed the finest accountancy certifications below so you can get started on your financial career right now!

Types of accountancy qualification

AAT qualification

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) certifications are a great place to start if you're new to accounting. They're well-known worldwide, are extremely practical, and teach you the real-world skills you'll need to succeed in finance.

You'll be able to pick between three accountancy degrees based on your current level of knowledge and expertise, including:

  1. Certificate of Completion (Level 2)
  2. Master's Degree (Level 3)
  3. Professional Certificate (Level 4)

AAT also offers five shorter courses for prospective bookkeepers and a Foundation Diploma in Accounting and Business for students aged between 16 to 19.

These courses can be taken in person (as long as there are no pandemic limitations) or online (which is very beneficial if you want to fit your studies around your schedule).

Accounting Foundation Certificate (AAT level 2)

The vast majority of finance students begin their studies with Foundations. There are no official admission criteria other than being over 19, and it's the finest accountancy certificate if you're starting and want to expand on and formalise your abilities.

This certification will provide you with a firm foundation in essential areas such as bookkeeping, costing factors, and accounting software. After completing this AAT accounting course, you will be prepared for entry-level accounting positions such as Accounts Administrator, Accounts Assistant, or Accounts Payable Clerk.

Accounting Advanced Diploma (AAT level 3)

If you have practical accounting experience and a strong understanding of double-entry bookkeeping, the Advanced Diploma at Level 3 might help you expand your knowledge and expertise. This qualification delves into more advanced accounting practises, allowing you to master advanced bookkeeping, final accounts and learn more about accountant ethics.

After earning this AAT accountancy certification, you can work as a Credit Controller, Payroll Supervisor, or Assistant Accountant in several mid-level accounting positions. You'll also be a fully qualified bookkeeper who may apply for AAT associate bookkeeping membership, an honour that recognises your skills and allows you to add the initials AATQB to your name for further credibility.

Accounting Professional Diploma (AAT level 4)

It is the finest accountancy certificate to get you there if you've previously mastered the fundamentals, aced the advanced content, and are now eager to immerse yourself in studying for your dream job in a senior post.

You'll get down to the nitty-gritty of creating financial statements, managing budgets, and analysing financial performance during your studies, trying to become an industry master. Once you've completed the Professional Diploma and gained the appropriate professional experience, you can apply to become an AAT Full Member or Fellow Member. You'll also be allowed to call yourself an AAT Accountant, and you'll be able to put the initials MAAT or FMAAT after your name.

After AAT accounting qualification

  1. Once you've earned your AAT certification, you may go on to the next step. After finishing your Professional Diploma and being fully AAT-qualified, you can choose from a variety of options, such as:
  2. You can open your practice and work for yourself. When you're completely qualified, you can operate as a self-employed accountant with the flexibility to choose your customers.
  3. Accounting companies and in-house accounting departments are good places to look for work. Senior Finance Officer, Commercial Analyst, Indirect Tax Manager, Cost Accountant, and VAT Accountant are some of the roles AAT Accountants often work.
  4. These are only a few of the employment prospects available to you as an AAT Accountant, so don't be sad if none of them appeals to you. There are several intriguing employment options available to you!
  5. To become a Chartered Accountant, you might enrol in a fast-track programme.
  6. All major UK Chartered organisations offer AAT graduates a fast-track path to become Chartered; thus, learning AAT can be a faster way to become Chartered than going to university.

Accounting Qualifications as a Chartered Accountant

People sometimes believe that becoming a Chartered Accountant necessitates a university degree, although most Chartered bodies require simply high school diplomas to begin learning directly. Here are some of the greatest accountancy certifications available in the United Kingdom:


ACCA is one of the most prominent Chartered Accountancy organisations globally, with more than 227,000 members and 544,000 students worldwide. You may study their courses online or in classrooms, part-time or full-time.

If you're beginning from the ground up:

Two A-Levels and three GCSEs (or equivalent) in five different areas, including English and Maths, are required for admission.

If you have an AAT accountancy certification:

The qualification generally comprises of 9 papers. However, you can skip the first three for free if you've completed up to and including the Professional Diploma. It provides you with a basic start and reduces your time to study. Furthermore, any job experience you obtain while looking for your AAT can be applied toward the three years of experience required to become an ACCA member.


CIMA credentials are more focused on management accounting than ACCA qualifications. They're great if you wish to work in management jobs inside large corporations and have a solid understanding of business and finance. You have the option of studying in person, online, or a combination of both.

If you're beginning from the ground up:

The CIMA qualification in Business Accounting is a good place to start. There are no official criteria for admission.

If you have an AAT accounting course:

You are excused from the CIMA Certificate and can begin the CIMA Professional Qualification if you have completed the AAT Professional Diploma. You must start with the CIMA Certificate even if you have passed AAT Foundation or Advanced.


CIPFA accountants work in public finance, handling governments and other public-sector organisations.

If you're beginning from the ground up:

To be eligible for CIPFA, you must have at least one of the following items.

There are three GCSEs (A–C) and two A-Levels (A–C) or equivalent, with Maths and English at either level.

National credentials similar to BTEC or SCOTVEC

Level 3 NVQ/GNVQ or Scottish equivalent

Three years of relevant job experience and the endorsement of your employer (21+ only)

If you have an AAT accountancy certification:

As an AAT member, you'll be studying for their Professional Accountancy Qualification and will be able to take advantage of a variety of wonderful perks. You'll also be eligible for free exemptions from three of their test papers; but, because their exams are more comprehensive than the ACCA's, you'll still have to sit nine papers.


With 150,000 chartered members and offices throughout Europe and Asia, the ICAEW is well-known worldwide. The ACA (not to be confused with the ACCA!) is their certification.

If you're beginning from the ground up:

With two A levels (grades A*-E) and three GCSE passes (grades A-C/grades 9-4) or equivalent, you can begin studying the ACA. (you may find A complete list of approved credentials)

You can start looking for the ICAEW Certificate if you don't satisfy these criteria.

If you have an AAT accounting course:

They provide an AAT-ACA Fast Track programme that allows you to apply for test credits for particular courses using your AAT qualification. You could request additional test credits if you completed specified optional courses throughout your AAT study, just as CIPFA. If you worked during your education, you could ask for a decrease in practical work experience necessary to pass the ACA.

Which accountancy certification is the most basic?

Students must complete 14 tests to earn the ACCA designation. The cumulative average pass rate was 73.1 per cent, according to Foundation findings from December 2020[10]. The aggregate average for the Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills examinations was 59.44 per cent. And the overall Strategic rate was 40.83 per cent.

The CIMA Certificate consists of four objective tests, but the Professional Qualification consists of twelve (accurate tests and case studies). The Certificate level has an overall average pass rate of 66.75 per cent across the four disciplines, according to November 2020[11] statistics. The overall average for the Professional qualification was 67 per cent across all tests. Overall, Operational pass rates were 53 per cent, Management was 74 per cent, and Strategic was 69 per cent in the Case Study.

According to the AAT's national UK statistics from June 2019[12], 51% of students taking the Foundation Certificate received a Distinction, while 44% received Merit. Distinctions were awarded to 22% of Advanced Diploma students, while Merits were awarded to 54%. On the Professional Diploma, 2% received a Distinction, 45 per cent received a Merit, and 53 per cent received a pass.


Future Connect hopes this detailed guide has helped you understand the accounting qualifications available. Nevertheless, if you're still undecided, keep in mind that the essential factor to consider is how studying will fit into your life depending on your specific job objectives and desires.


Q.1: Which accounting certification is the most difficult?

The CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountant) is a popular professional certification, but it is also challenging.

Q.2: What does an ACCA pass mark entail?

Keep in mind that the passing mark of ACCA is 50%.

Q.3: Is ACCA a great degree?

The reality is that ACCA offers fantastic work chances in India and overseas. It signifies that many organisations in the United Kingdom desire to recruit people with global talents and applicability.