If you don’t want to go to university, accountancy apprenticeships and school leaver schemes are a great way to get your career in accountancy, finance and business off the ground. They help kick-start your career in the accountancy and finance profession by giving you valuable experience in the workplace, alongside a qualification that ensures you’ll develop the skills you need to succeed.

School leaver schemes

A growing number of organisations offer the opportunity to train for the ACA qualification and become an accountant straight after A levels (or equivalent). School leaver schemes vary, but typically take between three and five years to complete. You complete your training on-the-job, meaning you will gain valuable practical experience at the same time as developing your technical knowledge through studying for your qualifications.

Most organisations will ask that you start the process by studying for one of the following first:

ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB)

CFAB is a valuable introduction into a career in finance, accounting and business and will ensure you have all the fundamental knowledge and skills you need. It consists of the same Certificate Level modules as the ACA qualification, meaning you’ll get all the preparation you need before you continue your journey to becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

Higher Apprenticeship in Assurance/Audit

The Higher Apprenticeship in Assurance/Audit will develop your technical understanding of accounting theory while giving you relevant practical experience in the workplace at the same time. You complete the programme with your chosen employer, who will support you throughout the process ensuring you get the experience you need. You will also have the opportunity to work towards the Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB), a professional qualification from ICAEW.

AAT- ACA Fast Track

You can study the AAT’s Diploma in Accounting (Level 1-4) either as a full time qualification at college or as an apprenticeship. The valuable knowledge and experience you gain while studying for the AAT will count towards the ACA qualification if you decide to take the next step. You’ll be able to apply for credit towards some exams and also up to a years’ relevant work experience to be taken into account. This means by following the AAT-ACA Fast Track, you could become a chartered accountant and be on your way to a successful career in business just four years after leaving school!

The application process

Securing a place on any school leaver programme is a competitive process. The recruitment process is similar to graduate routes and usually involves an online application form, numeracy and literacy tests, interviews and an assessment centre.

You will need to show that you’re motivated, mature and ready for a challenge. You’ll need to be happy to work as part of a team and individually, and be able to use your own initiative – in return you’ll get an insight into what an exciting and varied career accountancy, finance and business is.

Visit the ICAEW website to find out more about these programmes.

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