Accounting careers for school leavers: What you need to know 

Looking for a reliable career path? 

With most accounting qualifications allowing you to start studying with no previous experience or certifications, it could be the perfect career choice for school leavers who don’t want to go to university.  

Not sure where to begin? We spoke to Kaplan Financial, one of the UK’s leading providers of accountancy qualifications, to find out what options are available for school leavers:


What accounting jobs are there? 

Almost every company in every industry relies on accountants to manage their finances. 

This means you can find an accounting job in a number of places, including accountancy firms, building societies, high street and investment banks, management consultancies, public sector employers, and insurance companies. 

Here’s an example of the typical career path you might take if you’ve just left school: 


Accounting Technician

Could earn an average of £20,000 a year.

What they do

Accounting Technicians assist Accountants by providing all the financial information they need to prepare a company’s accounts. They may also perform some basic bookkeeping duties, as well as process payments and invoices, and complete tax returns.

Entry requirements 

 There are no specific entry requirements for this role, but good GCSEs and A Levels, and/or relevant professional qualifications (such as AAT) will help you stand out. You could also get this job through an advanced or higher apprenticeship. 

Financial Accountant/Management Accountant

Could earn an average of £40,000 to £50,000 a year.

What they do

A Financial Accountant is responsible for preparing and analysing a company’s accounts, which are then used to give an overview of the organisation’s overall financial status. Whilst Management Accountants have similar duties to Financial Accountants, they generally head up the accountancy team as a whole, work for one company instead of for multiple clients, and take overall responsibility for a company’s finances.

Entry requirements 

The AAT qualification is the minimum requirement for an Accountant, which consists of three levels. You can also get this job through a professional degree apprenticeship.

Chartered Accountant

Could earn an average of £60,000 a year.

What they do

Chartered Accountancy is a lucrative field of work, made up of people who have undertaken a specified level of specialist training. This level of experience makes members qualified to do a range of expert tasks and activities, including providing financial advice and audit accounts for their clients, or employer, managing budgets, tax planning and preparing annual accounts.

Entry requirements 

You’ll need to study CIMA, ACA, or ACCA to achieve chartered accountancy status. 

View all accounting courses

What job can I get with AAT? 


What skills do employers look for? 

Because the information you’ll be dealing with is related to a company’s finances (and therefore extremely important), you’ll need a great attention to detail along with excellent critical thinking skills. 

As an accountant, discrepancies, errors, and inaccuracies are something you’ll encounter frequently – and it’s up to you to solve problems and think strategically at the same time.  

What’s more, interpersonal skills are key. Not only will you be working with numbers and data, you’ll need to be able to translate complex financial information into simple terms that everyone can interpret. 

Economic, political, and social movements could also affect your role in many ways – making business acumen and commercial awareness vital too. By keeping up-to-date with developments in your industry, you’ll be able to plan ahead and negate potential risks accordingly. 

Finally, you’ll need good multitasking abilities, an enthusiasm for what you do, and resilience. 

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What qualifications do you need to get started?

AAT (The Association of Accounting Technicians) is the UK’s leading professional membership body for accounting staff, and has over 150,000 members in over 90 countries worldwide.

AAT qualifications are the industry standard for accountants. They’re also usually a minimum requirement for anyone looking to become fully qualified in the field. You can start studying from Foundation level (perfect for people who are new to accountancy), right through to Advanced and Professional levels. 

If you have the equivalent of 2 A-Levels or 3 GCSEs you can alternatively study ACCA Knowledge, before progressing onto the full ACCA qualification.

Which AAT qualification is right for me? 

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Tips to start a career in accounting

Interested in becoming an Accountant? Here are a few tips to help you get started: 

  • Decide what your ultimate goal is. Should you pursue a role in management or financial accounting? Are you interested in auditing, tax, forensics, or environmental accounting? Do you want to stay in traditional accountancy, or progress to a chartered accountancy role? 
  • Research the different industries you could work in. Almost every organisation needs accounting professionals to manage their money and track their finances, from business and marketing right through to construction and healthcare 
  • Find out what learning options are available to help you get certified, and select an accounting course that fits your budget and suits your schedule
  • Create a CV and cover letter that stands out, demonstrates your transferable skills, and is tailored it to every accountancy role you apply for

Remember: No matter what your circumstances may be, there are always opportunities to progress into accounting.


Why study with Kaplan Financial?

Whatever study method or course you’re interested in, Kaplan have something for you.

Not only are they one of the UKs most respected course providers, offering industry leading training in accounting and business expertise, they also provide a wide range of different types of learning – including classroom, distance and online learning.

Other benefits of studying with Kaplan Financial include:

  • Exceptional pass rates across all of their courses
  • Interest free payment plans
  • Prices inclusive of exams and study materials
  • Industry leading support – whether online, or in class
  • World recognised qualifications, and endorsements from some of the UKs biggest businesses (including all of the top 10 accounting firms)



Find out more



Ready to start studying? Find an AAT course with Kaplan today.



Kaplan Financial are the UK leader in financial, accountancy and business training. Their mission is to help individuals achieve their goals and realise their potential.



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