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Some advice on AAT vs CIMA for someone with zero experience watch

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    Hi all,

    I'm looking for some advice on selecting the best training route, I'm currently in a position where I may be able to take up a role as an Assistant Project Accountant, which will come with the training required to progress within the role where I will likely be able to choose my preferred route. I have no finance experience and have looked into what I think are they 4 main qualifications (AAT, ACA, ACCA & CIMA) and given I want to progress through Project Accounting, CIMA seems the most attractive (please correct me if you think i'm wrong here).

    My concern is that I have never studied beyond school and my lack of a finance background could hold me back and I do not know of the best route to study. I have read that it's possible to jump straight into CIMA with no history, but my worry is that as soon as I start I would feel lost and studying AAT first may be more beneficial.

    I would not want to study the entirety of AAT as I want to begin CIMA as soon as possible, so I'm currently wondering whether it would be worth my time studying lvl 2 and/ or lvl 3 of AAT and then progressing into CIMA, but at the same time I do not want to waste my time studying AAT if it wouldn't be of any benefit and I could learn this material within CIMA.

    I'm aware you can get exemptions and this is not something that interests me, I would rather study the route that would make the entire CIMA progress make the most sense and I'm very interested in hearing the opinions of those who have completed CIMA with no finance background, with partial AAT (lvl 2 and/ or lvl 3) and full AAT.

    Many thanks for any advice!
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    (Original post by M ahh tt)
    Hi all,

    I'm looking for some advice on selecting the best training route, I'm currently in a position where I may be able to take up a role as an Assistant Project Accountant, which will come with the training required to progress within the role where I will likely be able to choose my preferred route. I have no finance experience and have looked into what I think are they 4 main qualifications (AAT, ACA, ACCA & CIMA) and given I want to progress through Project Accounting, CIMA seems the most attractive (please correct me if you think i'm wrong here).

    My concern is that I have never studied beyond school and my lack of a finance background could hold me back and I do not know of the best route to study. I have read that it's possible to jump straight into CIMA with no history, but my worry is that as soon as I start I would feel lost and studying AAT first may be more beneficial.

    I would not want to study the entirety of AAT as I want to begin CIMA as soon as possible, so I'm currently wondering whether it would be worth my time studying lvl 2 and/ or lvl 3 of AAT and then progressing into CIMA, but at the same time I do not want to waste my time studying AAT if it wouldn't be of any benefit and I could learn this material within CIMA.

    I'm aware you can get exemptions and this is not something that interests me, I would rather study the route that would make the entire CIMA progress make the most sense and I'm very interested in hearing the opinions of those who have completed CIMA with no finance background, with partial AAT (lvl 2 and/ or lvl 3) and full AAT.

    Many thanks for any advice!
    Hey there

    I have done AAT (levels 2, 3, 4) along with CIMA, so I'm in a good position to advise. As you probably know, CIMA is a more senior qualification. AAT grants you excemptions from the CIMA certificate level

    Depending on exactly what this project accountant role is (I've seen lots of accounting jobs with the same name but different work), you may or may not need AAT

    What AAT does, that CIMA doesn't really, is teach you core accounting principles - debits and credits, prepayments and accruals, what purchase orders and invoices are. I qualified with CIMA a year ago and I still see people at my level who can't post a journal... don't know how an accrual works or an invoice lol.

    I see accounting as having 2 routes: technical and commercial.

    If you go entirely commercial (looking at products, sales, etc) you won't NEED the technical skills as much (though it always helps) but you also are unlikely to get the top Finance roles, as these require you know how technical accounting works

    If you go the technical route (accounts preparation, knowledge of complex accounting rules and how to apply them at year end for the audit), you will definitely want to do at least some of AAT first (probably levels 2 and 3 - though level 4 had a lot of carry over to CIMA when I did it). It teaches you accounting from the ground up.

    If your Project Accountant role has things like: accruals, prepayments, journals, statutory accounts, managements accounts - then you'll want to do AAT first. I have a girl working for me who's done ACCA and doesn't understand the basics... CIMA is more a high level look at things - more complex accounts preparation, how to price your products, company strategy. CIMA/ACCA/ACA are seen as higher caliber qualifications and are required for a lot of jobs past a certain level, however I think often you will find you are doing AAT work in a job that requires CIMA lol.

    My suggestion is to do AAT if your project accountant role looks like it has the tasks mentioned above, or if you're patient enough to do both AAT and CIMA and want to have a mix of technical / commercial studies

    Also might be worth speaking to recruiters (Robert Half, Hays, Reed, etc) and seeing what they suggest. I wouldn't recommend doing ONLY AAT, as that excludes you from a lot of roles (rightly or wrongly)

    Good luck!
 
 
 
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