The Student Room Group

Becoming an accountant in my mid-20s without a degree

So, since I left school in 2017 with fairly modest academic success in A-levels and GCSEs I've basically just messed around for the last few years just working minimum wage jobs during the week and having a few drinks with pals on the weekend, had a great time and been very content.

However, the last few months I've realised it's time to knuckle down a bit and start taking life a bit more seriously. So, I've been looking into doing the AAT course to go into accountancy, I could be wrong but I get the impression that you don't really need to take a degree to go into it and I'd be happy to do it myself and study from home. I'm still living at home with my parents and I think they'd be fairly sympathetic to me actually getting a career for obvious reason. So, my plan would kind of consist of doing three days a week at my current menial job and studying for the AAT qualification in my spare time. Also, part of my plan would consist of volunteering to do one day a week's unpaid slave labour at a local accounting firm for the purposes of my CV, even if it's just making coffee or doing the printing or whatever, at least it'd look good on my CV, I think anyway.

I do actually have some formal and informal experience of finance and accountancy. In 2014, which I know seems like the dark ages now, I did my year 10 work experience for a local accounting firm. More recently I've been on the online stockbrokerage website, etoro, swing trading stocks and for about six months managed to outperform the S&P500 index, UK100 index and Berkshire Hathaway's publically listed portfolio holdings. I used both technical and, to a lesser extent, fundamental analysis while doing this, also obviously there's an element of a good luck in this.

That's my initial thought process, plan and some of the things I think are in my favor. I feel there are one or two things that count against me. The last few months I've felt really down for one or two various personal reasons, don't get me wrong, I'm not going to do anything drastic but I do feel like I seriously need help with my mental health and I'm considering going to cognitive behavioral therapy on the NHS which is a kind of mental health therapy. I know in an ideal world this shouldn't count against me but I'm aware not all employers are as liberal and easy going as that. I haven't registered yet but I'm toying with the idea, would this negatively affect my career and application process if they found out about it. Secondly, would they look down on me for spending years of my life doing menial jobs and not consider me as a result?

Thanks for taking the time to read this guys, hope everyone's doing well!
Original post by Pyromemenia
So, since I left school in 2017 with fairly modest academic success in A-levels and GCSEs I've basically just messed around for the last few years just working minimum wage jobs during the week and having a few drinks with pals on the weekend, had a great time and been very content.

However, the last few months I've realised it's time to knuckle down a bit and start taking life a bit more seriously. So, I've been looking into doing the AAT course to go into accountancy, I could be wrong but I get the impression that you don't really need to take a degree to go into it and I'd be happy to do it myself and study from home. I'm still living at home with my parents and I think they'd be fairly sympathetic to me actually getting a career for obvious reason. So, my plan would kind of consist of doing three days a week at my current menial job and studying for the AAT qualification in my spare time. Also, part of my plan would consist of volunteering to do one day a week's unpaid slave labour at a local accounting firm for the purposes of my CV, even if it's just making coffee or doing the printing or whatever, at least it'd look good on my CV, I think anyway.

I do actually have some formal and informal experience of finance and accountancy. In 2014, which I know seems like the dark ages now, I did my year 10 work experience for a local accounting firm. More recently I've been on the online stockbrokerage website, etoro, swing trading stocks and for about six months managed to outperform the S&P500 index, UK100 index and Berkshire Hathaway's publically listed portfolio holdings. I used both technical and, to a lesser extent, fundamental analysis while doing this, also obviously there's an element of a good luck in this.

That's my initial thought process, plan and some of the things I think are in my favor. I feel there are one or two things that count against me. The last few months I've felt really down for one or two various personal reasons, don't get me wrong, I'm not going to do anything drastic but I do feel like I seriously need help with my mental health and I'm considering going to cognitive behavioral therapy on the NHS which is a kind of mental health therapy. I know in an ideal world this shouldn't count against me but I'm aware not all employers are as liberal and easy going as that. I haven't registered yet but I'm toying with the idea, would this negatively affect my career and application process if they found out about it. Secondly, would they look down on me for spending years of my life doing menial jobs and not consider me as a result?

Thanks for taking the time to read this guys, hope everyone's doing well!


In terms of accounting roles, I think ajj2000 is the best person to talk to in the TSR forum. However, I can say although you're eligible to get into the industry, things aren't looking great.

So, I've been looking into doing the AAT course to go into accountancy, I could be wrong but I get the impression that you don't really need to take a degree to go into it and I'd be happy to do it myself and study from home.
Nope, you don't need a degree in accounting to get into accounting. The end goal is to get the appropriate professional accounting qualification for the role that you want e.g. ACA, CIMA, ACCA, CIPFA, ICAS, CAI, AIA, etc. You can start these qualifications with passes at A Level and GCSEs (low barriers of entry into the qualifications). The more difficult part is getting the qualified experience from the people you need to get the experience from (jobs are competitive, and people are not lenient in letting you get the experience) - the accountant needs to be qualified under the body that you want to study for.
Personally, I would skip the AAT since you already have A Levels. However, if you want to work from the bottom up and go through basic bookkeeping, then you can (some accountants may feel less "threatened" if you're going for a lower qualification).

So, my plan would kind of consist of doing three days a week at my current menial job and studying for the AAT qualification in my spare time.
This is doable if you want to do it. AAT courses at college or online won't break the bank (e.g. £1000) and you can do this generally around your part time work.

Also, part of my plan would consist of volunteering to do one day a week's unpaid slave labour at a local accounting firm for the purposes of my CV, even if it's just making coffee or doing the printing or whatever, at least it'd look good on my CV, I think anyway.
Any relevant experience counts, and is going to set you apart from the competition.

In 2014, which I know seems like the dark ages now, I did my year 10 work experience for a local accounting firm
Won't likely mean much. 2 weeks' experience doing something barely related to accounting won't show that you have the relevant skills for a role, where you can be left and do the job independently and do everything right and quickly, and it won't show that the accounting firm would want to hire you.

More recently I've been on the online stockbrokerage website, etoro, swing trading stocks and for about six months managed to outperform the S&P500 index, UK100 index and Berkshire Hathaway's publically listed portfolio holdings. I used both technical and, to a lesser extent, fundamental analysis while doing this, also obviously there's an element of a good luck in this.
This has zero relevance to accounting. It might have some tiny relevance to investment management, trading, or hedge funds, but it won't mean much since it's not through an actual role. If you want to stand out from competing applicants for such a role, it might be an interest talking point.

The last few months I've felt really down for one or two various personal reasons, don't get me wrong, I'm not going to do anything drastic but I do feel like I seriously need help with my mental health and I'm considering going to cognitive behavioral therapy on the NHS which is a kind of mental health therapy.
Sorry to hear.
CBT is a way of conditioning you to think in a different way.

I know in an ideal world this shouldn't count against me but I'm aware not all employers are as liberal and easy going as that.
Although I can't speak for all employers, I don't think this isn't something that you need to mention unless they specifically require you to know for legal reasons (I am not a legal professional and I am not qualified to offer such advice, so check with a professional well versed in employment law).

Secondly, would they look down on me for spending years of my life doing menial jobs and not consider me as a result?
Very likely, so yes they will ask questions about why you haven't done anything related to accounting for a long time. Accounting is a cut-throat industry, so you're expected to be passionate and think of it as a dream job that you would never want to leave - it's kind of like a marriage proposal on the first date sort of deal (even though they would be loading you with the menial work for accounting as a junior accountant). It's a competitive enough industry that there would be a queue of other candidates behind you to replace your application should you not meet their requirements.
Having said that, people with similar circumstances to yourself have managed to secure certain roles in accounting, so it's not a dead end. However, you might need to go the extra mile to make up for the shortfall.

You should also get a second opinion on the above from an accountant who works in the industry.
(edited 8 months ago)

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