Accounting technicians keep accurate financial accounts for all types of business. Most accounting technicians also help qualified accountants by preparing and analysing financial information.
Typical duties include:
- processing and paying invoices
- recording receipts and payments
- preparing and checking ledger balances and other monthly and yearly accounts
- completing and submitting tax returns
- monitoring company expenses
- using computerised accounting systems.
Experienced accounting technicians often take on more complex tasks and management responsibilities, such as:
- drafting financial reports
- planning and budget control
- assisting accountants with audits.
In larger companies, accounting technicians usually work as part of an accounts team. In a small business, the accounting technician may be the only person trained to deal with finance matters like wages and invoices.
Hours and Environment
Most accounting technicians work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They may need to work extra hours at busy times. Flexi-time, part-time work and job sharing are widely available. Temporary work is often available.
Accounting technicians are usually office-based, but may sometimes visit clients’ businesses with an accountant when helping with audits.
Skills and Interests
To be an accounting technician you should:
- be comfortable working with numbers
- have good spoken and written communication skills
- be interested in business and finance
- be able to plan and organise your own workload
- be able to solve problems and analyse data
- work accurately and pay attention to detail
- be able to work to strict deadlines
- be honest, discreet and trustworthy.
There are no set entry qualifications for becoming an accounting technician, but you will need to feel confident with maths. Some employers may prefer you to have GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) including English and maths.
You will find it helpful to have previous experience of office work. Computer experience is also useful, particularly in using spreadsheet and database packages like Microsoft Excel and Access.
You could start as an accounts clerk doing basic duties, and take work-based training or a part-time college course to qualify as a technician with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). See the Training section below for more details.
You may be able to miss out some parts of accounting technician training if you already have one of the following:
- A level/H grade in Accounting
- previous relevant work experience in accounting, or
- an entry-level bookkeeping or accounting qualification (see the Accounts Clerk profile).
You may be able to get into this job through an apprenticeship scheme. Funding for apprenticeships is available for 16-24 year olds and some over-25s. To find out more, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk. For information about apprenticeships in other parts of the UK, see Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
You can qualify as an accounting technician with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) or the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).
Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
If you are employed in accounting, you can take the AAT Accounting Qualification through the work-based NVQ/SVQ route, which has three stages:
- NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Accounting (Foundation)
- NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Accounting (Intermediate)
- NVQ/SVQ Level 4 in Accounting (Technician).
If you do not yet work in accounting, you can choose the Diploma pathway to the AAT Accounting Qualification. The Diploma also has three stages:
- Certificate (Foundation)
- Advanced Certificate (Intermediate)
- Diploma (Technician).
You will be assessed for the Diploma by exams and simulated skills tests, instead of providing practical evidence from the workplace.
You can study for the AAT Accounting Qualification full- or part-time at colleges or training centres, or in the workplace.
For full membership of the AAT, you must pass all three stages of the qualification, and have at least a year’s approved work experience. You can find more details on the AAT’s website.
Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA)
The ACCA Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Scheme has three stages:
- CAT Introductory Level
- CAT Intermediate Level
- CAT Advanced Level.
To qualify under the CAT Scheme, you must pass exams and also keep a training record of at least one year’s practical accounting experience. You can study full- or part-time at colleges and training centres, by distance learning or online. Please see the ACCA’s website for full details.
Once you are fully-qualified with AAT or ACCA, you could continue to study to become an accountant. Your accounting technician qualifications mean that you can usually bypass the first stage of professional exams. For example, you will usually start with Part 2 of the ACCA’s Chartered Certified Accountant Scheme, instead of Part 1. See the Private Practice Accountant profile for more information.
As an accounting technician you could work for all types of organisation, including commercial companies, local and central government, public services and accountancy firms. Work is available all over the UK.
Jobs may be advertised in the local press, Jobcentre Plus, and by mainstream and specialist financial recruitment agencies.
With experience, you could move into management or become self-employed and work on accounts for a number of small business clients. You could also choose to study further and become a qualified accountant.
AAT and ACCA qualifications are recognised across the world, so work abroad is also an option.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Accounting technicians at foundation and intermediate levels may earn £14,000 to £18,000 a year.
Fully qualified accounting technicians can earn £18,000 to £25,000 a year.
Self-employed accounting technicians or those with management responsibilities can earn much more.
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