A sneak peek into the accounting world: an overview for beginners

Accounting

A sneak peek into the accounting world: An overview for beginners

Posted 15 December

In an uncertain world, you might be thinking about a new career or a career change – one that offers great prospects and high employability. Well, have you thought about accounting?

If you always want to be in demand, becoming an accountant is probably one of the smartest moves you can make. 

Sought after in every sector, accountants will never go out of fashion... okay, let’s face it, they may never have really been in fashion, but they’re quietly laughing to themselves. They know finance is at the heart of every business and they’ll always have their pick of accounting jobs.

Accounting is an accessible career and one with many opportunities for progression and specialising. 

Did you know we’re running introductory accounting courses for free or 90% funded as part of the EU and government Springboard+ initiative? Keep reading for an accounting 101. 

What is accounting? 

Accountancy Europe, a membership organisation that represents one million qualified accountants across 35 countries in Europe, says that accountants “help organisations  prepare their financial and non-financial data to measure performance, including the social impact of their economic activities.”

Accountants work across every sector and for businesses of all sizes. But what are some of the key kinds of accounting? According to Accountancy Europe, accountants tend to fall into three main categories:

Accountants: They help individuals, businesses, organisations and governments make decisions based on data. In doing this, they help businesses and others manage risk, improve their performance and encourage responsible management.

Auditors: They help organisations and businesses by checking the accuracy of financial records and providing an independent professional opinion.

Advisors: They provide advisory services to individuals, companies and organisations on everything from tax to social responsibility.

What are the main kinds of accounting?

Some of the main types of accounting services and careers are listed below:

Financial accounting: Financial accountants are concerned with the preparation of financial information for external reporting.

Public accounting: Public accountants assist clients to assure the accuracy of their financial statements.

Management accounting: Management accountants prepare financial statements and information for internal operational management.

Tax accounting: These accountants undertake tax planning to minimise tax obligations while complying to all laws and regulations.

Auditing: Auditors assess systems, processes and controls within an organisation to ensure accurate accounting and reporting.

Governmental accounting: A specialist branch of accounting, this involves setting up and managing funds used to pay for various government services.  

You can read more definitions of the different types of accounting careers here

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ) accredited programmes at GBS

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ) accredited programmes at GBS

How to get into accounting with no experience

An accounts assistant typically gets paid in the region of €18,500-25,000, a junior auditor earns around €31,000-40,000, and a newly qualified auditor enjoys a salary range of €27,500-52,000, according to the 2020 Hays Salary Survey for accounting jobs and salaries, reported by UK specialist recruitment agency Accountancy Careers. The pay scale in Ireland is quite similar. 

As you can see, entry accounting roles are well paid, but if you have no experience, what are the minimal qualifications and skills needed for an accounting job?

For an entry level role, you’ll be expected to have good numeracy skills, which you can demonstrate with a good academic record in mathematics, and be able to think analytically. To get started understanding the world of accounting and basic terms and concepts, learn what you can from free online sources and courses.

On accounting courses for beginners you can expect to learn about the different types of accounting concepts. Just search for an introduction to accounting online course, or check out our free beginner’s programme – details below.

Once you have a grasp of the basics, you may wish to start specialising in a particular area with, for example, an accounting technician course or a financial accounting course, or you can start applying to entry-level positions, apprenticeships or internships right away.

Positions that don’t usually require different types of qualifications or accounting degrees but can be a great foot in the door include accounts assistants, bookkeepers and accounts clerks. 

Do you need a degree or professional qualifications to become an accountant?

To become an accountant, you need to have a professional qualification such as the AAT  (Association of Accounting Technicians), and to become a chartered accountant you’ll need to study for further qualifications, such as those offered by CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) qualifications, ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), or the ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant) qualification offered by ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales).

Generally speaking, the more qualifications you hold, the higher your earning potential.

University degrees aren’t necessary, and not every accountant follows the traditional route of A-levels, degree, qualification. It’s possible to become a qualified accountant by working your way up from an entry-level position, gaining experience and studying for professional qualifications. 

If you’re good with numbers and want to become an accountant, you can do it too. There are lots of excellent online accounting courses here in Ireland as well as all around the world, and course prices are far from prohibitive. 

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ) accredited programmes

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ) accredited programmes

Getting your first accounting qualification

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in accounting, you can get started for free by taking one of our Springboard+ introductory accounting courses for beginners here on the beautiful west coast of Ireland. Find more details here.

Accredited by Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI), Springboard+ courses are co-funded by the Irish government and the European Social Fund. The courses cover levels 6, 7 and 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). They’re available to anyone from the EU living or working in Ireland.

  • Level 6 courses are free to everyone, regardless of whether they’re currently employed.
  • Level 7 and 8 courses are free to those who are currently unemployed, while if you already have a job, you need only contribute 10% of the course fee.

These courses offer a lot of flexibility and are designed to make it easy for people to fit them in around the rest of their busy lives. You can study part-time, in the evenings, and each course lasts just one semester.

If you’d like to find out more, have a look at our full overview of Springboard+ courses.

Sources

Accountancy Europe

Accounting Tools

Accountancy Careers

How to get accounting jobs without any work experience, by Chomwa Shikati (Jan, 2018)

Prospects.ac.uk

IFAC

AAT

CIMA

ACCA

ICAEW