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How to Become a Fully Qualified Accountant Online

There’s a common misconception that becoming a qualified accountant is incredibly challenging, and while it’s true that achieving this goal requires a significant level of effort and time management, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t necessarily have to be so daunting.  

In fact, you might be surprised to learn that you can become a fully qualified accountant online, completely on your own terms and at your own pace, making it simple to jump start or advance your finance career from the comfort of your own home. 

So, if you’ve recently set your sights on becoming a professional accountant, then we have the information that you need to turn that vision into a reality – entirely online.

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Accountant vs. Chartered Accountant

Becoming a fully qualified accountant means different things to different people depending on your career goals.

On one hand, becoming a fully qualified accountant for some means gaining a comprehensive understanding of accounting and finance and formalising that knowledge with a degree or number of professional qualifications, setting you up for jobs such as:

  • Accounts Administrator
  • Accounts Payable Clerk
  • Assistant Accountant
  • Accounts Payable and Expenses Supervisor

On the other hand, if you have ambitions to take your career to the next level, becoming a Chartered Accountant takes years of intensive study and training - typically up to five years - and you will be required to pass some of the most demanding examinations in the finance industry.

Chartered Accountants will also typically have a few years of practical experience after working within an accounting firm and will also be a member of a professional accounting organisation.

As a Chartered Accountant, you can find settle in number senior roles in corporate finance, audit and insurance, forensic accounting, insolvency, and more, such as:

  • Senior Finance Officer
  • Commercial Analyst
  • Fixed Asset Accountant
  • Senior Fund Accountant

It should be noted, however, that you don’t have to choose between one or the other off the bat as each Chartered Accountancy body offers a fast-track route for AAT grads, so you can start with AAT and work your way up to Chartered Accountancy!

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Online Accounting Courses

There’s a number of online qualifications out there that you can enrol on if you’re looking to become a fully qualified accountant online. These include:

AAT Qualifications

Qualifications from the Associations of Accounting Technicians (AAT) are best for newcomers who are looking to kick start their career in accountancy and finance with flexible, affordable, and 100% online professional qualifications.

AAT Level 2 Certificate in Accounting

The majority of those looking to start their finance career start with the AAT Level 2 Certificate as it’s the best accountancy qualification if you’re looking to expand and formalise your existing skills at the foundation level.

The qualification requires no formal entry requirements (aside from being over 19 to enrol), and provides you with a comprehensive introduction to key areas of accounting such as bookkeeping controls and transactions and how to use modern accounting software.

Once you’ve completed this level, you’ll be fully qualified for entry-level accounting jobs, including Accounts Administrator or an Accounts Assistant.

AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting If you’ve already built a solid foundation of knowledge in your finance career, the AAT Level 3 Diploma may be the ideal qualification for you to begin with.
This qualification enables you to learn about more complex accountancy practices in-depth. You’ll learn about advanced bookkeeping and accounts, and once you’ve completed the qualification, will be eligible for a wide range of mid-level accounting roles, including Payroll Administrator and Accounts Payable Clerk.

AAT Level 4 Diploma in Professional Accounting Finally, if you’ve mastered the basics and are looking to jump right into a qualification that will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to officially call yourself an AAT Accounting Technician, then the AAT Level 4 Diploma is perfect for you!

This qualification will allow you to study everything you need to know to become a master in finance, including how to manage and evaluate financial performance, and put you on the path to apply to become an AAT Full Member and - as mentioned - join a fast-track route with all the major UK Chartered Accountancy bodies. Did we mention you can even use this Diploma as a launching pad for your own accountancy practice?

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ACCA Qualifications

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is one of the most well-recognised Chartered Accountancy bodies around the globe.

Their qualifications are a great choice if you already have a firm knowledge of accountancy or if you’re looking to study a more advanced qualification that will help you to eventually become a Chartered Accountant.

In total, they offer seven online courses through ACCA-X that will prepare you for the ACCA Foundation in Accountancy exams as well as the ACCA Qualification Applied Knowledge exams.

Their courses are broken into three categories:

Introductory courses

  • Introduction to Bookkeeping
  • Introduction to Management Accounting

Intermediate courses

  • Intermediate Bookkeeping
  • Intermediate Management Accounting

Diploma in Accounting and Business/Applied Knowledge courses 

  • Business and Technology
  • Management Accounting
  • Financial Accounting

If you’re not sure which online course is right for you, ACCA will help you choose based on your circumstances and current level of knowledge, helping you pave your way to becoming a fully qualified accountant online, your way. 

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CIMA Qualification

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) offers aspiring management accountants the option to study online, enabling you to gain a better understanding for both finance and business practice in one.

Unlike ACCA, which focuses more on the technical side of accountancy (i.e. tax and auditing), CIMA’s qualifications focus more on the management accounting and the strategic aspects of finance in business.

In total, they offer four online courses specific to management accounting, including:

  • Fundamentals of Business Economics
  • Fundamentals of Management Accounting
  • Fundamentals of Financial Accounting, and
  • Fundamentals of Ethics, Corporate Governance and Business Law

CIMA’s exams are computer based too and can be taken on an on-demand basis year round so you can take it when it works best for you!

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Alternative Options

Keep in mind that there are also in-person and blended learning options with other professional accounting bodies if you have more time to focus on your professional development, including:

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • The Institute of Public and Finance Accountancy (CIPFA)
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), or
  • Postgraduate study (e.g. an MSc in Accounting and Finance) 

It all depends on your level of ambition, availability, learning preference, and budget.

Accounting is a highly sought after and rewarding profession, and companies big and small depend on accountants - Chartered or not - to provide useful financial insights and advice for the benefit of the business.

We hope that we were able to give you a better idea of what qualifications would be best for you if you’d like to study to become a fully qualified accountant online, and wish you luck in your burgeoning career!

Interested in kickstarting or advancing your finance career? Enrol on a 100% online professional AAT qualification with us and get started today.

Download Your Free AAT Course Guide

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