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Which AAT Course Should You Study? AAT Qualifications Explained

Kickstart your AAT your finance career with a professional AAT qualification.

If you've recently decided you’d like to pursue a career in accountancy, congratulations - you've made a great choice!

As an accountant, you'll provide individuals and organisations alike with the financial, analytical, and problem-solving skills that are essential in today's working world while building a rewarding career you'll be proud of. 

To kickstart your budding new profession, however, we recommend studying one (or more!) of the AAT qualifications available to you in order to enhance and master your existing accountancy knowledge and skills.

If you're not sure which AAT qualification is the ideal fit for you though, not to worry! We've got you covered with everything you need to know to help you make the right choice before you enrol. 

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What is AAT?

Okay, so first things first! While you may have heard of AAT qualifications before, you might not know where they come from. To give you some background, AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) is the UK’s leading professional body offering skills-based accountancy and finance qualifications.

They have more than 135,000 members across 100 countries representing every level of the finance world from students all the way up to senior accounting professionals.  

AAT qualifications are globally recognised and highly desirable to employers as they teach the practical skills and knowledge that are essential for a successful career in accountancy and finance.

What AAT qualifications are there?

AAT offer a wide variety of accounting courses to study, including:

  1. Level 2 Certificate in Accounting
  2. Level 3 Diploma in Accounting 
  3. Level 4 Diploma in Professional Accounting 

They also offer bookkeeping qualifications for anyone just looking to develop this particular skill, including: 

  1. Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping
  2. Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping

What are AAT qualifications equivalent to?

Each AAT qualification has an equivalent on the Qualifications and Credit Framework, for instance: 

  • AAT Level 2 Certificate in Accounting
    This Level 2 qualification is equivalent to GCSE level study.

  • AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting
    This is a Level 3 qualification which is equivalent to an A Level.

  • AAT Level 4 Diploma in Professional Accounting
    This Level 4 qualification is equivalent to an HNC level qualification or the first year of a university degree. 
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AAT Qualifications: Explained 

Now that you know what qualifications are available to you, let's take a look at each individual AAT qualification more in-depth to help you figure out once and for all which AAT course you should study! 

AAT Level 2 Certificate in Accounting

This Level 2 qualification has no formal entry requirements other than being over the age of 19.

It’s perfect for those who have no experience in accountancy or finance as it equips you with essential knowledge of bookkeeping, costing and using accounting software.

Throughout the course, you’ll study 5 units and take 5 exams which you’ll sit in-person at an approved AAT exam centre.

Studying this course will enable you to apply for entry-level roles such as Accounts Assistant, Accounts Administrator, or Accounts Payable Clerk.

If you need to start at Level 2 but know you want to progress to Level 3 afterwards, you can enrol on a combined course which will save you money and enable you to move on to the next level immediately.   

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AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting

As this is a more advanced course, you’ll need to be over 19 to enrol and have either completed the Foundation Certificate or have significant practical experience in accountancy and a strong understanding of double-entry bookkeeping. 

You'll study 5 units that will cover more complex accounting practices including advanced bookkeeping, final accounts and ethics for accountants. You’ll have to sit 5 computer-based exams to pass the course, all of which will be sat in-person an AAT exam centre.

This Level 3 course is perfect for those already working in accountancy who are looking to progress their career to the next stage as it will prepare you for mid-level roles such as Payroll Supervisor and Assistant Accountant.

Once you complete this qualification, you’ll be a fully qualified bookkeeper too and can apply for AAT associate bookkeeping membership.

When signing up to study Level 3, you also have the option to study Level 4 with a combined course, saving you money and the time it would take to re-enrol. 

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AAT Level 4 Diploma in Professional Accounting

Very few people start off with the Professional Diploma as you’ll need to be knowledgeable about everything covered by the Foundation Certificate and the Advanced Diploma to enrol.

You’ll study 4 core units and pick your choice of 2 optional units. These will give you the chance to get to grips with complex accountancy practices like drafting financial statements, managing budgets, and evaluating financial performance.

Similar to the other 2 AAT levels, you'll need to sit exams to pass the course. There's a total of 6 and once again they need to be sat in-person at an approved AAT centre

Along with becoming an AAT affiliate member, once you complete this course, you'll have the skills and experience to take your career to new heights. This might look like:  

  1. Taking on a senior accounting role such as Senior Finance Officer or Senior Fund Accountant
  2. Setting up your own accountancy firm, or 
  3. Joining a fast-track programme to become a Chartered Accountant.

You'll also be able to apply to become an AAT Full Member or Fellow Member once you have the necessary professional experience.

We hope that reading through this has given you a good idea of the ideal AAT qualification for you, but if you’re still unsure you can try using the AAT Skillcheck test, a great resource designed to match you to your perfect starting point.

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