Careers advice and planning

Benefits of a professional accountancy qualification

22 Jun 2023, 13:18

Whether you aspire to work in public practice, the private sector or for a government body, getting a professional qualification in accountancy should be your priority.

Two people sitting at a table that is covered in calculators

A key advantage of a career in accountancy is the abundance of opportunities to develop your knowledge. On top of the ongoing training and progress reviews you receive when you join your first employer, you will be expected to become a qualified Certified or Chartered Accountant. This will combine work and study – and your employer may even fund it. The Certified Public Accountancy qualification and the Chartered Accountancy qualification are internationally recognised marks of quality and professionalism, signalling to clients and the rest of the industry that your work is top notch and enabling you to take advantage of broader career opportunities both at home and overseas.

Training to become chartered normally takes place via a training contract in an accountancy practice or business, and usually takes about three and a half years. However there are now other flexible routes as a result of recent changes to the education model with Chartered Accountants Ireland , you can study outside of a training contract at a time and place that suits you. You can also avail of a new distance learning education model where lectures are offered online.

There are a number of other professional accountancy qualifications for you to choose from. Certified Public Accountants Ireland represents over 5000 members and students and is a qualification with a strong international reputation. There are 2.8 million qualified accountants worldwide and 1 million of them are CPA accountants. So if you want to work here in Ireland or internationally your CPA qualification is recognised in both. While your employer will help select the one most suitable, the decision on which path to follow is regularly down to the student, so choose a qualification that best suits your career aspirations. Qualification processes can vary but you will need to complete examinations. Graduates of all disciplines are accepted into the profession and train to become accountants; those with a finance/accounting degree may be exempt from some parts of the qualification process.

Most trainees will work full-time while they study, however if you are not working it is possible to clear exams with the professional bodies. While you shouldn’t underestimate how tough this can be, your employer and professional association will support you. Most employers are well aware of the demands of juggling full-time work with study, and many give study leave – some even put you in touch with a recently qualified mentor as well. Often employers will cover the costs of your study. These days professional associations provide web resources and online communities for their graduate members.

Professional bodies

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

Certified Public Accountants (CPA)

Chartered Accountants Ireland

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy

Accounting Technicians Ireland

Irish Tax Institute

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