Careers Service

Accountancy

Accountancy work is at the heart of every business and offers many opportunities.

What's accountancy like?

There are two main types of accountants: 

  • Chartered accountants are employed by accountancy firms or business service firms. They usually work with multiple clients and are mostly concerned with auditing, recording of financial trends and business advice. 
  • Chartered Management accountants work within one organisation looking to its future financial plans. 

Chartered accountants work in all sectors and every size of organisation, so you can choose your preferred working environment. Larger firms, where the vacancies are concentrated, have offices in major cities and towns around the country and overseas, whereas smaller firms may be concentrated in a particular location or specialise in a particular type of client. 

 

In management accountancy, large multinational organisations provide the most coveted training positions, with potential employers including the leading firms in water, gas, electricity, pharmaceuticals, retailing, consumer goods manufacturing and transport. There are also opportunities to train as an accountant in the public sector with various schemes, including those run by the Civil Service, local government and the NHS. 

 

These profiles of common roles within this sector show what each role involves, how to get into it, what salary to expect and who the major employers are.  

Job profile: Accounting technician (Prospects) 

Job profile: Chartered accountant  (Prospects)

Job profile: Chartered management accountant   (Prospects) 

Job profile: Chartered certified accountant   (Prospects)

Job profile: Chartered public finance accountant   (Prospects) 

Job profile: External auditor   (Prospects) 

 

How can I get work experience? 

Work experience will help develop your skillset and commercial awareness as well as building a network of colleagues and contacts.  

 

Many accountancy firms offer vacation work, internships and insight days. Find these advertised in the Opportunities section of on MyCareerHub.

 

 

Work shadowing a professional gives you chance to observe their day-to-day activities and find out first-hand what the job involves.

Speculative applications and networking are key approaches to finding work experience. 

Create your own opportunity 

 

Skills development

Accountants are typically required to have good mathematical skills. If you need to develop these try some of the many free online courses , including MOOCS (massive open online courses) on EdX and FutureLearn.  

EdX

FutureLearn 

 

LinkedIn Learning is free to access while you’re a student at this University and is another great source of learning material 

LinkedIn Learning   (Information Services)

Whatever role you’re applying for, employers are looking for applicants who can demonstrate commercial awareness and receptivity to new ideas. Check out our advice on how to develop commercial awareness:  

Build your commercial awareness 

Extracurricular activities and part-time jobs can showcase problem-solving skills e.g.  overcoming unforeseen difficulties whilst planning an event or resolving a customer complaint.  

Taking part in sport and university societies provides opportunities to develop team work and communication skills. 

Edinburgh University Sports Union

Edinburgh University Students’ Association – societies

Visit the Events section of MyCareerHub for details of relevant events. 

Get your organisational and time management skills recognised by taking part in the Edinburgh Award. 

Edinburgh Award 

 

Professional qualification 

In order to become a qualified accountant it is essential to complete further study (not a further degree). This is usually funded and supported by your employer, particularly if you are taken onto a graduate scheme. Professional qualifications are offered through one of the professional bodies for the accountancy profession.

The vacancy you apply for will often specify which professional body you will train with. 

  • ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) 
  • ICAS (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland)
  • ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)

  • CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)

  • CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants) 

  • CIOT (Chartered Institute of Taxation).

Graduate recruiters don’t generally require a postgraduate qualification such as a Masters degree or PhD so doing postgraduate study in accountancy and finance isn't essential, and won't necessarily put you at an advantage compared to those applying straight from undergraduate studies. If you do decide to pursue further study, there are lots of courses to choose from. Use the postgraduate study course search option on Prospects Web and Target Courses: 

 

Vacancies 

Many of the big accountancy firms offer graduate schemes. Most will advertise on MyCareerHub but it is still worth checking individual company websites for opportunities.  

You can also use the expired opportunities feature in MyCareerHub to see when companies have previously advertised. 

MyCareerHub 

You will also find accountancy jobs advertised on many other websites, for example:

CityJobs 

eFinancialCareers  

TargetJobs

CIMA 

ICAS 

LinkedIn is a great way to access ‘the hidden jobs market’ – the vast number of job openings that are not formally advertised. Use LinkedIn to network and explore the career paths of people doing the type of job you want to do. 

Develop your network and build your profile