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Private practice accountant

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Private practice accountants help people and businesses manage their money effectively.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £100,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 30 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need at least 2 A levels and 3 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths. You don't usually need a degree or maths A level.

You must qualify with one of the following professional bodies:

These each have different entry requirements for their courses and different routes to qualify. You can usually qualify more quickly if you have qualifications in business and finance or A levels.

You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  •  analytical skills and a logical approach
  •  a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
  •  organisational and time-management skills
  • good communication skills, to explain complex financial information clearly

3. What you'll do

Your clients could range from small businesses to large companies or wealthy individuals. 

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • preparing financial statements, business plans and budget reports
  • producing accounts
  • auditing
  • managing clients’ spending and costs
  • filing tax returns and giving tax advice
  • forecasting profits and performance
  • helping businesses that may be in financial difficulty
  • investigating fraud (forensic accounting)

You’ll deal with all of these if you freelance or work for a small accountancy practice. 

In a large practice you’ll specialise in one area like tax or insolvency.

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £27,000

Experienced: £28,000 to £50,000

Highly Experienced: Up to £100,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work standard office hours Monday to Friday, but may also work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. You may work longer hours at busy times like the end of the financial year.

You’ll be based in an office, but spend much of your time visiting clients. 

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could specialise in an area like auditing or forensic accounting, or become a manager in a practice. You could then move into a partnership or become a finance director.

You could also become self-employed or set up your own company.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018