Why Take ACA?
If you are considering a lucrative career in Business, Accountancy or Bookkeeping, then the ACA accounting (Associate Chartered Accountant) qualification is one of the best options to reach that goal.
This is an internationally recognised and respected professional qualification awarded by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). However, if you are coming to this career through any other route than a degree in Accountancy, then chances are you have other demands on your time too.
ACA Study Options
Most students of the ACA course come to it as part of a career change or career progression plan and few, if any, students are immediate school leavers. That means that the length and time commitments of the ACA are going to be a very important consideration when choosing whether to take the course and choosing a course provider.
Because most students will be financing their ACA study through work (whether your employer pays or you fund it yourself from your salary), many of the course providers offer flexible study options.
You will be expected to take an absolute minimum of two years to complete all the required modules. At that pace, you will need to put in a considerable investment of your own time to complete all of the work.
How Demanding is the ACA Course in Accounting ?
Regardless of your mode of study, or who is paying, completing the ACA in the minimum two year period is challenging. The course is intensive and intellectually demanding from start to finish (as any advanced professional course should be). Most students, especially those who work full time around the course, should plan to take longer. Up to seven years is not unheard of, but naturally, when you study flexibly at your own pace, then how long a course takes to complete is largely down to you.
As a rough guide, most motivated students, who work at a relatively fast pace, will take an average of three years to fully complete the course. Students who are funded by their employer (known as a training contract) will have a set time to finish the course and this is often between two and three years, with time off to study and small extensions for resits or to give a little extra leeway to finish.
Other Facts Worth Noting
One important point to note is that regardless of how quickly you complete the modules and exams, the ACA UK accounting qualification is not awarded until the you have as at least 450 days over a minimum of 36 months (three years) technical work experience.
So even if you work tirelessly to get through the academic element in two years, you will still have a further year of technical work experience to accumulate. In rare cases, you may be eligible to complete only 300 hours over two years but there are strict conditions to qualify for this.
If you are an independent student (your employer does not offer the ICAEW Training Agreement) you may only go as far as the exams. You will not be able to gain the ACA qualification without the technical experience or the case study element of the course. In order to qualify, you must find that training agreement. For students who do this after the course, rather than during, gaining the ACA qualification will take a minimum of five years.