Average Salaries Across the Board
For those who are looking to follow a career in accountancy, it can be a long road from school leaver to newly qualified professional; however it can provide a lucrative profession with an average UK salary (in June 2013) of £33,000 (£42,000 in London). The majority of practitioners will earn from £20,000 - £60,000 depending on their location in the country and the level of their expertise, with average salaries for financial accountants standing at £52,000, management accountants £40,000, accounting clerks £25,000 and bookkeepers £30,000. The one point on which all will agree is that gaining a professional qualification will provide a significant leap in take home pay as employees are able to demonstrate their level of skills, knowledge and expertise in their chosen field.
The ACCA Qualification
For school leavers and those with no accountancy experience, it is advisable to follow an introductory programme (such as the AAT) prior to embarking on a specific qualification. Options also include the Introductory Certificate in Financial and Management Accounting, the Certificate in Business Accounting and the Certificate of Higher Education.
Those who have yet to decide which area of accountancy to practise, and in which area of the industry to work, may find that the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification course provides a good option. Following the successful completion of an Introductory programme (or previous accountancy experience), the student will study for the ACCA Intermediate Certificate which consists of four topics:
- Recording Financial Transactions
- Management Information
- Maintaining Financial Records
- Management Costs and Finances
By the conclusion of the course students will have the ability to demonstrate that they have the skills to progress their career.
The ACCA Diploma in Accountancy and Business provides an ideal qualification for a junior role (for example bookkeeping) and is equivalent to the first year of a Bachelors degree. It also represents the third stage in completing the Foundations in Accounting qualification after the Introductory and Intermediate stages.
Successful completion of the final Masters level qualification will allow the student to call himself a Professional Accountant and to apply for Chartered status.
A freshly ACCA qualified accountant can expect to earn between £40,000 - £50,000. Average starting salaries in London are £47,500. After 10-15 years experience, senior practitioners can earn up to £100,000.
CIMA Qualification and Expectations
Available for either full or part-time study, the CIMA (Chartered Institute for Management Accountants) qualification has been designed for those who are in a supporting role assisting management teams in applications such as analysis and decision making processes. Comprising 3 pillars, Operational, Management and Strategic, the programme will test students on Enterprise, Performance and Financial applications within the structure of the pillars before they progress to the final professional examination when, upon successful completion, they will have earned the right to call themselves Chartered Management Accountants.
Newly qualified professionals can expect a starting salary of £45,000 - £50,000 in London and the south-east; senior management roles can range up to £120,000 plus.
Success through CFA Qualification
The notoriously difficult CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) qualification demands that students devote 4 years of Masters level self-study to the programme which consists of 3 stages covering 4 topics in each; Ethical and Professional Standards, Investment Tools, Asset Classes and Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning.
With an 80% drop-out rate of students in the first year of study, the course provides a challenging, but increasingly necessary tool to entering the accountancy profession at the highest levels. Many employers within the industry now view the CFA as virtually mandatory and consider it as the must have qualification amongst new professionals entering the sector with those qualified earning, on average, 25% more than those without the qualification.
Average salaries for CFA qualified financial analysts range from £20,000 - £60,000, investment managers £33,000 - £76,000, Investment Analysts £26,000 - £82,000 and portfolio managers £39,000 - £78,000.