Future Accountant? Here's What You NEED To Know As A GCSE / A-level Student!

Thinking about a career in accounting? This post is for YOU! We'll break down the best degrees for accounting firms, hidden gems in other subjects that can still get you there, and how to develop the skills you need to succeed! #GetThatJob #SkillBuilding

Updated: 19th June 2024

You’re a GCSE student, looking to choose you’re A-levels of college course

Will my GCSEs still be relevant for universities and careers in the future?
The short answer is yes. Many employers will look back across your full academic record and want you to have achieved at least five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, with two of these being in English and Maths – especially if you aren’t planning on studying either of these subjects at A-Level.

In fact, achieving at least a B/6 in GCSE Maths and English is a common requirement from universities in addition to your A-Level grades, and also for employers should you wish to go into an accountancy role instead of university when the time comes.

Which subjects you’ll need for an accountancy or finance degree at university?
Typically, if you’re thinking of going to university as part of your career path you will have taken an A-Level in Maths, and some of the top universities will want you to achieve a grade A/7 or B/6 in this. Other universities will be a little more flexible and want you to have completed either Maths or Business Studies, or similar subjects like Economics.

Universities will also count most other traditional A-Level subjects towards the points you require for an offer of a place, and English is often a popular option here. However, before making your choices, it’s important to note that subjects such as General Studies and Critical Thinking are often not accepted by certain universities.

You’re an A-Level student, looking to apply to university

What degrees do accounting firms usually look for?
Typically, an Accounting degree is the path most travelled for those who know they want to go into an accountancy role after university. This can offer the most obvious and translatable set of knowledge and skills, by giving you direct experience into accounting principles, techniques, regulation and more. It is also most likely to give you the chance to apply for exemptions to exam modules in the future, by already completing the relevant learning within your degree.

For those who either are not entirely sure about their career path when they apply to university, or who want to study a broader subject, most accounting practices will readily accept degrees in subjects such as Maths, Business, Management and Finance, and Economics. These subjects not only demonstrate a similar knowledge and skillset, but may still provide some study exemptions for later accounting exams.

Which other degree subjects could give you relevant skills for an accounting career?
It’s a common misconception, however, that accounting firms are only looking for specific accounting and finance degrees. In fact, most will be looking more closely at the full package a potential graduate offers in terms of their overall skills, experience, ability and attitude.

Language or science degrees, for instance, can still be accepted by many employers if you’re also able to demonstrate your application of skills like research, writing, results analysis, the application of technical knowledge and more.

What else can you do outside of study to develop your wider skills?
When it comes to planning for further study and beyond, it’s all about building and demonstrating your skills that not only make you a good candidate for a university place, but that will also help show your broader abilities to future employers.

If accounting is your chosen career path, it can be useful to start reading up on accounting basics, different types of work for businesses and individuals, a typical day for a new accountant, and even some different specialisms that might interest you once you’ve got started. Having that knowledge will really help your decision making down the line.

It could also be an advantage to pick up some new skills too. This could be anything from volunteering in your community, to getting involved in school activities, or completing some work experience. These ideas don’t need to be directly related to any career ideas you might have, but will help you get experience in areas like working to deadlines, teamwork, communication, handling responsibilities, and time and project management.

It could be you already have some great experience, but didn’t realise how you could use it in your university application. Reframing the things you’ve learned from the activities you take part in - whether that’s a sports team, a music group or a part-time job, for example - to link it to the skills you might need in your degree subject, is a really good way of standing out from the crowd for admissions tutors.

Knowledge is king

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