What is the Best Accountancy Qualification?

VIVA is here to help you navigate the complex world of accounting qualifications and discover some of the most sought-after and prestigious options.

How do you take your accounting career to the next level? Perhaps you're just starting in the field and feeling lost, or you've been working for a while and are ready for a new challenge. Either way, a professional qualification could be just what you need to unlock fresh opportunities, boost your earning power, and foster personal growth.

But with so many accounting qualifications available, knowing which one to choose can take time and effort. That's where we come in – VIVA is here to help you navigate the complex world of accounting qualifications and discover some of the most sought-after and prestigious options.

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)

Source: www.accaglobal.com

ACCA is a widely recognised and respected accountancy qualification. Founded in 1904, ACCA has a long history of providing top-quality training and education to aspiring accountants across the globe.

Over the years, ACCA has grown into a global organization, with over 241,000 members and 542,000 students worldwide. ACCA's combination of international recognition, flexibility, comprehensive syllabus, professionalism and ethics make it a unique and highly respected accounting qualification. [1]

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining the Qualification

  • Academic Qualifications: Candidates seeking to obtain the ACCA qualification must have at least two passes in GCE/VCE A Level (grades A-E) and three passes in GCSE/Vocational GCSE/GCE O Level (grades 9-4/A-C) in five separate subjects, including Mathematics and English.
  • Exams: A candidate must pass all of the exams that cover topics such as corporate and business law, taxation, financial reporting, and more. The exams are computer-based and can be taken throughout the year, giving candidates flexibility in their study schedule.
  • Practical Experience: Candidates must complete at least three years of practical experience in a relevant accounting or finance role. This experience can be gained before, during, or after completing the exams.
  • Ethics and Professional Skills: Candidates must complete an Ethics and Professional Skills module, which covers topics such as ethical behavior, professional skepticism, and communication skills.

How Long Does ACCA Qualification Take To Complete

The time it takes to complete the ACCA qualification varies depending on the individual candidate's circumstances. On average, it takes around three to four years to complete all the exams and gain the necessary practical experience. 

Acquiring the ACCA qualification can be difficult, particularly if you are studying independently. However, VIVA Financial Tuition's ACCA courses can ease this process by providing extensive resources, such as hundreds of hours of HD video lectures and exam scenario walkthroughs delivered only by subject matter experts.

CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)

Source: https://www.aicpa-cima.com/home

Established in the UK in 1919, CIMA is a leading professional accountant qualification focusing on management accounting. It involves evaluating and interpreting financial data to assist organisations in making informed business decisions. 

CIMA is now a widely recognised global certification, with over 696,000 members and learners in 190 countries. CIMA's curriculum is continuously evaluated to stay current and incorporate recent industry developments and best practices. 

It focuses on management accounting, which involves analysing and interpreting financial information to help organizations make better business decisions. This sets it apart from other accounting qualifications, which may have a more general focus on financial accounting. [2]

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining the CIMA Qualification

  • Academic Qualifications: You should hold a recognised bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification OR have at least two years of relevant work experience.
  • Pass the CIMA Professional Qualification: This comprises three levels: Operational, Management, and Strategic. Each level includes three objective tests and one integrated case study exam.
  • Work Experience: You must have a minimum of three years of practical experience while studying for the CIMA Professional Qualification.

How Long Does CIMA Qualification Take To Complete

The qualification usually takes around three to four years, although the time frame may differ depending on factors such as the student's prior education, eligibility for exemptions, and study pace. When pursuing the CIMA qualification, it's essential to have a training provider that offers adaptable courses to fit individual needs.

That's where VIVA comes in. Our award-winning online CIMA courses are structured in a way that allows students to progress at their own pace, with easily manageable modules and interactive online sessions.

AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)

Source: https://www.aat.org.uk/

The AAT was established in 1980 by merging two professional accounting bodies: the Institute of Accounting Staff (IAS) and the Association of Technicians in Finance and Accounting (ATFA). It is a not-for-profit organization with the primary goal of promoting the education and professional development of individuals in accounting.

As a professional membership body and a leading provider of vocational accounting qualifications in the United Kingdom, the AAT qualification is designed to equip students with practical skills and knowledge in the accounting field. It aims to help them gain a strong foundation in accounting principles, practices, and regulations. [3]

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining the AAT Qualification

  • Academic Qualifications: The AAT qualification emphasises acquiring practical skills and knowledge that can be directly implemented in a professional setting. As such, it does not necessitate formal academic qualifications as a prerequisite for enrollment.
  • AAT Levels: The AAT qualification is structured into distinct levels, with each level being composed of unique units that are evaluated through a combination of exams and practical assessments. As one progresses through the levels, they are able to expand their comprehension of accounting principles, practices, and regulations, building on the knowledge and skills obtained from the prior level.

A noteworthy aspect of the AAT program is that students are given the flexibility to select their starting level based on their previous experience and understanding. 

  • Work Experience: The AAT qualification does not require candidates to have specific work experience before enrollment. However, candidates with prior work experience in accounting or finance may find it easier to understand and apply the concepts taught in the course.

How Long Does AAT Qualification Take To Complete

The AAT qualification duration can vary depending on multiple factors, including the level of the qualification, the pace of study, and the individual's prior knowledge and experience. Level 2 and Level 3 usually require 6-12 months to finish, while Level 4 may take 12-18 months.

ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales)

Source: https://www.icaew.com/

The ICAEW is a well-established professional accountancy body founded in the UK back in 1880. It is considered one of the oldest and most esteemed accounting bodies worldwide, with a presence in more than 140 countries and over 181,000 members and students.

One unique aspect of the ICAEW qualification is its focus on producing business leaders, not just accountants. The qualification emphasises not only technical accounting skills but also broader business skills such as leadership, strategy, and communication.

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining the ICAEW Qualification

  • ACA Qualification: In order to become a Chartered Accountant with the ICAEW, it is required to successfully complete the ACA qualification. The ACA qualification consists of four components, which aim to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of finance, accounting skills, and real-world business experience.
  • Exam Modules: The ACA qualification comprises 15 exam modules covering a wide range of topics essential to accountancy. These modules include important subjects such as financial management, law, assurance, and business strategy, which equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their career prospects.
  • Work Experience: You must complete 450 days of work experience. This work experience must be acquired through an ICAEW-authorised training employer or authorized training principal and should be relevant to areas such as Accounting, Audit and Assurance, Tax, Financial Management, Insolvency or Information Technology.

How Long Does ICAEW Qualification Take To Complete

Typically, it takes between three to five years to complete the required days of work experience, which is a mandatory component of the qualification. In addition, students must pass 15 exam modules, which can take several years to complete depending on the pace of study.

However, some students may be eligible for exemptions from certain exam modules based on their prior education and qualifications, which can shorten the overall duration of the qualification.

CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy)

Source: https://www.cipfa.org/

CIPFA is a UK-based professional accountancy body that concentrates on public sector finance. Initially established in 1885 as the London Association of Public Accountants, its headquarters is in London. CIPFA offers qualifications and training to individuals in the public sector, including local and national governments, health and social care organisations, and non-profit organisations.

Emphasising ethics and professional standards, CIPFA members must comply with a strict code of conduct. In addition to its educational programs, CIPFA is also involved in conducting research and providing policy advice on public finance and governance issues.

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining the CIPFA Qualification

  • Academic Qualifications: a minimum of three GCSEs with grades A-C or grades 4 and above, as well as two A-Levels with grades A-C or an equivalent qualification. It is essential that Maths and English are included at either level. The Scottish, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland equivalents are also accepted.

Additionally, BTEC and SCOTVEC national certificates are considered. The minimum vocational requirement for most accounting qualifications is an NVQ/GNVQ level 3, or the Scottish equivalent.

  • Exam Modules: The Professional Accountancy Qualification (PAQ) consists of 12 modules divided into four stages: a certificate and three diplomas. The PAQ covers various areas, such as financial accounting, management accounting, taxation, and audit.
  • Portfolio: As part of your studies, it is necessary to create and present a portfolio that documents your practical work experience and showcases the skills you have acquired. This portfolio is essentially a record of your professional growth throughout the course of your studies and must be submitted upon completion.

How Long Does CIPFA Qualification Take To Complete

The duration of completing the qualification may differ depending on the candidate's prior qualifications and relevant work experience. However, on average, full-time students usually take about three and a half years to complete the program.


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Choosing the best accountancy qualification depends on your career goals, personal preferences, and educational background. Each qualification has its unique features and benefits, such as the ICAEW's reputation for professionalism, ACCA's global recognition, and CIPFA's focus on public sector finance. It is essential to research and consider all options carefully before deciding, as the qualification you choose can significantly impact your career trajectory.

Are you looking to learn more about the different accountancy qualifications, such as ACCA, CIMA, and AAT? Explore our courses or contact us at VIVA for expert tuition and advice. Let us help you take the next step toward achieving your professional goals in the field of accounting.

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