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Moving on from AAT to ACCA

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If you're nearing the end of your AAT qualification, or if you finished it a little while ago, it might be time to start thinking about a move to ACCA.

Here are some things to consider before making any decision.

What is the difference between AAT and ACCA?

AAT is your first step into accounting, and all you need to begin the course is enthusiasm. The Foundation level Certificate in Accounting will give you the basic accounting skills and knowledge, from costing and double-entry bookkeeping, to computerised accounting.

ACCA is aimed at those with some previous qualifications. To start the Applied Knowledge level, you will need to have at least two A levels and three GCSEs or the Level 3 (Advanced) AAT qualification. If you have a Level 2 (Foundation) AAT qualification and don’t meet the A level and GCSE requirements, you can register for the ACCA Foundations in Accountancy qualification.

The Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills levels of ACCA start at a more advanced level than AAT Level 2 and 3 (Foundation and Advanced).

Its coverage is both broad and deep, focusing in detail on topics including Financial Accounting, Corporate and Business Law, and Performance Management.

Progressing to ACCA after AAT Professional (Level 4)

Once you’ve completed AAT Professional Diploma (level 4) you can go on to do the full ACCA qualification and become a chartered accountant, but you will also be able to apply for some exam exemptions (see below). ACCA is considered a much harder qualification to achieve, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

The AAT fast track route to ACCA chartered status

ACCA is one of several UK chartered accountancy bodies that offer AAT full members (MAAT) and fellow members (FMAAT) exemptions that allow them to complete a chartered qualification faster.

ACCA to AAT Exemptions

You will be eligible for ACCA exam exemptions once AAT qualified. You won’t need to sit Accountant in Business (AB - previously known as F1), Management Accounting (MA - previously F2), or Financial Accounting (FA - previously F3).

How long will it take to move from AAT to being ACCA qualified?

Thanks to the exemptions you get from being AAT qualified, you could complete your ACCA qualification in two years instead of three.

How much does it cost to move to ACCA?

In addition to course materials and exams, you will need to pay an initial one-off registration fee of £89, plus an additional annual subscription fee of £112 to the ACCA. This pricing is subject to change.

Can I get my employer to pay for my qualification?

Yes, especially in public practice. There are an increasing number of employers offering training contracts for chartered status. This opens up training opportunities in major commercial companies, such as those in the manufacturing, retail and telecoms industries.

How hard are ACCA exams?

The ACCA exams are demanding, and increase in difficulty as you go through the syllabus. If you start ACCA once AAT qualified, therefore exempt from the first three exams, the standard of the first ACCA exam is set at the level of a UK Bachelors degree. The Professional Level exams are set at a Masters degree level.

But don’t worry - because you’ve completed the AAT qualification, you will have a really strong base to build on, and to develop through the ACCA qualification.

Could I earn more with an ACCA qualification?

The other thing to consider is where you want your career, and salary, to go. If you’re wanting a large salary with most doors open to you, then ACCA is the way forward. You could be looking at a salary of over £100,000* once qualified and a few years’ experience. With AAT you’re looking at roughly around £30,000.

So should I do ACCA?

In the end, it’s entirely up to you, but there are some things to consider. ACCA will take up a lot of your free time, so you’ll need to consider if you can really commit to it.

You will also need to do 3 years’ work experience - this will be easy if you’re already in a relevant accounting or finance role, but worth considering if you’re not quite in the right position.

For more information, watch a senior Kaplan tutor's webinar on the subject

Need more help to decide?

Have a look at our ACCA pages for more information about the qualification, what’s involved, and how it might work for you. Also our student services team are always on hand for any additional questions.