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Changing Careers: studying whilst in a full-time job

Headshot of a male learner

Danny Green, AAT student, shares what ignited his decision to change careers and how he balanced his studies whilst in a full-time job.

I’ve always liked accountancy, whether I was conscious of it or not.

I first truly realised I wanted to do accounting in my previous marketing role - as I moved the company to a new accounting system. Here and there, I was dabbling.

I got very familiar with the system as I had 1-on-1 training on it, and this allowed me to train the whole company. As I was really enjoying this, I spoke to my neighbour who was a chartered accountant, and with my love of problem solving and numbers, it sounded like the right career for me.

So, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for the AAT whilst working.

Balancing furlough, full-time work, and studies

Not long after my first exam, however, I moved jobs to a Telecoms support manager because it was more technical and paid more. As I had so much to learn with starting a new job I took a year off studying.

When Covid hit I was put on furlough. After a couple months I decided I didn't want to waste any time and jumped straight back into studying (there is only so much Netflix you can watch). Since I had already paid for it, I thought I should get back into it.

Being on furlough made it easy to study as I was able to do eight hours a day, as if it was a 9-to-5 job. This helped me progress quickly and I ended up doing one exam every two weeks.

Once I returned to working full-time, I had to adapt to how I studied. I try now to do a minimum of one hour a day with the occasional 2-3 hours where possible. Then I have the weekends off - especially now we can go out and enjoy it!

With OnDemand you can work at a pace that suits you. I sat one exam before I took a break and then when I restarted I took the other four within the space of two months. You just have to be flexible and work around what you have on.

Changing careers

If someone wants to start their accounting career whilst working, I would tell them it is not as time consuming as you think. On average think about doing 10 hours a week, but that’s completely flexible, you just have to have a good balance between life and work.

If there’s something you really want to do, but you feel hindered by the cost or the time needed to do it, you need to take a step back. Really consider the end goal and the future benefits. Ask yourself ‘Will it be worth my while in the long run?’. If the answer is yes, then proceed. Even if it does cost you a little bit of money and time.

Employers are impressed if it’s evident that you’ve invested in yourself. It shows how willing and dedicated you are. I think of it as spending money to make money.

Also, it's very motivating when you have a career you really want to succeed in. When you're young, you can be unsure of what you want to do and sometimes you need that spark that helps you realise. That’s what happened to me, and the work with the accounting system was the one thing that made everything click.

Since completing my Level 2 and starting my Level 3, I have been able to move into a job within accounting. I feel as though my hard work is already paying off and I am now on the career path that I want.

Find out more

Have you thought of becoming an accountant but don’t know where to start? Find out more on our AAT pages. You don’t need any previous qualifications or accountancy experience to get started.