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What’s the difference between an accountant and a chartered accountant?

A split screen of two different workers, enjoying their work

It’s a question that’s asked quite often by many who are considering a career in accountancy. So we’ve developed this piece to highlight the differences.

Generally speaking, both can include similar tasks - from tax returns and yearly accounts, to the maintenance of accurate financial statements. But a chartered accountant usually has to go through a lot more training than an accountant and has a broader level of responsibility.

What does an accountant do?

An essential part of any business, an accountant records business transactions, reports on company performance, and issues financial statements. The role is varied and they may have many different day to day tasks such as: issuing invoices, dealing with salary and payroll, reconciling bank statements, dealing with tax, and analysing information from bookkeepers.

Accountants can specialise and focus on particular areas of finance, such as tax, audit, bookkeeping, costing - really anything they are interested in. So there are many career options for you if you choose to pursue this role.

Typically, accountants will have completed the AAT levels.

What does a chartered accountant do?

A chartered accountant is qualified to take on a number of specific activities within the spectrum of accountancy, beyond that of an accountant. Tasks could include auditing financial statements, filing corporate tax returns and financial advising.

They will usually work with senior managers and stakeholders, ensuring that the company/client is making the right strategic financial decisions and implementing effective change. They will be a trusted adviser for the company and can work in a broad range of roles, from financial controllers to directors or CEOs.

Chartered accountants will have completed ACCA. Within that they can focus on a particular area and can be employed for that specialism.

So what’s the difference?

Simply put - the qualification and work experience needed to qualify plus the scope of the role.

A chartered accountant has to become qualified with the ACCA or ACA and do a minimum of three years work experience, as well as complete a portfolio of work. Before an accountant can start ACCA/ACA they have to have some background in accounting or have studied the AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting.

You can become an accountant with little to no experience by starting at the beginning with the AAT Foundation Certificate and working your way up.

Ready for your step into accountancy or to further your career?

Whether you’re just starting out or wanting to become a chartered accountant we have the course for you. Check out our AAT, ACAACCA course information pages for more advice.

Sources:
https://hayvenhursts.co.uk/accountancy-services/differences-between-a-chartered-accountant-and-an-accountant
https://www.icaew.com/about-icaew/what-is-chartered-accountancy