Do you need university to become an accountant? Pt2

Christina Nawrocki concludes her piece about whether you need a university degree to become an accountant.


Reading time: 2m 30s.

Work and Study

Often local accounting firms allow trainees to study for their foundation diploma, such as the AAT, at college whilst remaining in the office four days a week. The advantage of this is that the young person gains valuable ‘on the job’ experience and meets key people within the industry, whilst also studying for a professional qualification.

This was of particular interest to Jasmine, who said: “Working on real clients gave me first-hand experience of the many different types of businesses. It was really useful as it helped me understand some of the more technical matters that came up in my training.

“I also received lots of support and advice from the partners and training managers which definitely helped me pass my exams. I have an internationally recognised qualification to back up three years’ worth of work and study.”

Debt Free

The advantage of not going to university is that a young person doesn’t accumulate student debt, but they are still able to gain a professional qualification and enter the career they want. A study entitled ‘Payback Time’ by researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) looked at the new student loan system and tuition fees.

I would encourage anyone thinking about an accountancy career to consider what approach they feel most comfortable with.

They concluded that students will leave university with debt amounting to approximately £44,035, compared to £24,754 under the old system.

Those entering higher education must take on a very significant amount of borrowing to go through the university process.

This disparity in debt was apparent when Jasmine compared her career path to one of her friends and peers: “A friend of mine went to university with a view to also becoming an accountant. We were the same age, yet she was just starting out with her training and had loads of debt accumulated from her student loan, tuition fees, accommodation and other things. 

“Compare that to me, I had no debts hanging round my neck. I was fully qualified and moving into the next stage of my career. I know which of the two positions I would rather have been in. For me, not going to university was a no brainer.”


Going to university is still the most common option for anyone wishing to pursue a career in accounting. In doing so, students not only graduate with a degree, but they are also given the opportunity to broaden their life experiences.

However, bypassing university is an increasingly popular approach, with many preferring the on-the-job training, and added benefits of being debt free and gaining work-place experience. I would encourage anyone thinking about an accountancy career to consider what approach they feel most comfortable with.

There is no right or wrong path, it is entirely down to the individual.

Read part one of this piece here


About the author

Christina Nawrocki FCCA is managing partner at Wellers


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