Choosing a career is one of the most difficult and important things in life. This is a decision that you do not get to take a lot of time in life and for this reason, it is very important to have complete knowledge of all the options that you are considering before deciding on your career.
If you are a student and you have decided to choose a career in accounting and finance then this article just may be for you. In another article, we discussed the difference between an accounting degree and an accounting qualification like ACCA. In this article, we will focus on accounting qualifications like ACCA and help you in understanding how you can assess different accounting qualifications and then choose the one that suits you the most.
So let us get started.
Our basic assumption is that you are in college and looking for future career options. You want to opt for an accounting qualification to pursue a professional career in accounting and finance. So you already have a basic understanding of accounting and finance. This is good as it will help you get streamlined into the qualification of your choice easily.
The first thing that you need to consider is the cost of your studies. Generally, accounting qualifications cost a lot less than university degrees, but there are some factors that still need to be covered. Accounting qualifications like ACCA can be done on a self-study basis but self-study is only recommended for those students who can handle it. Most students cannot and so they have to get enrolled in institutes and academies, these will charge their fee. The fee, however, is still less, compared to university degrees because the expenses of these academies are lower. One more thing to keep in mind is that it is possible that you may not complete your accounting qualification in one go.
Yes, and you may already have heard about this. The passing rates in accounting qualifications are lower than universities but this is not bad. Accounting qualifications are harder as compared to university education, they go into much more depth technically and the difficulty level can be considered as a combination of masters and bachelor’s level difficulty level. This means that you as a student must be prepared that if the bad comes to worse, you may end up failing in an exam or two and this will increase the cost of your studies as you will have to pay the exam fee again and possibly take a crash course.
This brings us to the second point. You need to understand that accounting qualifications have a higher difficulty level than a university degree and so you will need to put in extra effort from your side as a student to make sure that you stay on top of your game throughout your studies. However, we have seen even the best of students face failures because this is just how tough accounting qualifications are. So you need to work and also be mentally ready to face any eventuality. It is generally said that accounting qualifications don`t just prepare you professionally and technically but they also prepare you mentally. Many students who face failures in the process of their qualification realize that failure is not an obstacle, instead, it is an opportunity to get better.
So when you are choosing the accounting qualification, you must check their difficulty level to be sure that you can handle it. ACCA is a balanced qualification in the sense that the initial exams are less difficult and they prepare the student for the more difficult exams that come in later stages. It is structured in a well-balanced manner that allows the students to transition from a lesser difficulty level to a higher difficulty level with relevant ease.
You may be wondering how can I assess the difficulty level of qualification? Well, one way to do so is to look at the pass rates of the exams offered by a qualification. A brief look at the pass rates of qualification and comparison with qualifications will tell you which one is easier and which one has a high difficulty level.
The next thing to consider is the amount of time required to complete the qualification. Most qualifications take around 3-5 years to complete but once again if you factor in the time lost if you fail an exam, then this period may extend. Considering the time required for completing the qualification is important because it will help you plan for your future accordingly.
The next point to consider is the requirement for training or internship. Most qualifications require the students to spend some time in relevant roles to demonstrate their professional and technical competency. You need to see if you will be required to work while studying or after completing your studies. Some qualifications like institutes of chartered accountants in different countries require students to work while studying whereas ACCA has no such requirement. Students can work while studying or after completing their studies. Both approaches have their own merits.
If you opt to work while studying, you can save up your time and also rack up experience as you study. Your work will also give you a greater understanding of the subjects you are studying. But this will give you less time to focus on your studies and your studies may suffer. Taking up training after studying will add more time to your qualification but this will allow you to give your complete undivided attention to your studies.
These points should help you narrow down your search to the most suitable options. You will then need to consider what role do you want to study for. For example if you opt for ACCA you will be positioned to take a number of roles later on in your professional career, ACCA will allow you to specialize further in financial management, financial reporting, auditing, performance management and taxation. There are other qualifications like CIMA that focus on a narrow area like management accounting.
So, you need to keep these points in mind while deciding your future career. Hopefully this guide will help you in making the right decision for your life and career.