Skip to main content

Frequently Asked Questions

Accounting: Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be a ‘qualified’ accountant?

A qualified accountant is someone who has completed the professional exams of one of the accounting institutes. These are:

·         Chartered Accountants Ireland (formerly the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland);

·          The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales;

·         The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland;

·         The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ;

·         The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants; and

·         The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

Please visit their websites to find out more about each. Your choice of institute will usually be dictated by your training firm.


What does a qualified accountant do?

Possible career options as a qualified accountant are extremely varied.

If you choose to work in practice you might be involved in preparing tax returns, tax planning, audit and forensic work, internal audit, corporate finance, consultancy or even preparing accounts. For more information on what these jobs entail, go to the websites of some global and local firms, e.g. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, FGS McClure Watters, Harbinson Mulholland.

However a majority of qualified accountants work outside practice: in industry, in the public sector, voluntary sector or in the banking sector. They are involved as financial or management accountants, internal auditors and often in senior management roles. Large local employers of qualified accountants include the public sector, the construction industry and larger national and multinational organizations.


How long does it take to become a qualified accountant?

The length of time to become qualified, and the process for doing so, is relatively similar across the institutes. As an example, for Chartered Accountants Ireland:

·         If you enter into a training contract with a firm with a degree in a subject other than accounting you must complete CAP1, CAP2 and FAE (3 years of classes and exams) while working for the firm for 3.5 years (i.e. you must pass the exams and gain the relevant experience).

·         If you enter into a training contract with a firm having completed an accounting degree at Queen’s and having achieved the exemptions (see below) you must complete CAP2 and FAE (2 years of classes and exams) while working for the firm for 3.5 years.

·         If after leaving the accounting degree you complete the Postgraduate Diploma (a one year course, currently at University of Ulster at Jordanstown but open to Queen’s students), you complete only the FAE set of exams and your training contract is 3 years.


What exemptions will I have from professional exams with BSc Accounting from Queen’s?

For students on BSc Accounting, BSc Accounting with a Modern Language and BSc Economics and Accounting, provided you achieve a 2:2 degree and 50% in the relevant modules, you are exempt from CAP1 with Chartered Accountants Ireland: this saves you one year of classes and exams when you are in your training contract. Other exemptions are also available for the other institutes such as CIMA, ACCA and ICAEW.


I didn’t do A-level Maths/Accounting: will I struggle on the course?

A-level Maths and Accounting are not a pre-requisite for BSc Accounting or BSc Accounting with a Modern Language (although Maths is required for BSc Economics and Accounting). You need to be numerate, comfortable with numbers (as evidenced by GCSE Grade B) but you do not need much of the ‘pure’ Maths that is taught at A-level. Other important skills for accountant include: great written and verbal communication skills, motivation, time management, team-working abilities, strong leaders and, on a more general level, people who are strongly interested in business.

I didn’t do A-levels at all, how can I find out whether I meet the entry criteria?

We welcome students with other qualifications where these are equivalent, visit the website at contact admissions directly on or 02890 972757.


What if I choose not to do the professional exams?

While a majority of students go on to complete the professional exams, each year some students choose to take other paths, including business related or management roles. These students report that BSc Accounting is very much valued by other graduate employers, and differentiates them from students with more general degrees. In addition the Careers Service, based in the Student Guidance Centre, will be there to help and advise you on other options available to you.


Does the course include a placement year?

BSc Accounting and BSc Economics and Accounting do not have a mandatory placement year, however if you wish to take a placement year this is not usually a problem, and may be viewed favourably by employers. Summer placements have also been successfully undertaken by our students and are an extremely valuable alternative to the full year.

If you study BSc Accounting with French or Spanish you have a mandatory placement year (between year 2 and final year) in a French/Spanish speaking country and working in an accounting firm or other financial institution, including KPMG Luxembourg and PWC Lyon. In either case our dedicated Management School Placement Office will help you in finding and preparing for placement.


How can I find out more information?

Firstly, the answers to many questions can be found on our ‘Studying at the School’ and ‘Current Students’ sections of the website. Navigate from or go directly to:


For information on the modules taught on the course, click on the links from the page:


For more information on careers in accounting and skills valued by employers in that market place:


We will hold open days throughout the year where we offer potential students the opportunity to talk to our staff and students informally, to answer any questions you may have. Register as a prospective student on our website and we will keep you updated on when those events will happen.


Lastly, if you have a specific question that the website or other sources cannot answer, please feel free to email either the admissions office: (for queries such as equivalent entry criteria) or for more general questions email