What does it mean to be a ‘qualified’ accountant?
A qualified accountant is someone who has completed the professional examinations of one of the accounting institutes. These are:
Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI);
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA);
The Association of International Accountants (AIA);
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA);
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA);
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW); and
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).
Your choice of institute will usually be dictated by your training firm / employer.
What does a qualified accountant do?
The career options for a qualified accountant are extremely varied. If you choose to work in practice (i.e. in an accounting firm) 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, pleased visit the websites of local and international accounting firms.
The majority of qualified accountants work outside of practice: in industry, financial services and the public and voluntary sectors. They are typically employed as financial or management accountants, internal auditors and / or in senior management roles.
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. For example, with respect to Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI):
If you enter into a training contract with an employer having completed the Accounting degree at Queen’s, and having achieved the requisite exemptions (see below), you must complete the final two levels of CAI’s professional examinations (CAP2 and FAE) (2 years of classes and examinations) while working for the firm for 3.5 years (i.e. you must pass the examinations and gain the relevant work experience);
If you enter into a training contract with an employer with a ‘non-relevant’ degree (i.e. in a subject other than Accounting), you must complete all three levels of CAI’s professional examinations (CAP1, CAP2 and FAE) (3 years of classes and examinations) while working for the employer for 3.5 years (i.e. you must pass the examinations and gain the relevant work experience);
If after completing the Accounting degree you decide to complete a recognised MSc in accounting (typically a 1-year programme), you only have to complete the final level of CAI’s professional examinations (FAE) while working for the employer for 3 years.
What exemptions will I have from professional exams with a BSc Accounting from Queen’s?
The exemptions available to Queen’s students depend upon the Accounting degree (BSc Accounting, BSc Accounting with a Modern Language or BSc Economics and Accounting) and the accounting institute whose professional examinations are being taken. For example, the BSc Accounting at Queen’s attracts the maximum exemptions available for any undergraduate degree from the professional examinations of Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI), subject to meeting specified criteria. In broad terms, this will save one year of classes and examinations. Exemptions are also available from the professional examinations of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Association of International Accountants (AIA), the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
Full details of the exemptions available from each of the accounting institutes are available by clicking here.
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, BSc Accounting with a Modern Language or BSc Economics and Accounting. While you should be comfortable with numbers (as evidenced by at least GCSE Grade B in Mathematics), you do not need to have studied A-level Mathematics. Other important attributes for accountants include: strong written and verbal communication skills, motivation, good time management, an ability to work in effectively in teams and an interest in business.
What if I choose not to do the professional exams?
While a majority of students go on to complete the professional examinations, 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. The Careers Service, based in the Student Guidance Centre at Queen’s, is there to help and advise you on the 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 undertake a placement year this can normally be facilitated. More commonly, students on these two degrees complete summer placements with local, national and international employers as an alternative to a full placement 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 with an accounting firm or other financial institution. In either case our dedicated Queen’s Management School Placement Office will assist you in finding a placement and preparing for it.
How can I find out more information?
Queen’s hold open days throughout the year to offer prospective students the opportunity to talk to our staff and students and to answer any questions you may have. If you register as a prospective student on our website by clicking here, we will keep you updated on when those events will take place.
If you have a specific question that the website or other sources cannot answer, please email either: the admissions office with queries such as equivalent entry criteria firstname.lastname@example.org; or for more general questions email email@example.com.
How can I apply?
Please follow through to the UCAS website and apply online under ‘Undergraduate’.