Becoming an accountant with ICAS typically takes five years, and while there’s no previous business or accountancy knowledge required, you will need strong Higher or A-Level results to be considered for entry.
This qualification is another one that is ranked at the same level as a master’s degree and its syllabus is organised to cover everything from essential to advanced principles of accounting and business.
To complete the qualification, you’ll need 450 days of practical experience, and you’ll do this by working with an ICAS-authorised employer – earning a competitive salary while you learn.
What skills does an Accountant need?
Accountants are directly responsible for the financial affairs of their employers, so together with the right qualifications, you must have the essential skills to suitably carry out the role.
Working as an Accountant means managing a lot of responsibility, and naturally, it also means managing that responsibility while you’re already busy.
To help avoid any unnecessary mistakes, you should have a personalised and detail-oriented system to keep track of your tasks.
Making use of the tools available to you and staying highly organised for the short-term and long-term will lead to success in your role.
Your organisational tools might be in the form of Excel spreadsheets, electronic calendars, and reminders, or perhaps even a few good old fashioned Post-It notes. Whatever the case – whatever your system – just make sure it works for you and your business.
Great time management skills tie in with strong organisational skills.
A system for managing your workload is only effective if you know how to budget your time as well as you can budget the finances.
As an accountant, you’ll need to manage and prioritise several tasks at once and ensure that you’re completing everything by your deadlines.
As an accounting professional, you’re likely to come across various forms of data and information in a typical day. It’s important to be able to understand that financial data and analyse the relationship between that information, the overall organisation, and the departments within it.
You should be able to think critically – as well as creatively – leveraging your observation and problem-solving skills to ensure that you’re interpreting data effectively. This minimises potential risks to your organisation and encourages sound financial decisions.
Accounting is a dynamic and IT-focused industry, and you need to be able to adapt quickly to be at an advantage.
Employers are in search of individuals who are prepared to use their accounting skills in new and various ways; favouring those who are informed about evolving industry changes and ahead of the curve when it comes to industry advancements.
An adaptable accountant will anticipate shifting environments, remain calm under stressful circumstances, and take on challenging workloads when necessary.
While accountancy is numbers-driven and computer-oriented, communicating effectively is a big part of being an accountant.
During working hours, you won’t always be sat in front of your computer crunching numbers. You’ll also need to attend meetings, interact with colleagues, inform management on key updates and issues, and potentially meet with clients.
The point of accounting data is to communicate meaningful information, allowing management to make thoughtful and well-rounded decisions. So, practised and well-tuned interpersonal skills are useful to have when the numbers can’t speak for themselves.