AAT Levels: Which AAT Qualification is Ideal for You?



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Get the AAT qualification you need to accelerate your finance career.


So, you’ve decided you’d like to pursue a career in accountancy. Congratulations, you’ve made a great choice!

AAT qualifications are a great way to get into accountancy or build on your existing skills and knowledge, but how do you know which level is right for you?

We’re here to help as we give you a guided tour of all AAT has to offer.


What is AAT?

AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) is the UK’s leading professional body offering skills-based accountancy and finance qualifications.

They have more than 130,000 members across 100 countries representing every level of the finance world from students all the way up to senior accounting professionals.  

AAT qualifications are internationally recognised and highly desirable to employers as they teach the practical skills and knowledge that are essential for a successful career in accountancy and finance.




What AAT qualifications are there?

AAT offer a number of courses in accounting. These are:

  1. Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2)
  2. Advanced Diploma in Accounting (Level 3)
  3. Professional Diploma in Accounting (Level 4)


They also offer two shorter bookkeeping qualifications for anyone just looking to develop that particular skill.


What are AAT qualifications equivalent to?

Each AAT qualification has an equivalent on the Qualifications and Credit Framework.

  • AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting - This Level 2 qualification is equivalent to GCSE level study.
  • AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting - This is a Level 3 qualification which is equivalent to an A Level.
  • AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting - This Level 4 qualification is equivalent to an HNC level qualification or the first year of a university degree.


So, which qualification is right for you?


AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting

This qualification has no formal entry requirements other than being over the age of 19.

It’s perfect for those who have no experience in accountancy or finance as it equips you with essential knowledge of bookkeeping, costing and using accounting software.

Throughout the course, you’ll study 5 units and have 5 exams which you’ll sit in-person at an approved AAT exam centre.

Studying this course will enable you to apply for entry-level roles such as Accounts Assistant.

If you need to start at Level 2 but know you want to progress to Level 3, you can enrol on a combined course which will save you money and allow you to move straight on to the next level.  



AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting

As this is a more advanced course, there are a few more entry requirements. You’ll need to be over 19 and have either completed the Foundation Certificate or have significant practical experience in accountancy and a strong understanding of double-entry bookkeeping. 

You'll study 6 units which cover more complex accounting practices including advanced bookkeeping, final accounts and ethics for accountants. You’ll have to sit 5 exams to pass the course, which will be sat in-person an AAT exam centre.

It’s perfect for those already working in accountancy who are looking to progress their career to the next stage as it will prepare you for mid-level roles such as Payroll Supervisor, and Assistant Accountant.

Once you complete this qualification, you’ll be a fully qualified bookkeeper too and can apply for AAT associate bookkeeping membership.

When signing up to study Level 3, you also have the option to study Level 4 too with a combined course. This will not only save you money but also time as you won't need to re-enrol. 




AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting

Very few people start off with the Professional Diploma as you’ll need to be comfortable with everything covered by the Foundation Certificate and the Advanced Diploma.

You’ll study 4 core units and pick your choice of 2 optional ones. It will give you the chance to get to grips with complex accountancy practices like drafting financial statements, managing budgets, and evaluating financial performance.

Like the other 2 AAT levels, you'll need to sit exams to pass the course. There's a total of 6 and once again they need to be sat in-person at an approved centre. 

Once you complete this course, you can then go down a number of paths including:

  1. Taking on a senior accounting role such as Senior Finance Officer or Senior Fund Accountant
  2. Setting up your own accountancy firm
  3. Joining a fast-track programme to become a Chartered Accountant.


You'll also be able to apply to become an AAT Full Member or Fellow Member once you have the necessary professional experience.


This should give you a good idea of the right level for you, but if you’re still unsure try using the AAT Skillcheck test which is designed to match you to your perfect starting point.  


Ready to get started with AAT? Have a look at our flexible online courses.


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