How to Become an Accountant Without a Degree

How to Become an Accountant Without a Degree


Accountancy is one of the most popular professions in the UK, and there are several ways to get into it. In fact, contrary to popular belief, a university degree isn’t even needed. In this post, we discuss the different ways to become an accountant in the UK.

Table of contents:

What qualifications do you need to be an accountant in the UK?

   - How to become an accountant without A-levels

   - How to become an accountant without a degree

The different accountancy qualifications in the UK

What qualifications do you need to be an accountant in the UK?

If you do not have a degree or wish to study at university, you’ll be pleased to know that you do not necessarily need any qualifications to be an Accountant. There are several other ways to become an Accountant without a degree, which we will discuss further in this post.

- How to become an accountant without A-levels

You do not need to have taken specific BTECs or A-levels to become an accountant, so if you don’t have the appropriate A-levels you need not worry.

However, if you have not yet taken your A-levels, some A-levels may be more advantageous than others for your career. These include:

  • A-level maths

  • A-level economics

  • BTEC business studies

In addition to this, employers also look for candidates with competency in English and Maths, and a good head for numbers.

- How to become an accountant without a degree

Even though you don’t necessarily need a degree to become an accountant, in some areas it is desirable, so bear this in mind.

Photo credit: 9dream studio / Shutterstock

The different accountancy qualifications in the UK

What qualifications are needed to be an accountant? There are several different qualifications you can study to become an accredited accountant. For most jobs, AAT is the minimum level of qualification required. Once you’ve passed this level, you can choose to specialise according to the area of accountancy you would like to work in by studying higher-level qualifications including ACA, ACCA or CIMA.

  • AAT Qualifications

Association of Accounting Technicians qualifications are the minimum you will need to get into a career in accountancy. AAT qualifications begin with the basics and go all the way up to a level 4 “professional” qualification, which is the equivalent of studying at university for one year.

If you go on to complete the level 4 qualification, you go on to become a professional member and use the letters ‘MAAT’ in your name. You will also find that new doors are open to you and it is highly recognised among employers.

  • AAT Level 2 Foundation Certificate

This qualification is the perfect starting point for those wishing to begin a career in accounting, as well as those with working experience but without any qualification to their name.

As a result, this certificate is good if you have just entered or are hoping to enter a junior or trainee accounts role, as it develops and showcases fundamental skills. 

  • AAT Level 3 Advanced Diploma

Following AAT Level 2, the next step is the Level 3 Advanced Diploma, which builds on knowledge learnt previously. It's worth noting that if you have another accounting qualification that equips you with basic knowledge that is covered at Level 2, then you can begin at this level rather than that one. If you already work in the industry in a role such as Senior Accounts Clerk and/or have working knowledge of manual accounts and double entry principles, that will also prepare you to begin at this level. 



  • AAT Level 4 Professional Diploma

The third and final level of AAT is the Professional Diploma. Just like the previous two levels, this diploma builds on the knowledge learned at levels 2 and 3. In this course, you can choose two optional specialist units. You will also demonstrate your understanding through a project wherein you apply what you have learned through levels 1 to 4. 

  • ACCA

The ACCA (Association of Chartered Accountants) qualification is recognised by employers all around the globe, covering everything from risk and ethics, to advanced taxation. As a result, this qualification gives you a more advanced understanding of accountancy than AAT does, meaning it is ideal for accountants who want to progress into the upper levels of financial accounting. Completion of the qualification will allow you to join the ACCA as a Chartered Accountant.

The qualification can be completed as part of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, equipping each individual with the advanced skills and knowledge to become a Personal Banker or Financial Analyst.

  • CIMA

If you would like to break into management accountancy, you will need a CIMA (Certified Institute of Management Accountants) qualification. CIMA comes in a range of levels, spanning from the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting to the CIMA Professional Qualification, which itself has three levels: Operational, Management and Strategic.

A qualification from the largest professional body of management accountants will ensure you are equipped for expert management and strategic roles such as Finance Analyst and Financial Director.


As you can see, there are a wide range of accounting qualifications that enable you to become an accountant in the UK. After taking the baseline AAT qualification, you may choose to focus on a specific area within accounting, using this interest to find your dream job. Be sure to take a look through the accounting and finance courses available at The Knowledge Academy to take your career further. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.


Feature image credit: wrangler / Shutterstock


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