Good with numbers? Why you don’t need a degree to be an accountant

Good with numbers? Why you don’t need a degree to be an accountant

Not sure uni is for you – and want a career with real prospects that you can start right now? Meet Tom Johnson, 19, a trainee auditor working at the global accountancy firm Mazars

EARN WHILE YOU LEARN WITH WORK-BASED TRAINING

Not sure uni is for you – but want a career with real prospects that you can start right now? Meet Tom Johnson, 19, a trainee auditor working at the global accountancy firm Mazars

Did you always want to do auditing?

“Sort of, yes! Both my uncles were businessmen running their own businesses and I always found what they did absolutely fascinating. It also made me want to start earning money as soon as possible – so I started working part-time when I was 14. While I was still at school I also completed two work experience placements at accountancy firms, and by the end of the second placement I knew for sure that I wanted to be an accountant – the sooner the better!"

What do you do?

“My job title is ‘corporate assistant’ and I work in the insurance audit sector at Mazars. This means I work with different insurance companies, carrying out audits on their finances – so checking all the accounts are correct and as they should be. The work varies hugely, depending on the size of the company that I’m auditing. This makes it very interesting and also very challenging – which I love. For every job I am supervised by a senior colleague who answers any questions I have.”  

Best bits?

“Probably the fact that I work with such high profile clients – I get to see how different areas of massive companies work. 

“I also love the fact that when it’s not busy in the audit department, I can work in other areas of the company. In the past year I’ve worked with the corporate finance, tax, financial planning and insolvency teams. This has really helped to expand my accounting knowledge – and means that if I ever decide to leave the audit sector I’ll have some good experience in other areas.”

Did you go to university?

"No, I didn’t. After my A-levels – I studied geography, business and sport – I decided university wasn’t for me. I knew I wanted to do take the AAT [Association of Accounting Technicians] school-leaver route into accounting instead. AAT is a training qualification where you earn while you learn – a bit like an apprenticeship. You get to see how the financial side of a business works as well as other areas like marketing and inventory. I loved it.” 

Top tips for applications?

“Most accountancy firms recruit once a year so make sure you get your application in as soon as possible. If you’re in your last year of sixth form or college, then start applying before Christmas for the following September’s intake. That way you’ve got time to look for other positions if you’re unsuccessful with your applications." 

Any interview advice?

“Once you get an interview – prepare fully! Practise the questions you’re likely to be asked, with your friends and family. Research the role and the company – look at how many offices they have nationally and globally, how many people they employ, what services they offer their clients. Always come armed with questions too. You need to show that you are interested and enthusiastic about joining the firm.”

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