you've qualified.

It wasn't a walk in the park was it? The good news is that you now have one of the most valuable post-graduate qualifications going. You are an accountant! No wonder that there are nearly 164,000 students in the UK and the Republic of Ireland studying for one of the seven accountancy qualifications. 

Collectively, the number of students studying for their ICAEW, CAI, and ICAS qualification is expanding by about 6% a year, according to the latest stats with almost 21,000 people studying for ICAEW alone.  The growing popularity of these qualification is a mark of the value of newly qualified accountants.  Students want to be in your shoes!

They know your skill set is in high demand, and highly transferable. Our 'what type of accountant are you' quiz can help point you in the right direction.

should I work in practice or industry?

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you stay in practice or shift into industry. 

Industry could offer more money if you move into financial services.[1]   And a move to industry will allow you to specialise in a way that’s unthinkable in practice.  There’s a fundamental shift in people’s perception of you though. 

Do you want to be responsible for bringing in fees and have a clear career path to manager and, potentially, partner?  Or do you want to be a member of the back office – a drain on the firm’s P&L.  That’s going to affect how your boss relates to you and how much value you can add.

should I move out of the private sector?

The second question is whether or not to move out of the private sector.  The third sector typically has a better work life balance than industry (and, certainly practice). 

Of course, the pay’s not going to be the same as it might be at a bank.  But you can work for an organisation and be involved in an area that you are genuinely passionate about.  And the job security is likely to be excellent.

should I try to move into the big 4?

The third decision is, if you want to stay in practice – which will, perhaps, carry more prestige than an accountancy job in industry in some people’s eyes, but will probably mean more hours – do you want to move to a different firm? 

Clearly, the Big 4 are a cut above the rest in terms of the sorts of business you will be working with (more blue-chip clients and most of the companies in the FTSE 350).  But in smaller firms you will get to take ownership of clients much earlier.  The company culture will probably be more relaxed, too.

If you’re an NQ accountant looking for a new role, have a look at our newly qualified accountant jobs and get in touch with one of our consultants, or take our quiz to find out which specialism you may be best suited to.