Securing professional qualifications is important in any industry and accountancy is no different. There are a number of industry bodies that offer courses that could help progress your career and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is one of the most respected in the world. 

The ACCA was established in 1904 and now has approximately 200,000 fully qualified members and near 500,000 students worldwide. Seen as the gold standard in accounting, the organisation's opinion and input is sought after by governments, academic institutions and the media globally. 

Before beginning the ACCA Qualification, it’s important that applicants understand what the course is likely to entail. 
 

About the course

The ACCA Qualification encompasses a minimum of five exams (with an additional nine being eligible for exemption) alongside three years of professional experience in a relevant role. In addition, students must also complete a professional ethics module before they can become an ACCA member. As part of the practical work undertaken, individuals will need to demonstrate a minimum of 13 performance objectives, including business and personal management skills, as well as a high level of professionalism. 

There is no time limit for the ACCA Qualification as a whole, but students must complete all their professional exams within seven years. Generally speaking, the course can be completed in three to four years. Your starting point on the course will depend on your current level of experience and qualifications and students should also be aware that a registration and annual subscription fee are required, alongside exam entry fees. It is, however, possible that your employer may be willing to subsidise these costs. 
 

Benefits

Studying for a professional qualification is a great way of gaining a competitive edge over your peers and shows prospective employers your passion and dedication to the industry. While studying for the ACCA Qualification, individuals will also receive the following resources to help with the course: 

• Syllabuses and study guides
• Past exam papers
• 'Student Accountant' digital magazine
• Networking opportunities 
• Face to face events
• Support in finding relevant work experience.

Once a qualified member of the ACCA, a number of other benefits will also be open to you. Members are granted access to a global support network, which could increase your earning potential and provide more international mobility when compared to those who have not achieved the ACCA Qualification. It is also a great way of staying up to date with changes in the accountancy profession and even influencing the industry’s future. ACCA members are invited to stand for Council and, if successful, could help shape the profession in years to come. 
 

Balancing work and study

Individuals that are already employed may find it difficult to balance study alongside a full-time job. Fortunately, there are a number of different options available to provide students with some level of flexibility. As well as the full-time course, there are part-time day and evening courses, weekend courses and distance learning options. 

ACCA-X is an online learning programme developed by ACCA, edX and Epigeum, which gives students the opportunity to learn wherever they are and whenever they need to. Some courses are available free-of-charge and students will receive support from online tutors in order to help them improve their financial knowledge. For individuals in full-time employment, the flexibility of the ACCA Qualification offers them a better chance of juggling work and study. 

Trying to manage both a full-time job as well as studying can be difficult, here are a few tips to help you juggle your workload like a pro.

Make the most out of your commute - with the average commute time in the UK around 54 minutes, this time can be utilised wisely. If possible download audio versions of your textbook so you can listen to them on the way into work or bring course material with you so that you can review on the train - don't do this if you drive of course.

Speak with management - make sure that your boss is well aware of your availability. Whether you work full-time or part-time make management aware of lectures, seminars, coursework or exam deadlines that may impact your work - try and plan this as far in advance as possible. Together you should be able to come up with a solution that works for you both.

Use your holiday to study - depending on your job, you'll have different amounts of holiday you're able to take during the year. Use this time wisely to get more studying than you would be able during work, it's important to make sure that you also do take time off to recharge - exhaustion and fatigue are not good for work, study or your general wellbeing.

Choose your sacrifice carefully - working and studying is a challenge and unfortunately, something is going to have to be sacrificed. When deciding what to give up, try and focus on something that will only affect you such as watching Netflix rather than spending time with family and friends - this is vital to a healthy work-life balance.

Hopefully we've been able to convince you, however, if you’re still unsure as to whether the ACCA Qualification is right for your career development, then why not pop into one of our accountancy and finance offices to see if we can advise you on your next move.

For more information on not only accounting and finance jobs but a range of other sectors, check out our career hub. You'll find career hints, tips and advice from job interviews to helpful video tutorials.