Finance & accounting

Private practice accountant

Private practice accountants help people and businesses manage their money effectively.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £100,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

30 to 40

4%
Future employment

There will be 4% more Private practice accountant jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Your clients could range from small businesses to large companies or wealthy individuals. 

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • preparing financial statements, business plans and budget reports
  • producing accounts
  • auditing
  • managing clients’ spending and costs
  • filing tax returns and giving tax advice
  • forecasting profits and performance
  • helping businesses that may be in financial difficulty
  • investigating fraud (forensic accounting)

You’ll deal with all of these if you freelance or work for a small accountancy practice. 

In a large practice you’ll specialise in one area like tax or insolvency.

University

You could take an accountancy degree and then further professional training to qualify. Degrees include:

  • accountancy
  • accounting and finance
  • business and management

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above, including English and maths
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through an accountancy and taxation professional degree apprenticeship. This is at level 7, which is equivalent to a master's qualification.

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications like A levels for a degree apprenticeship

Other Routes

You'll usually need at least 2 A levels and 3 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths. You don't usually need a degree or maths A level.

You must qualify with one of the following professional bodies:

These each have different entry requirements for their courses and different routes to qualify. You can usually qualify more quickly if you have qualifications in business and finance or A levels.

£18,000 to £100,000

Starter salary: £18,000 to £27,000

Experienced salary: £28,000 to £50,000

These figures are a guide.

30 to 40

You’ll work standard office hours Monday to Friday, but may also work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. You may work longer hours at busy times like the end of the financial year.

You’ll be based in an office, but spend much of your time visiting clients.

If you've qualified with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), you can offer most accountancy services in private practice but you'll need to register as a 'member in practice' with CIMA.

With experience, you could specialise in an area like auditing or forensic accounting, or become a manager in a practice. You could then move into a partnership or become a finance director.

You could also become self-employed or set up your own company.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of economics and accounting
  • maths knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • administration skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
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