Accountant - Private practice

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Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would help people and businesses manage their money effectively.

You’d provide accountancy services for your clients. These could be small businesses, large companies or wealthy individuals.

Your duties would include handling tax, carrying out audits and advising clients on how to improve their business finances.

You would:

  • Prepare financial statements, business plans and budget reports
  • Produce annual and monthly accounts
  • Carry out independent audits of company accounts
  • Manage clients’ spending, costs, credit, payroll and investments
  • File tax returns and provide tax advice
  • Forecast future profits and financial performance
  • Help businesses that may be in financial difficulties
  • Deal with insolvencies
  • Advise companies on improving their financial systems and profitability
  • Find and prevent fraud (forensic accounting)

If you work freelance or for a small accountancy practice you might do all of these tasks. In a larger practice you might specialise in one area, such as tax or insolvency.

You would need to be able to explain technical financial information clearly to non-accountants and to work with people at all levels.

Understanding the business environment would be important. You would also have to be discreet, as you’d be dealing with confidential information.

Working conditions

Hours

In a full-time job you would normally work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. You may work longer hours at busy times, such as at the end of the financial year. Part-time hours and temporary contract work may be available.

Environment

You would be based at an office, but would spend much of your time visiting clients.

Travel

You would spend much of your time visiting clients. If you worked for a large accountancy practice, this could mean travelling all over the UK.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Explaining things
  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Accuracy
  • Solving mathematical problems
  • Researching and investigating
  • Planning and organising
  • Time management
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

Most entrants have a degree (SCQF level 9/10).

To enter an accounting degree requires a minimum of four Highers at BBBC or relevant HNC/D or work-based qualifications. With a degree in accountancy, economics, mathematics, business, finance or law you can get exemptions from some parts of the professional qualifications.

You may also enter through a work-based qualifications such as a Modern Apprenticeship in Accountancy (SCQF level 5/6/8).

Some companies run accountancy trainee programmes; entry requires qualifications at SCQF levels 4 to 6 to include at least three Highers.

Some accountants start their careers as Accounting technicians.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses and employers)
  • Maths (required by many courses and employers)
  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Statistics
  • Business
  • ICT subjects

You will also need

Once in the job you will need to gain professional qualifications from a recognised professional body.

If you want to work as a registered company auditor, you must hold an audit qualification from a Recognised Qualifying Body (RQB).