Accountant - Public finance


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 a public organisation to manage its finances so taxpayers know that their money is being spent properly.

You would work for organisations like:

  • Government departments
  • Local councils
  • Housing associations
  • Charities
  • The NHS
  • Universities

Your key tasks would be financial reporting and control. You’d need a logical and methodical approach.

You would:

  • Prepare financial records and statements
  • Estimate the cost of new projects
  • Review budgets and investments
  • Check spending and cash flows
  • Allocate money to projects and departments
  • Analyse the effectiveness of services to the public
  • Manage the organisation's financial systems
  • Do internal audits

You would also do presentations to managers and the board that runs the organisation to explain more about its financial situation and management.

It would be useful to know about public policy and business.

Working conditions


You would typically work standard office hours, Monday to Friday, although you may need to work later at busy times such as the end of the financial year. Part-time work and job sharing may be available.


You would be office-based, and the dress code is usually formal.

UK employment status



Self employed

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
  • Using computers
  • Solving mathematical problems
  • Budgeting
  • 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?

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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


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

Entry to an accounting degree requires a minimum of four Highers at BBBC or relevant HNC/HND or work-based qualifications.

You can also get in to the role by obtaining 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 (SCQF level 6).

With a degree in accountancy, economics, mathematics, business, finance or law you can get exemptions from some parts of the professional qualifications. 

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 subjects
  • ICT subjects

You will also need

Once in the job you must gain professional qualifications and register with one of the accountancy professional bodies.