Accounting Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships

Are you organised? Good with numbers? And enjoy keeping finances in check? Does the idea of a stable career with great pay and unlimited opportunities for growth fill you with excitement? If so, you’re in for a treat.

Accounting Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships

Are you organised? Good with numbers? And enjoy keeping finances in check? Does the idea of a stable career with great pay and unlimited opportunities for growth fill you with excitement? If so, you’re in for a treat.

Every business needs an accountant - no matter what type of business it is. Accountants are in charge of preparing a company’s financial reports. They send invoices, process payroll, carry out audits, file tax returns… you name it.

Not only that - they’re advisors too. So if a company’s struggling to make profits, they’re the ones who’ll turn the situation around and make sure the business is raking in those pound signs again.

Sound exciting? Keep reading to discover what accounting is, how an apprenticeship in this industry works, and why you should do one.

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Can you get an apprenticeship in accounting?

Of course you can! An apprenticeship in accounting is an opportunity to earn while you learn the trade. It is also an opportunity to develop on-the-job skills. A fully qualified higher apprentice will have 4-5 years of experience working alongside industry experts. Qualified apprentices are sought after employees.

Before we dive deeper into the topic, let’s pin down exactly what accounting means. Simply put, accountancy refers to money, management and business, and how all these come together in a professional environment.

What does an accounting apprentice do?

Accountants analyse financial data for a range of purposes within a business. Meaning? They help companies understand their finances so they can make good decisions in the future.

As an accounts apprentice, you’ll get to experience different areas of the business. You’ll learn about invoicing, payroll and taxes. You’ll also have general admin tasks like data entry. Once you’re fully qualified, expect to prepare company accounts and write up financial reports and evaluations.

Types of accounting

There are FOUR main types of accounting:


Bookkeepers are responsible for all the financial transactions and information belonging to a business. Which is why they’re SO important. They ensure that financial information has been gathered correctly. That’s serious stuff.

Financial accounting

Financial accounting focuses on three main statements: income statement, balance sheet and cash flow. It’s prepared for the company, its lenders, financial analysts and other external stakeholders.

Managerial accounting

Managerial accounting contains strategic information that’s top secret to competitors. It’s more detailed than financial accounting and looks into topics like pricing, competition, marginality and budgeting.

Tax accounting

Tax accounting determines how much tax a company has to pay. It’s pretty technical and varies for different legislations around the world.

How do accounting apprenticeships work?

Accounting apprenticeships allow you to fast-track up the career ladder. You’ll combine work and study, gaining practical experience and industry-recognised qualifications - all at the same time.

Not bad, eh?

As an accounts apprentice, you’ll typically spend four days a week working for your employer and one day studying at a college or training provider.

Want to know the best part? You’ll get paid a full-time wage, so you can enjoy your first taste of financial freedom too. So those shoes you’ve been eyeing up for ages could be yours before you know it. Or, perhaps you’re saving up for your future.

There are tons of accounting apprenticeships to choose from, which might feel a little daunting. To get you started, here are a few that made our Best Apprentice Employers table. It’s based on thousands of honest reviews left by apprentices who have been in your shoes…

Hear what this accounting apprentice thought about their programme at PwC.

"The structure of the programme is very clear. There is a clear split between work and study, with the relevant university handling the academics and the company dealing with the placement. Within the company there is a very clear career progression." Audit Intern/Trainee, PwC


Apprenticeship levels

Accounting apprenticeships come in four levels: Level 2 (Intermediate), Level 3 (Advanced), Level 4/5 (Higher) and Degree Apprenticeships.

As a school leaver, you can do a level 2, level 3, level 4/5 or degree apprenticeship in accounting. You can also do an ACCA, AAT or a CIMA accounting apprenticeship as well as an apprenticeship specifically in bookkeeping.

Each level has its own entry requirements. Read about them below…

Level 2 accounting apprenticeships

Level 2 apprenticeships are great if you want to start your career in accounting.

As the first step on the apprenticeship ladder, you’ll need to be at least 16 years old and have 3 GCSEs graded 9 to 4 (A* to C) in Maths and English, relevant work experience or a traineeship in accounting to apply.

So what does a level 2 accounts apprentice actually do?

They work as accounts assistants. You’ll provide admin support to the team, printing and filing paperwork. Other duties include sending invoices and chasing late payments. The more experienced you become, the more responsibilities you’ll have.

Level 3 accounting apprenticeships

Level 3 apprenticeships are a step up from level 2 apprenticeships. They allow you to put everything you’ve learnt as an accounts apprentice into practice and develop more skills. To apply, you’ll need to have completed a level 2 apprenticeship or achieved 5 GCSEs. Once you’ve finished your programme, you’ll earn qualifications equivalent to 2 A-Levels.

Level 3 apprentices work as assistant accountants. Your responsibilities will range from budgeting and fact-checking to preparing VAT returns and supporting the team with the month-end. There’s lots to take in. But at least you’re one step closer to becoming a qualified accountant.

"I have been really enjoying each day as I am constantly learning and I can see the progression I am making. I also think it has helped with self confidence as I’ve had to meet lots of new people. I attended an introduction day at our head office and got to meet others in my position which I found fun and helpful." Level 3 Accounting Apprentice at Savills

Level 4/5 accounting apprenticeships

Level 4/5 accounting apprenticeships are equivalent to a foundation degree. They’re great if you have 2 A-Levels or a level 3 apprenticeship in accounting and want to gain higher qualifications.

These apprenticeships bring you one step closer to becoming an accountant. You’ll get to draft financial statements and learn how to audit your own accounts. That’s pretty awesome if you ask us.

A level 4/5 apprenticeship is a brilliant way to progress in your career and can even help you qualify for accounting degree apprenticeships.

Accounting degree apprenticeships

Did you know that you can earn a degree debt free? Pretty cool, right? Degree apprenticeships give you the best of both worlds. You’ll work for an employer, study towards a university degree AND get paid for it.

Know what that means? By the time you finish your studies, you’ll have a degree and 3 - 4 years of experience under your belt. That’s gold for employers. So if you want to get your CV to the top of the pile and bag your dream role, a degree apprenticeship is the way forward.

As a degree apprentice, you’ll save thousands of pounds on tuition fees as your employer, along with the government, will cover these for you.

"I have the chance to gain a head-start in the working world while also completing a degree. After I finish the programme, I will have four years of experience and in-depth knowledge of working for EY." Izzy Law, Auditor and Data Analyst at EY

How long is an accounting apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships vary in length depending on your industry experience.

For instance, if you’re doing a level 2 finance apprenticeship with Aldi, your programme will take around 18 months to complete.

However, if you’re a higher or degree level apprentice at Mazars LLP, you’re looking at 1 - 5 years of training.

How much do you get paid for an accounting apprenticeship?

As an apprentice, you’ll get paid for your normal working hours and any training that’s part of your programme (including Maths and English courses that you might have to take during your apprenticeship).

While your salary depends on your apprenticeship level, you’ll still get paid the National Minimum Wage. Let’s explore your potential starting salary at each level…

  • Level 2 accounting apprenticeships (Credit controller / Finance assistant / Junior clerk): £10,000 - £14,000 per year

  • Level 3 accounting apprenticeships (Assistant accountant / Advanced credit controller): £11,000 - £16,000 per year

  • Level 4/5 accounting apprenticeships (Trainee tax advisor / Internal audit practitioner): £12,000 - £17,000 per year

  • Level 6/7 accounting apprenticeships (Accounts manager / Accounts technician): £14,000 - £18,000 per year

Each company that offer these schemes will have its own unique starting salaries, so the above is just a guide. Some will pay less, but many will pay more!

Is it hard to get an accounting apprenticeship?

Accountancy is more than just recording numbers. As an accountant, you’ll need to have a firm understanding of the financial world and how it operates. The application process can be tough, but don’t worry. We’re here to help you ace it. To get onto an accounting apprenticeship, you’ll typically need to:

These tests are situational and numerical. Situational as they measure your behaviour and how you’d react in certain situations at work. And numerical because, well, accountants are required to interpret data and statistics. It’s a given, really.

If you’re a higher-level apprentice, you’ll be expected to know terms like appreciation, accruals, depreciation and double-entry accounting and use them interchangeably. You’ll need to be an excellent communicator too, as you’ll spend lots of time chatting to clients and analysing financial statements.

Accounting is one of the most difficult business degrees out there and needs serious preparation, especially if you’re aiming to get a professional certification such as an ACCA, CPA, CA, CFA. These will prepare you for some of the largest financial institutions on the planet like Deloitte and KPMG.


What is an ACCA accounting qualification?

ACCA is a leading international accoutancy body and stands for Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. An ACCA apprenticeship will develop your strategic thinking and technical skills. Not only that. It shows employers you’re prepared for the role and can add value to their business.

ACCA offers school leavers a non-university route into professional accountancy. It’s a prestigious and internationally recognised work/study programme that allows you to earn a salary just like other accounting apprenticeships.

If you’ve completed a level 3 apprenticeship, an ACCA apprenticeship is a great option for you, especially if you want to become a chartered accountant. If you don’t have any experience, you can study for ACCA’s Foundation level qualification. There are three main parts to an ACCA apprenticeship programme:

  • 3 years of work experience

  • A module on professional ethics

  • Accounting exams

For more information on ACCA accounting apprenticeships, visit

How do I get an AAT apprenticeship?

AAT stands for the Association of Accounting Technicians and is the UK’s best professional membership body for accountants. If you’re just starting out in accounting, an AAT apprenticeship is the one for you. AAT gives you much broader skills than a normal accounting apprenticeship and boosts your employment prospects. Massively.

To get an AAT apprenticeship, you need to:

  • Be over the age of 16

  • Not in full-time education

  • Lived in the UK or European Economic Area (EEA) for three or more years

So what makes an AAT apprenticeship so special? Well, it gives you…

  • The ability to negotiate

  • An understanding of business operations

  • Knowledge of how to become an effective entrepreneur

  • Numerical and quantitative skills

AAT’s apprenticeships train school leavers to work in accountancy firms. Employers trust AAT as they know their apprentices have the practical skills they need for their businesses.

What do you think? Up for giving it a go?

Before you decide, see what one apprentice thought about their level 4 AAT at Sage…

"I have not only learnt new skills but I have developed many skills too, both through my studies and in the workplace. I am currently studying my Level 4 AAT after successfully completing my AAT Level 3 qualification. I have also carried out many internal training courses which has allowed me to develop and learn new skills." Master Data Apprentice & Level 4 Accounting Apprentice at Sage

Want to know what jobs you can do with an AAT qualification? Watch this video...


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