Plus Accounting were recently asked to speak at the Career’s Week at Varndean College and I spoke about the apprenticeship route that I am taking in order to become a fully qualified, chartered accountant.

I joined Plus Accounting in September 2017 as a trainee accounts apprentice after finishing college at BHASVIC, where I studied Maths, Accounting and Business.

During my time at BHASVIC I decided that university wasn’t for me and that the advantages of doing an apprenticeship were much more appealing. After doing some research about an accounting apprenticeship I realised that I could get qualified in the same timeframe as I would going to university. However, taking the apprentice route meant I would be earning a good salary and gaining practical experience, something that I wouldn’t be doing at university.

When I had a clear idea of the A-Level grades I was likely to achieve I decided to do some research on what local firms were out there and I ended up emailing Plus Accounting. After a couple of interviews and emails I was delighted to be offered a position and was enrolled onto the ICAEW trailblazer apprenticeship scheme. This scheme is fairly new and only introduced in 2016, it includes a mixture of practical work experience, exams and online skills focus sessions.

So, what exams will I have to do over my apprenticeship? There are 15 exams in total across 3 different levels, there are 6 certificate level exams, 6 professional level exams and 3 advanced level exams. The estimated duration of each level is 18 months, so if everything goes to plan I could become a chartered accountant in just 4 and a half years without even going to university!

To study for these exams, I am given 5 hours per week to watch live online lectures. During these lectures I am part of a virtual class, there is a webcam feed of a tutor on the screen who talks us through our study materials and me and my class mates can all fire questions at them through the chat panel.

During my apprenticeship, I will also have to complete a set of online skills focus sessions. These are skills that you would expect to gain whilst at university, making sure you don’t miss out on vital career skills. ICAEW have come up with various topics to improve you as an employee, including communication, leadership and analysis.

A good feature of the trailblazer apprenticeship is that everyone is assigned their very own talent coach. These talent coaches are there to guide you through every aspect of your apprenticeship, career and even personal life. They guide you through your skills focus sessions and exams and also have meetings with you to see how your job is going.

Apprentice to Accountant | Stanley Fowler

My first 18 months as an accounts apprentice is expected to look like this; I will be expected to complete a skills focus session every month and an exam every few months, meaning it is not too pressured. So far I have passed both my accounting and assurance exam so I am well on my way to gaining my certificate level.

One of my ambitions is to become a successful qualified accountant within 4 years. I also aim for steady progression within the firm, as I would have been working here since I was 18 I will be familiar with how the business works, the staff and the clients by the time I am qualified and this will hopefully give me a great chance of moving up within the business. I have recently started bookkeeping for two McDonalds franchises in Tunbridge Wells, so I am already getting more responsibility. I also aim to be financially independent, I won’t have a big student loan to pay off like others and will have been earning a decent salary since 18.

Author: Stanley Fowler

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