Training to become an accountant costs £21k

Accountancy, teaching and law are the most difficult professions to access without a university degree, with the cost of becoming a professional seen as a more significant barrier than ethnicity

British adults rank solicitor, accountant and teacher as the most challenging jobs to enter without a degree, according to a survey by Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) conducted by Opinium Research commissioned

The cost of breaking into these fields can prevent access to people who cannot afford the training. In the survey Britons estimated that the price tag on training to become a professional accountant is £21,356, a solicitor qualification will cost £27,432 and qualifying as a HR manager would set you back £15,657. These figures refer to the cost of undergraduate degrees, masters degrees and specific qualifications.

The survey, which included a sample of 2,005 adults, comes as thousands of young people across the UK are completing their UCAS applications ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.

The survey also showed that three-quarters (77%) ranked being a solicitor as very difficult to get into if you did not go to university, followed by teaching (69%), accountancy (64%) and investment banking (62%).

Many people also thought being from a lower-income background was a significant barrier to entering these professions. Nearly two thirds (59%) of people thought this would hold someone back from becoming a teacher, while 57% felt it would limit someone’s ability to become an engineer.

Just under half (47%) of respondents said a lower-income background could prevent someone becoming an accountant, with 18 to 34-year-olds more likely to agree with this compared to over-55s (49% and 36% respectively).

Although being from an ethnic minority background was considered less of a challenge to enter these career paths than coming from a low-income background, almost a third of people (31%) said being from an ethnic minority background would make becoming an investment banker difficult.

Other roles seen as harder for ethnic minority candidates to enter were solicitor (27%), business analyst (23%), HR manager (23%) and accountant (22%).

Mark Farrar, chief executive, AAT, said: ‘Going to university after completing school education remains a popular route, but it is not the only path available.

‘There are other ways of accessing the accountancy profession, such as taking a vocational route like an apprenticeship. This approach would not saddle you with debt, nor would it cost several thousand pounds of your own money.

‘Instead, you can earn while you learn - often in a junior accounting role supplemented by time to study accounting qualifications, the cost of which is frequently covered by your employer.

‘Apprenticeships add to the diversity of their workforce, too - and many large accounting practices feature highly in the UK Government’s social mobility index.’

The survey also found that despite the perceived high cost of training, accountancy is considered to be a well-paid career, with almost half (49%) of respondents describing it as such, while 13% said it was a rewarding job and one in 10 (9%) described it as stimulating work.

There are some negative stereotypes associated with the profession - 43% of people thought accountancy was serious, with over a quarter mentioning long hours (27%) and seeing it as stuffy (26%).

Farrar added: ‘AAT qualifications are open to all - meaning you can become a professional accountant irrespective of your background, class or ethnicity.

‘Despite common misconceptions, accountancy is not a profession dominated by men from higher-income backgrounds - two-thirds of AAT members and student members are female, while many thousands of our students are from lower income backgrounds and taking their first steps in an exciting career in finance.’

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