5 reasons to do an AAT apprenticeship

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It can be tough to find the money to fund your studies, especially in a recession. Choosing an apprenticeship where you work and earn money while you learn is one way to avoid getting into debt and make ends meet more easily during your studies.

But the ability to earn while you learn is not the only reason why becoming an apprentice could prove the best way to start – or develop – your career in accountancy.

Here, we highlight five of the main benefits of choosing an AAT apprenticeship.

1. You come out with a top-class qualification

AAT qualifications are internationally recognised accounting qualifications that are trusted by employers in the UK and beyond.

And by signing up to an AAT apprenticeship rather than a university degree course, you can reach a high level of competency more quickly – as well as with a lot less debt.

If you want to take your studies further, the AAT qualifications you gain during your apprenticeship can also help you to move up the ladder faster; completing the AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting gives you generous exemptions when it comes to becoming a chartered accountant, for example.

“Qualifications count for a lot,” says CIMA-qualified management accountant and former AAT apprentice Wendy Haigh. “And doing an AAT apprenticeship is a good way of getting qualified without having to borrow money to do so.”

2. You get on-the-job experience

Lack of work experience is one of the main problems students complain about when trying to find their first jobs. By doing an apprenticeship, you gain real-world workplace experience at the same time as you study, which can help you find a more interesting – and potentially better-paid – job when it’s time to move on.

Having this hands-on approach can also make it easier to understand the topics you’re studying in the classroom.

“I started in an accounts assistant role, and I remember seeing links between what I was studying and what I was being asked to do at work, especially as I moved up the AAT levels,” says Haigh, who lives in Preston, Lancashire. If you’re lucky, you could also meet influential mentors who will help to shape your future career.

3. You are probably eligible to do an AAT apprenticeship

The eligibility criteria to do an apprenticeship alongside an AAT qualification is deliberately relaxed to enable as many people as possible to access an opportunity of this kind.

There’s no upper age limit. The only rules are that you must:

  • Be over 16
  • Not be in full-time education
  • Have lived in the UK or European Economic Area (EEA) for at least the last three years

What’s more, the good news for anyone keen to start an AAT apprenticeship at the moment is that many employers are looking to apprentices as a way to bridge skills gaps at their organisations, so there are plenty of opportunities available.

4. You don’t have to pay any tuition fees

Apprenticeships are funded from contributions made by the government and your employer, so you don’t have to take out any student loans or fork out for tuition fees.

“My employer covered the cost of my course and also allowed me a half day off every week to go to the local college, where I had classes from 1pm to 9pm,” Haigh adds. “In that situation, I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t take the opportunity to do it.”

If you’re between the ages of 16 and 24 and are leaving care, you may also be given a £1,000 bursary payment to support you in the first year of your apprenticeship. You will, however, need to cover day-to-day expenses such as your lunch and the cost of travelling to and from your place of work.

5. You earn money from day one

Last but certainly not least in this list – especially given the current economic backdrop – is the fact that you can start earning money as soon as you start work as an AAT apprentice. How much you earn will depend on your employer but is also likely to be influenced by factors such as your age and level of experience.

According to current government guidelines, companies must pay apprentices at least £4.81 if they are aged under 19 or are in the first year of the apprenticeship. After that, the minimum rate of pay increases. So, a 23-year-old apprentice with at least one year under his or her belt should be on an hourly rate of £9.50 or more.

You should also qualify for benefits such as holiday leave and sick pay – as well as time off to complete your studies.

In summary

Completing an AAT apprenticeship will furnish you with the qualifications, skills, and experience you need to build a successful career as a finance professional.

If you want to continue your career in accounting, for example, our 2021 salary survey suggests you could expect to earn around £24,500 once you have your AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting qualification, and £52,000 by becoming a self-employed AAT Licensed Accountant.

And overall, government figures indicate that people who complete an apprenticeship at Level 4 or above could expect to boost their lifetime earning power by around £150,000 on average.

So why not find out more about how to apply for an AAT apprenticeship today?

Further reading

Jessica Bown is an award-winning freelance journalist and editor.

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