Your way to professional membership

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Just passed Level 4? We’re removing barriers to membership while offering support and maintaining standards.

Progression Pathways is our modern approach designed to help students progress to professional membership. Based on feedback, it recognises how today’s accountants make an impact in the workplace. It stops work experience from becoming a barrier; instead members grow their skills by completing a prescriptive CPD programme in their first nine months of membership.

What is the new system?

In place of work experience, AAT has pioneered a new system where students who have completed Level 4 are immediately eligible for membership once they have completed their fit and proper checks and paid their AAT membership fee.

In the first nine months, they’ll be supported with a compulsory CPD programme, which covers key areas they need in the workplace from ethics and sustainability to collaboration and leadership.

The accounting qualification is taken as absolute proof of technical competence. But the CPD modules support individuals further by developing supplementary skills and behaviours, based on a formula that has proven successful in apprenticeships.

What are the advantages?

This new approach removes barriers for many would-be members and is in keeping with AAT’s desire to create open access to accountancy careers. The previous system sometimes created a Catch-22 situation: work experience was hard to come by without membership, but membership was contingent on securing work experience. It was a system that created obstacles rather than one that helped students progress.

Coming into professional membership provides the benefit of accessing a broader bookkeeping and accounting community for support and opportunity.

Another benefit is consistency – all new members will have the same grounding, so can feel confident they have the same skills.

Crucially, AAT believes this approach will give the public greater confidence in a consistent standard of competence, helping the standing of the profession. This contrasts with the public’s experience of unregulated accountants, which our Accountable research found leads to problems that require a properly trained accountant to put right in 20% of cases.

When does the CPD have to be completed?

The Pathway is simple: once you’ve demonstrated your technical competence by passing the final exam at Level 4, you are eligible to apply for professional membership. Completing the application includes ‘fit and proper’ checks and paying the membership fee.

You must complete the CPD pathway within the first nine months to remain in membership. The programme is therefore delivered online and designed to flex around your career and time commitments. There’s no final test at the end of the modules, either.

What’s in the CPD programme?

To achieve that, the CPD programme has been put together with a rigorous commitment to maintaining standards. It’s designed around the framework of the Level 4 Apprenticeship and as such combines practical learning and case studies drawn from real life.

We believe this programme is better than most work experience that you would likely find at a similar stage. It’s been put together to give broad exposure to the kinds of challenges you’ll face as your accounting career progresses. So, whether that’s understanding your ethical responsibilities, how accounting supports business development or how to build effective teams, the programme aims to cover the most useful ground. We believe it will round out your technical skills and help you hit the ground running. Here’s the full list of modules:

Module 1 – Awareness and adaptability to the business environment

Module 2 – Ethics, integrity and professional judgement

Module 3 – Adding value and delivering business success

Module 4 – Leadership, collaboration and working in teams

Module 5 – Planning, prioritisation and delivering accurate information

Module 6 – Sustainability

Module 7 – Data protection and information security

Module 8 – AML and fraud prevention

Building your career

The modern accountant needs to understand a broader range of business drivers than previous generations. As a profession we’re expected to act as gatekeepers of business governance and efficiency, ethical leaders and gatherers of insight through data. That’s before we get to active and pragmatic agents of change around the sustainability agenda.

The Pathway will help you understand these issues with real-life and relevant examples that reflect the challenges you’ll face as you build a career in accounting. Our goal is to give you the tools to help you fit seamlessly into the modern workplace, and we believe the Pathway will do exactly that.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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