Career change to Accounting



Would appreciate hearing people’s views on this. I am currently looking at a career change. I have worked in the third/charitable sector since I graduated and for the past 7 years have held a variety of leadership positions. However, I am a bit bored/disillusioned with the charitable sector and the constant insecurity, as well as the lack of clout many of them have.

I am looking for a career for the next 15 years or so as opposed to a vocation and have applied to the Deloitte Graduate Scheme and just applied to the PWC Scheme - I have just passed the telephone interview stage on the Deloitte one. I am interested in accountancy, pretty good at working with numbers and finance, though not a finance related grad, and fascinated with business and its workings. I am therefore interested in the doors that an ACA/ACCA or other qualification could lead to in the medium term, in or out of one of the big 4, and the likely job prospects.

If I am succesful at getting onto one of the schemes it would mean an initial pay cut of probably 50%, maybe more but I am trying to take the medium term view on it, thinking that if/when I qualify my salary would rise pretty substantially. I have an application in for the Deloitte Audit service line, which whilst not the most exciting of jobs still provides the qualification - though they have an assessment centre this week which I am not on which may lead to them filling all the posts so they may offer a different location or service line.

Finally, just to clairfy, I work in the regions (N.ireland) so salaries are not what you find in London, but am open in the medium term to moving across. Additionally, I know a number of accountants who are in practice who keep telling me not to do it, there are no jobs available, I will get let go of once I get my ACA as I am too expensive and that going with one of the Big 4 means I will be missing out on a lot of detail that I would get at a smaller practice - one reckons I wouldn’t be able to prepare a set of accounts properly. Curiously these people also seem to have done pretty well out of accountancy.

So, with that all in mind I would appreciate people’s views on:

  1. Changing career to Accountancy/professional services and the medium to long-term outlook
  2. Pros and Cons of doing it with the Big 4
  3. Salary prospects
  4. Avenues open to me after Audit - would I be stuck in this area?