Accounting apprenticeships

Brandon  Accounting Apprentice

What is an accounting apprenticeship?

An accounting apprenticeship combines professional qualifications with on-the-job experience working as an accountant. And you’ll earn while you learn.

An accounting apprenticeship is a paid job where you’ll couple at least 20% of your working hours in off-the-job learning with hands-on experience working in an accounting role.

You’ll spend the rest of your working hours doing client work and learning from experienced colleagues. On completion of the accounting apprenticeship you’ll have a recognised qualification.

You’ll do well with an accounting apprenticeship if you enjoy…

Top employer for accounting apprenticeships

PKF Francis Clark is a Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer. We rank 28th on the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list for 2023, compiled by the Department of Education in partnership with High Fliers Research, who independently assess and rank England’s top apprenticeship employers.

The rankings recognise employers for their commitment to employing apprentices, their creation of new apprenticeships, the diversity of their new apprentices, and the number of apprentices who complete their apprenticeships and progress further.

A total of 108 apprentices started their accounting apprenticeships with PKF Francis Clark in the year to March 2023. With nine offices across the South and South West of England, the firm offers accountancy and tax apprenticeship pathways for graduates, school leavers and career changers.

The Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers accolade comes after PKF Francis Clark was certified as a Great Place to Work in 2022 and ranked among the UK’s Best Workplaces and Best Workplaces for Wellbeing in 2023.

Which accounting apprenticeship is right for me?

Paths to becoming a qualified accountant or tax adviser

University of Plymouth graduates joined in graduate accounting jobs

We offer the level 3 and level 4 Association of Accounting Technicians qualifications, popularly known as AAT accountancy apprenticeships, which together typically take two and a half to three years to complete. These are globally recognised qualifications, popular with non-graduates, including school and college leavers, and career changers. The entry requirement for the AAT accounting apprenticeship is 112 UCAS points.

You can progress from AAT to further professional qualifications – once you have AAT level 4 or a degree at 2:2 or above then you are eligible to study for your Chartered Accountant and/or Chartered Tax Adviser qualifications.

Chartered Accountant (ACA) is a level 7 qualification, it combines technical training with advanced business and leadership skills. It takes three years to complete and is recognised by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) is a level 7 qualification and the highest level of tax qualification available in the UK. It takes three years to complete and is recognised by The Chartered Institute of Taxation.

To find out more about applying for any of these accounting apprenticeships see our info about the apprenticeship recruitment process.


Accounting apprenticeships FAQs

What does an accounting apprentice do?

The typical tasks undertaken by an accounting apprentice include:

    • Bookkeeping – recording transactions and ensuring the accounts add up
    • Preparing and filing financial reports – such as balance sheets, budgets, cash flow plans, profit and loss statements tax returns and company financial performance reporting
    • Researching – market research such as industry trends or competitor financials, researching complex tax rules, gathering data for forecasting and to do company valuations
    • Relationship building – talking to clients to answer their questions; giving expert advice and building trusted relationships with your clients is at the heart of what accountants do
    • Learn to use accounting programs – makes the work much more efficient


During your accountancy apprenticeship you’ll work in your core team and do placements in other teams. This ensures that you develop a broad range of accounting skills, and you’ll get a flavour of some of the specialisms that you might opt to get into in future. For example you could specialise in work in a given sector such as energy, food and drink or property; or in a service such as corporate finance, cyber security or tax; or pick a path that will see you working with a broad range of clients.

How do accounting apprenticeships work?

As an accounting apprentice you’ll spend 80% of your time learning on the job and 20% in tuition. This may be in-person at a study centre or online. You’ll study a structured set of modules and take an exam at the end of each one. Applying what you learn in your day-to-day job really helps to make sense of it all. You’ll be expected to study outside of work too, this varies depending on the individual but 10 hours per week of independent study is typical and this increases around exam time.

We appoint leading training providers to deliver your tuition. We then couple this with our own three-year internal training programme, plus the support of your manager and a mentor, to provide an exceptional training experience. 

Here is our guide to how to apply and what happens next.

Do I need to be good at maths to do an accounting apprenticeship?

It’s a myth that accountants spend all day crunching the numbers. The job is actually about analysis, problem solving, understanding the economic and policy environment, and relationship building. If you enjoy working with numbers that’s a bonus!

You’ll need to be comfortable with numbers to do an accounting apprenticeship, but you don’t need to be a maths whizz. To do an accountancy apprenticeship you’ll need Maths and English GCSEs at grade 4 or the old grade C or above.

Is an apprenticeship or uni better for accounting?

That depends on what you want. The pros to doing an AAT apprenticeship are no tuition fees and that you’ll be learning on-the-job from day one and talking to clients.

The pros to going to uni first are that you get to study something you love, and you get to enjoy the university experience. If you go to uni you can go straight into a level 7 accounting apprenticeship, or a tax one. Anyone who holds the level 4 AAT accountancy apprenticeship can then progress to the same level 7 qualifications that graduates start on. All roads lead to Rome and all that.

You don’t need a degree to reach the top of the profession. Do whatever feels right for you. It not unusual for non-graduates to become partners (i.e. leaders) at the firm.

What might my typical day look like as an accounting apprentice?

It might be a bit of a clique but really no two days are the same. Every client has different ambitions for their business, and so what they need from their accountant varies. We advise on all sorts, from succession planning, to complex tax needs, research and development, international trade, employee benefits and selling your business. And naturally we prepare accounts and tax returns too.

As an accounting apprentice you’ll need to work from the office most days so that you can learn from more senior colleagues, but over time you’ll have increasing flexibility to do some work from home, in line with the firm’s hybrid working charter.

Where might an accounting apprenticeship take me?

Achieving your professional accountancy qualifications is a huge career milestone. By the time you complete your accounting apprenticeship you’ll typically be managing a portfolio of clients, with ongoing support from the senior colleagues. You may also be managing a small team of trainees.

Accountants can work in practice in an accounting firm, or in industry for a business. Working in practice gives you the opportunity to work with various clients from a range of industries. You’ll likely try out different specialisms such as audit, digital, insolvency or tax. Working in industry usually means that you work for one business, likely as part of an in-house finance team.

Practice offers a structured career progression from trainee through to senior roles. This can look something like going from apprentice, to accountant, senior, assistant manager, manager, senior manager, director and partner.

But we know everyone wants different things. We want you to be you and to be happy, so we have regular career conversations to understand where you want to go. And we’ve mapped out career pathways at the firm, so that it’s clear how to progress here.

Where and when do you recruit accounting apprentices?

We open graduate roles in September and non-graduate roles in December every year. You can apply to do your accounting apprenticeship in eight of our nine locations. These are Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Poole, Salisbury, Taunton, Torquay and Truro.

We advise applying ASAP after the roles open to secure your preferred location. This is because we make offers as we go with no fixed closing date. If no suitable role is currently available please sign up for our job alerts

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