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What are the Different Levels of AAT?

In this blog, we dive into the various levels of AAT and see what the certifications can do to progress your finance or accounting career.

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Whether you’re looking to change industries, take your accounting role to the next level or boost your skillset, AAT provides a range of courses that can help kickstart or advance your career. 

But who is AAT, and what qualifications do they offer? In this blog, we dive into the various levels of AAT and see what the certifications can do to progress your finance or accounting career.

What is AAT?

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is a leading professional body with over 130,000 members across 100 countries. They provide a range of qualifications such as accounting, bookkeeping and business skills.

How many levels are there in AAT?

AAT is made up of 3 levels: Foundation, Advanced and Professional. There are also bookkeeping courses at both foundation and advanced levels.

AAT Foundation Certificate (Level 2) – This level is perfect if you are new to finance and accounting, have some experience in an accounts department or want to move into the accountancy sector.

By doing it, you will understand the fundamentals of finance administration, have a good grasp of bookkeeping transactions and controls, understand costing and be able to use accounting software.

The foundation certificate should take between 6 to 12 months to complete. Once you complete it, you will be able to get an entry-level job such as Accounts Administrator, Accounts Assistant or Accounts Payable Clerk.

AAT Advanced Diploma (Level 3) – A more in-depth qualification, this level will help you understand principles in bookkeeping and management accounting along with developing advanced technical skills.

This diploma covers advanced bookkeeping techniques, final accounts preparation, management accounting such as costing, indirect tax, spreadsheet skills and ethics in accounting.

It should take between 6 to 12 months to complete the advanced diploma. On completion, you will become a qualified bookkeeper and eligible for mid-level roles such as Assistant Accountant and Payroll Supervisor.

AAT Professional (Level 4) – This is the final qualification for AAT and, once completed, will enable you to work in accounting roles or move onto chartered accounting.

By completing it, you will know how to draft and interpret financial statements, manage budgets and evaluate performance, and understand high-level concepts such as cost analysis, cost behaviour and contribution theory.

You will also understand accounting systems and controls, UK taxation, personal tax, external auditing, credit management along with cash and treasury management.

AAT estimates that it will take you 9 to 18 months to complete this qualification. Once you complete this level, you will become an AAT affiliate and be able to:

  1. Take on a senior accountant role such as a Senior Finance Officer or Senior Fund Accountant
  2. Join a fast-track programme to become a Chartered Accountant such as ACCA or CIMA
  3. Start your own accountancy firm

What about AAT Bookkeeping Courses?

AAT offers five short courses in bookkeeping which can be completed in 6 to 12 weeks. These courses do not require any previous experience in bookkeeping, so they are perfect for anyone wanting to upskill or change their career.

  • Access Award in Bookkeeping – The perfect way to get introduced to bookkeeping, this course will provide you with a solid foundation in the area. It will help you understand the bookkeeper role and know how to do financial transactions along with processing transactions, payments and receipts.
  • Access Award in Accounting Software – This 6-week course will help you set up accounts, record bank and cash transactions and produce reports using the software.
  • Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping – This certificate will concentrate on two areas – bookkeeping transactions and controls. Estimated to take 12 weeks to complete, you will know how to manage books effectively and undertake double-entry bookkeeping along with other key processes by the end of the course.
  • Foundation Award in Accounting Software – Through this course, you will know how to set up accounting software, process transactions, produce reports and perform period end routine tasks.
  • Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping – Perfect for experienced bookkeepers, this certificate will take around 6 months to complete. It covers advanced bookkeeping, final accounts preparation and indirect tax.

How do you pass your AAT exams?

All AAT levels can be sat at exam test centres as computer-based exams. You can find a test centre near you here.

There are also synoptic assessments which will test your understanding of the connections between different topics throughout your AAT qualification.

These take place at the end of the course, and you can select the date that suits you best. There are 6 specific test windows over a year to choose from.

What AAT course is right for you?

Whether you’re looking to learn new skills to work as a bookkeeper or become a professional accountant, AAT has a range of courses that can fit around your life.

With so many opportunities available to those with the proper accounting and finance experience, an AAT qualification could help kickstart a new career or bring an existing one back to life!

If you’re still unsure what course would suit you, check out AAT’s Skillcheck test to see what’s best for you and your career.

Alan Lynch
4 min read
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