The practice training path – uncovered

The practice path typically involves a training contract with an accountancy practice or firm. The contract is usually for a set period, during which you get practical experience while also studying hard to pass your professional accountancy exams. You earn and learn at the same time.

For many graduates pursuing an accountancy career, a structured training contract in practice has traditionally been the most popular route. There are a large number of graduate training contracts in practice each year – perhaps as high as 1,000 or more – the majority of which are hired through the old ‘milkround’ process (you can read more about milkrounds here).

It’s only in recent years that the industry path has become a little more prominent for graduates. Historically, it was more popular with people who came to accounting a few years after leaving college.

While the specifics of different training contracts in practice will vary, here are some of the typical elements in most practice training contracts:

  • A three to three-and-a-half-year training contract. This will depend on the firm, your background, and the exemptions available to you;
  • A structured training programme with a combination of on-the-job and classroom-based training along with mentoring from qualified accountants in your team;
  • You will be expected to attend lectures and sit exams (in addition to the day job!) with the ultimate aim of getting your qualification before the end of your training contact;
  • You will see your earnings increase as you hit milestones such as passing a set of exams;
  • The practice will typically pay your tuition and exam fees; and
  • You will be provided with a certain amount of paid study leave for your exams with some firms providing optional additional study leave to be paid for with time in lieu (i.e. overtime or toil).

The practice training route is likely to suit you if you are looking for a highly-structured start in the world of accountancy and business. The majority of graduates who take this path typically have accountancy, business and finance undergraduate degrees. However, accountancy firms are increasingly looking to attract graduates from different disciplines (e.g. STEM graduates) who have an interest in the world of business and the desire to work towards a professional accountancy qualification – diversity is a good thing these days!

That’s the basics covered, but we’ve prepared a lot more detail around the practice path for you to consider. Read more on Cruncher about the different types of accounting practices and about the different departments within those practices.



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