Job Prospect

A Guide for Newly / Part Qualified Accountants

July 28, 2020 2 Comments

So you chose Accountancy as a career path and worked through all the options to educate yourself in the relevant field. You might have chosen to go for this field after Graduating or getting yourself a Master’s degree, or you might have gone directly for the path to become a part of an association of Accountants that offers you the option to do their entry level modules and then join the main qualification route without first getting a graduate degree in the relevant field. Which one is right for you depends on your personal preferences and on your long term goals. It is not like one formula works for all. Whatever path you took, now you are almost qualified (Part Qualified) or maybe fully qualified (A fellow or a Member), you start pondering, what opportunities are out there for me? Well, there are hundreds of subfields that you can take in Accountancy and then specialise in that area. 

I will not be able to list all but I will try to list a few good options to get you started. It will give you an idea where you should concentrate your efforts. You can choose to be in a Accountancy/Audit Practice or join directly the likes of Commerce/Industry or may be join Specialised Advisory like Taxation or Fraud Investigation. These three options broadly fit nicely in the main branches of accounting like Financial Accounting, Cost/Management Accounting and Forensic/Tax Accounting, respectively. 

Practice (Accountancy/Audit) 

By far the most popular choice and in my opinion, a really good one as well. 
If you choose Practice to be your first step in your career, like most people you will immediately think of the Big 4. If you are reading this article, you already know what I mean by that. Yes, the Big 4 is a good choice and it opens up a lot of options for you later in your career. The companies are now very large practices who specialise in all kinds of fields. You name a service, they will provide it. For new joiners, they have comprehensive training programs that are well defined. Those programs have been evolving with the ever-changing business practices. The Big 4 have large clients from all business fields. You will have teams with lots of responsibility being allocated to you. I have met many professionals who trained and worked with these big practices. But you should also know that the Big 4 are not the only option. Over the years and based on the feedback that I receive directly in the market, I have observed that most of the successful people currently working for the Big 4 are not the ones who have been trained in the Big 4. They actually come from a very small but important firms, referred to as Small Practices. 

Small practices or Firms have always played a very important role in the wider economy and specially for the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). If you are a part of such a practice, you will be dealing with clients from all sorts of business sectors. Usually, the number of employees in such practices is small. This gives all staff the opportunity to not only deal directly with the clients, but also enables them to understand the countless number of problems a business faces on a regular basis. Such an exposure is not only good for your Curriculum Vitae (CV) but will also prove to be invaluable experience for you in the long run as you progress through you career. Usually such firms have very small number of employees so it means there is always an opportunity to earn those management positions fairly quickly. It is easier to gain insight into big projects as you are always working very closely with the senior partners. If your long-term plan is to get a practicing certificate and setup your own Practice, you will always learn more about sales by working for small practices as job titles in such businesses can easily overlap. 

Nowadays many newcomers or graduates who are joining this sector for the first time have been influenced by the dress code culture of big IT Companies. Well, in small practices, the dress code culture is a bit more relaxed so that is an added benefit. So, there are a lot of benefits of being part of a smaller setup but in the end, it all depends on your personal preference and goals.

Commerce / Industry 

If you plan to work for industry, I assume that you are already well aware of the sheer number of options and roles available to you. Obviously, there are all kinds of industrial organisations that are involved in different sectors. The options are almost unlimited. If you check Job boards or websites that advertise jobs and search through some of the roles that are available, you might feel a little overwhelmed by the job titles, job descriptions and job responsibilities however if you spend some time and summarise the data, you will see that most of the roles are actually the same. Nowadays Human Resource departments are creating all kinds of fancy Job Titles, but the jobs actually involve more of the same. I have seen far too many times that Newly Qualified accountants who have trained in Practice, jump ship once they feel that it is time to settle down. They then progress their career either within the organisation or the sector. In most cases, this has been a successful model. 

If you are just starting up your career in the accountancy field, depending on your long term plans, you might prefer going for a specialised but entry level role when joining industry but in my opinion your goal should be to just get in. Once you are in, after gaining some experience and knowing the organisation systems and culture, you can move to your preferred role as soon as an opportunity become available. This can be in Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable or some other part of the Accounts department. Make the right connections, prove your skills and you are all setup.

Specialised Advisory 
As the name implies, these organisations involve a very specific role with a specific purpose. Examples are Tax Consultants and Forensic Accountants such as qualified ACFE. In most cases, I have not seen people becoming a part of Specialised Advisory in the early days of their careers. Organisations in this sector usually prefer to hire candidates who have previous experience in Accountancy field. They then polish these employees and train them. Accountancy Professionals who are enthusiasts and have a keen interest in specialised field of accountancy are also the ones who are keenly interested in being a part of such organisations. 
Based on my experience, I would suggest not to choose this career path when you are in the early days of your career. However if you do want to start here, your best bet for Forensics is to join one of the Big 4 as they have graduate programs that will train you. These programs usually open once or twice a year and are mostly linked to the academic years. If you are interested in Tax, what better place to join than the taxation authority itself. (IRS, HMRC, Revenue). In Ireland, Revenue takes on Executive Officers (EO) and the hiring process involves an open competition. If successful, you will be added to a panel. These panels are kept live for around a year. After that, a new panel is formed. For Executive Officers, Revenue has partnered with local universities so you will be required to complete / graduate. Revenue’s internal resources are like a gold mine. These resources are updated on a regular basis and if you consider yourself to be on the nerdy side, you will be amazed at how much information is available for you to learn from. 


The content of this blog has been written by Rehan Khan. The author has been part of many successful multinational companies where he learned and excelled. He has worked in IT, Finance, Accounting and Advisory sectors. Currently, the author is not only running his own successful businesses but also acting as an advisor for a number of previous employers on a regular basis. In case you need to contact the author, use the comments section below. 


  1. Paulina
    August 31, 2020

    Hi Rehan!

    Firstly, I want to say this article is very helpful.
    I have recently decided that I would like to pursue a career in accounting. I have studied in Poland and I have a Master’s degree in Administration. When I moved to Ireland I starter Accounting Technicians Ireland course and this year I passed all my first year exams. Now I am entering the second year and I would like to gain some work experience. I have been sending my resumes for some times, but unfortunately with no success. Do you have an advice on how to get the first job in accounting when I do not really have relevant experience?
    Best regards,

  2. Rehan
    September 6, 2020

    Hi Paulina,

    I’m glad that you find this article helpful.

    Regarding your question and given the current circumstances, my suggestion would be to try to find an internship role instead of a job that requires previous experience. Many employers are registered with JobBridge. As I’m not too sure about your current employment situation, maybe JobBridge will be a good option for you.


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