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What is AAT?

Maybe you are looking to study for an AAT qualification? Or maybe you just like to know more about it. Whatever your motivation, this blog will give you the main information you might be after.

AAT stands for the Association of Accounting Technicians and is sponsored by the following UK’s leading accountancy bodies – CIPFA, CIMA, ICAS and ICAEW. The organisation has over 130,000 members worldwide, making them the UK’s leading professional membership body for accounting.

With such excellent international recognition it is not surprising many people want to study for an AAT to start their accounting career.

Why do I need AAT?

The AAT Accounting Qualification is greatly respected in the financial industry, and is designed to give students all the practical skills they need to build a career in finance.

AAT qualifications are globally recognised, and are generally considered prerequisites for several accountancy positions. They can be studied regardless of age, experience or previous qualifications, so are perfect for anyone seriously considering a career in the accounting sector.

The four levels
There are four different levels of AAT qualification, each covering different accountancy skills and job opportunities upon completion. Below is a quick and easy overview of each level.

AAT Access (Level 1)
This is a short course offering a basic introduction to accounting and finance skills. It is the ideal starting point in accountancy especially for young people. The course usually takes 12 weeks to complete.

AAT Level 2
This is the foundation stage of AAT and is ideal for when you are looking to move directly into junior accountancy roles in business. You do not have to complete Level 1 in order to start this qualification. It typically takes 12 months to complete and covers essential accounting skills and principles such as costing, double entry bookkeeping, trial balances and computerised accounting. When qualified, it will open the door to opportunities such as accounts payable clerk or payroll administrator.

AAT Level 3
This is the intermediate stage of AAT. It will build on the theory learned at level 2 as well as offering proficient skills in technical training and complex financial processes including the formal preparation of accounts for sole traders and partnerships.

The kind of accountancy roles you can apply for with this qualification are payroll supervisor, credit controller, bookkeeper to name a few. What’s more, when qualifying you will be eligible for the AAT Bookkeeper status (AATQB) which allows you to work as a freelance bookkeeper.

AAT Level 4

This is the final and most advanced stage of AAT and is great for those who are looking to advance their skills and progress to chartered accountancy. Typical completion time is 15 months. It focuses more on advanced accounting processes and management accounting techniques such as budget preparation, monitoring financial performance and drafting financial statements.

Upon completion you will become an AAT affiliate member (MAAT) and you’ll be qualified for more senior roles or roles with management aspects. Examples of roles are: Financial Accountant, Senior Bookkeeper, VAT Accountant.

People who completed their AAT can become a full AAT member (MAAT) and once you have been a MAAT for at least 5 years you can pay an additional fee to become an AAT Fellow member (FMAAT).

Options after becoming AAT qualified:

You may decide to continue your studies with another chartered accountancy body. All of the UK's chartered accountancy bodies offer AAT full members (MAAT) and fellow members (FMAAT) generous exemptions and a fast track route to chartered status. 

- ACCA: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- CIMA: Chartered institute of Management Accountants
- CIPFA: Chartered Institute of Public and Finance Accountancy
- ICAEW: Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
- ICAS: Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland