Be the boss: Four steps to becoming a Self-Employed AAT Licensed Accountant


Maybe it’s time for a career change, or perhaps you would like to become your own boss.

Have you considered becoming a Self-Employed AAT Licensed Accountant?

The most popular path to licensed status is via the AAT Level 2, 3 and 4 accounting qualifications as our quick guide below shows…

AAT Licensed Self-employed Accountant 1

1) Start your AAT journey

If you have no previous accounting experience then your AAT journey will usually begin with the Level 2 Foundation Certificate in Accounting. This qualification includes Bookkeeping Transactions, Bookkeeping Controls, Elements of Costing, Using Accounting Software and the Foundation Synoptic (including Work Effectively in Finance) with five exams to be sat at an assessment centre near you. On average, this course takes 8-9 months to complete but can be gained in as little as three months.

2) Foundation Certificate in Accounting done

Well done! Now it’s time to use that knowledge to study the AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting. This is your opportunity to build on your Level 2 knowledge across five core areas covering Advanced Bookkeeping, Final Accounts Preparation, Management Accounting: Costing, Indirect Tax and the Advanced Synoptic (including Ethics for Accountants and Spreadsheets for Accounting). Around 12 months is the average for this level based on 6-8 hours of study time per week.

3) Levels 2 and 3 completed

With ‘only’ the Professional Diploma in Accounting remaining, you are well on your way to becoming an AAT Licensed Accountant. However, the Level 4 qualification is no pushover with mandatory units covering Management Accounting: Budgeting, Management Accounting: Decision and Control, Financial Statements of Limited Companies and the Professional Synoptic (including Accounting Systems and Control). Two optional units are also required, with students able to choose from Business Tax, Personal Tax, Cash & Treasury Management, Credit Management and External Auditing. That equals six assessments in total and, on average, 12-18 months of study time.

4) Offer accounting services to clients

If you’ve completed the Professional Diploma in Accounting and have gained the required work experience, you can apply to become a full AAT member with the internationally recognised designatory letters MAAT. Once you’ve achieved this professional status, you can apply to become an AAT Licensed Accountant and offer up to 18 services from bookkeeping through to payroll, corporation tax, internal audit and forensic accounting. Welcome to your new career!