AAT Vs ACCA – which accounting qualification should you choose?


Accountancy is all about numbers and revolves around financial statement analysis, audits, preparing financial statements, and tax issues. So if you are good at crunching and handling numbers, becoming an accountant can be a great career choice.

However, which accountancy qualification should you opt for? In this blog post we bring forth the key differences between two major accounting qualifications – Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Read on to know all about AAT and ACCA qualifications!

Benefits of accounting qualifications

An accounting qualification is imperative for aspiring accountants as it equips them with the requisite subject knowledge needed for making a stellar career in accountancy. Take a look at few benefits of accounting qualifications, here:

  • Opportunities to work worldwide: being a member of an accounting body opens up avenues for you to work across the world. Usually, accounting qualifications have tie-ups with organizations worldwide.
  • Networking opportunities: as the member of an accounting body, you will have the chance to interact with like-minded people from across the world. You will also get to meet professionals from your field, which is good for boosting your networking opportunities.
  • Cost-effective: obtaining an accounting qualification is a cost-effective method of learning technical skills and grasping accounting knowledge, which helps in giving your career a positive push. This is the role of accountancy qualifications in career growth.

What is AAT?

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), headquartered in London, was established in the year 1980. It is a membership-based organisation that offers accountancy and finance qualifications. According to AAT’s official site, it has over 130,000 members in about 90 countries. AAT professionals are equipped with skills that can help them secure senior positions in top organisations or run their own firms. This membership expects all its members to:

  • Conduct themselves ethically and professionally;
  • Comply with AAT rules and regulations;
  • Keep skills and competence up-to-date.
By offering memberships to accountants, it aims to:


  • Establish AAT as indispensable for people, businesses and organisations;
  • Offer high standard qualifications that reflect the skills needed to work in accountancy and related fields;
  • Promote the skills of students and members and spread awareness about AAT;
  • Offer requisite support, information and resources to people involved with AAT;
  • Offer training and professional development to help students and members achieve their potential.
The AAT courses are very flexible and you can complete these courses either part-time or full-time. You also have various study methods to choose from, such as:


  • Classroom learning: It is an AAT recommended study method which involves close interaction with your peers and faculty members. If you like learning in a group, you should opt for this method.
  • Online and distance learning: this learning method is flexible as compared to classroom learning, but it is more difficult too. You need high motivation and good time-management skills to sit at home and complete the course.
  • Blended learning: this is a combination of classroom and online learning. It uses online platform to teach and provide help from tutors and your peers.
AAT offers a variety of courses, which include:


AAT Accounting Qualifications:


  • Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2);
  • Foundation Diploma in Accounting and Business (Level 2) (16–19-year-olds only);
  • Advanced Diploma in Accounting (Level 3);
  • Professional Diploma in Accounting (Level 4).
AAT Bookkeeping Qualifications:


  • Access Award in Bookkeeping (Level 1);
  • Access Award in Accounting Software (Level 1);
  • Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping (Level 2);
  • Foundation Award in Accounting Software (Level 2);
  • Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping (Level 3).
AAT Business Skills Qualification:


  • Access Award in Business Skills (Level 1).
AAT Essentials (one-day finance training programmes):


  • Budgeting;
  • Effective budgeting and cost control;
  • Finance for non-financial managers;
  • Financial reporting update;
  • Making sense of financial documents;
  • Management reporting for modern-day finance;
  • Managing cash flow – keeping your business healthy;
  • Strategic management accounting;
  • Tax update.

However, the course that needs to be completed in order to obtain AAT qualification and AAT membership is Professional Diploma in Accounting (Level 4).

AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting

This qualification usually takes 18 months to complete, but it can be completed in as short as nine months as well. Once you achieve this qualification, you will obtain professional AAT Accountant status. AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting equips you with expertise in:

  • Drafting and examining financial statements for organisations;
  • Understanding complex management accounting procedures;
  • Analysing accounting systems;
  • In-depth knowledge of specialist accounting subjects.
This course requires certain amounts of payment to be done, such as:


  • Training provider fees (Amount varies depending upon the study method chosen): £1000-£3000;
  • Assessment fees: £70-£80 per assessment;
  • AAT admission and annual membership fee (only to be paid you if you obtain the Professional Diploma in Accounting): £135 for UK students and £125 for international students.
The syllabus for this course consists of four mandatory subjects, which are:


  • Management accounting – budgeting;
  • Management accounting – decision and control;
  • Financial statements of limited companies;
  • Accounting systems and controls.
You also have to choose two optional subjects from a total of five, which include:


  • Business tax;
  • Business tax;
  • Personal tax;
  • External auditing;
  • Cash and treasury management;
Some of the job roles that you can get after completing this qualification are:


  • Assistant Auditor;
  • Cost Accountant;
  • Commercial Analyst;
  • Indirect Tax Manager;
  • Payroll Manager;
  • Professional Accounting Technician;
  • Assistant Financial Accountant;
  • Senior Bookkeeper;
  • Senior Insolvency Administrator;
  • Senior Fund Accountant;
  • Accounts Payable and Expenses Supervisor.

What is ACCA?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a body of professional accountants headquartered in the UK. It is the leading international accountancy organisation in the world. The ACCA course is recognised and accepted, with over 200,000 members and 500,000 students across the world.

You can obtain the ACCA qualification by completing a set of exams. This qualification is highly sought after in fields like consulting, management, banking, finance, and accountancy.

ACCA comprises of three main components, namely:


  • Exams: in order to obtain this qualification, you have to take 14 exams. However, you might be exempted from taking certain exams, which depends upon the qualifications you already hold.
  • Work experience: at least 36 months of relevant work experience is required if you want to become an ACCA member.
  • Ethics: ACCA has a Professional Ethics module that you have to study and pass if you want to become an ACCA member.
If you have registered for the ACCA exam, it is advisable that you take up tuitions to study for the exam. This can be carried out in two ways:


  • Authorised training centres: Approaching authorised training centres for ACCA tuitions is beneficial as these institutes are instructed by ACCA on how to tutor you for the set of exams. Joining the authorised centres also provide you exclusive access to ACCA resources.
  • Online learning: The online learning programme of ACCA is popularly known as ACCA-X. The modules here are taught by qualified instructors.
Registering for the exams also provide you access to study materials such as:


  • Study tips and hacks;
  • ACCA Syllabus guide;
  • ACCA papers and articles with respect to important subjects and modules;
  • A mobile app that provides key learning points and helps in planning your studies;
  • ACCA past papers.

The ACCA exams can be taken in over 150 countries are usually scheduled in March, June, September, and December.

The ACCA syllabus comprises of 14 papers that is partitioned into four groups and three levels.

Comparison between AAT and ACCA

Take a look at the comparison between AAT and ACCA:


  • AAT is considered to be the first step towards becoming an accountant, while ACCA is an advanced qualification for people who already are accountants.
  • AAT is a technical level qualification, while the ACCA qualifications are at the professional level.
  • AAT offers three accountancy qualifications, namely, Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2), Advanced Diploma in Accounting (Level 3), and Professional Diploma in Accounting (Level 4). On the other hand, ACCA has fourteen exams and a much larger syllabus.
  • Having work experience is optional in AAT qualifications, however it is compulsory if you are pursuing the level 4 course. On the other hand, ACCA requires minimum of 36 months of relevant work experience.
  • ACCA is a higher qualification than AAT. If you wish to pursue both these qualifications, you should complete AAT first, and then earn your ACCA membership.


  1.  Who is Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) more suited for?
    AAT is generally considered to be more suited for those just beginning their accounting careers, such as recent graduates, or those who want to build a strong foundation in accounting and finance. It is also appropriate for people seeking support positions in accounting or finance departments.
  2.  Who is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) more suited for?
    ACCA is more appropriate for those who want to become chartered accountants or hold top management roles in accounting and finance should consider ACCA. This designation is also suited for students seeking employment in a variety of accounting-related positions, including those of financial analysts, auditors, and tax experts.
  3.  What are the primary distinctions between AAT and ACCA credentials?
    AAT’s main goal is to teach technical accounting skills and knowledge, like bookkeeping, accounting systems, and financial management. ACCA, on the other hand, covers more advanced topics like financial strategy, performance management, and corporate finance.
  4.  Is ACCA a professional or a vocational credential?
    ACCA is a professional certification; it places a strong emphasis on teaching both theoretical and practical knowledge of accounting and finance.
  5.  Is AAT a vocational or professional qualification?
    AAT is a vocational qualification which focuses on providing practical knowledge and skills that are applicable to the workplace.

If you are interested in pursuing the ACCA qualification, The Toronto School of Management (TSoM) offers a Preparatory Course For ACCA Examination. TSoM has been awarded with Silver Approved Learning Partner status by ACCA, which has over 3,800 students and members in Canada.

This text was written by Varun Mehta and edited by Anisa Choudhary

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