Public finance accountant

Business and Finance Career Profiles - The CV Writer

Public finance accountants make sure money is spent properly in public sector organisations.

Salary Range: £18,000 to £100,000

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How to become a public finance accountant

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • training with a professional body
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University

You could take a degree and then further professional training to qualify. Relevant subjects include:

  • finance
  • accounting
  • business and management
  • maths

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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Apprenticeship

You could do a Level 7 degree apprenticeship as an accountancy and taxation professional.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship

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Other routes

Many public finance accountants qualify with The Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA). You’ll need to complete the CIPFA Professional Qualification (PQ).

You can take the CIPFA PQ if you’re:

  • a graduate with an accountancy related degree
  • an accountant qualified with another professional body
  • a part-qualified accountant
  • a chartered internal auditor
  • a graduate with the Association of Accountancy Technicians

You could also do the CIPFA PQ if you’re in a senior public finance role but don’t yet hold a professional accountancy qualification.

You may be able to claim exemptions from some exams if you already have relevant qualifications.

CIPFA also work with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) to produce a specialist apprenticeship scheme.

You may be able to join some larger employers directly through a finance management training scheme. You’ll usually need at least A levels or equivalent, though some employers may ask for a degree.

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Further information

You can find out more about careers in public finance accountancy from The Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of economics and accounting
  • maths knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • administration skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • preparing financial records and statements
  • estimating the cost of new projects
  • reviewing budgets and investments
  • monitoring spending and cashflows
  • allocating money to projects and departments
  • analysing the effectiveness of services
  • managing organisations’ finance systems
  • conducting internal audits
  • presenting to boards and budget holders

Working environment

You could work in an office.

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Career path and progression

With experience you could move into management and progress to director of finance.

You could also move into private practice or management accountancy.