How to become a public finance accountant
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- training with a professional body
Training in public finance accountancy is open to graduates of all subjects, though some employers may prefer you to have a degree in:
- accounting and finance
- business and management
- public administration
Look for work experience opportunities during your studies, as these can give you an advantage when applying for jobs.
- insight days
- virtual and in person work placements
- Easter and summer vacation schemes
After your degree you could join a structured graduate training scheme. Many employers will help you to gain the Professional Accountancy Qualification (PAQ) with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
There may be some exemptions for the certificate level of the PAQ, depending on your degree.
You can find graduate training schemes with:
- local and central government
- housing associations and charities
- the NHS and other healthcare bodies
- police authorities and the military
- private sector accountancy firms that offer services to public sector organisations
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
You could take your first steps into an accountancy career by applying to do a Professional Accounting Technician Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship. This can take up to 2 years.
You might then use this as entry onto the Accountancy Professional Level 7 Apprenticeship, or an accountancy degree at university.
You'll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
You could study with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) to qualify.
You would complete the Professional Accountancy Qualification (PAQ).
You can apply to take the CIPFA PAQ if you're:
- over 18 and have at least 3 GCSEs, grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), and 2 A levels - including English and maths at either level
- a graduate with an accountancy related degree
- an accountant qualified with a different professional body
- a part-qualified accountant
- a chartered internal auditor
- a graduate with the Association of Accountancy Technicians
You could also do the CIPFA PAQ if you're in a senior public finance role but don't yet hold a professional accountancy qualification.
You can find out more about careers in public finance accountancy from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy.