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Public finance accountant

Alternative titles for this job include Chartered public finance accountant

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

Average salary (a year)

£25,000 Starter


£60,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 a week

You could work

evenings occasionally

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become 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
  • maths
  • economics
  • public administration

Look for work experience opportunities during your studies, as these can give you an advantage when applying for jobs. 

Opportunities include:

  • insight days
  • virtual and in person work placements
  • Easter and summer vacation schemes
  • internships

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

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

More Information


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.

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 higher or degree apprenticeship

More Information

Other Routes

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.

Further information

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

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

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

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a public finance accountant you could:

  • prepare financial records and statements
  • make sure records meet legal and ethical standards
  • monitor spending and cashflows
  • advise treasury departments on investments and borrowing
  • manage an organisation's financial systems and processes
  • conduct internal audits
  • present reports to boards and budget holders

Working environment

You could work in an office.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience you could become a senior accountant, move into management or progress to a director of finance position.

You could also move into private practice or management accountancy.

You could use your skills and experience to work in higher education or teach in further education.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Audit Associate Graduate Apprenticeship (Corporate)

  • Wage: £31,000 a year Annually
  • Location: London

Audit Associate Graduate Apprenticeship (Charity - September 2024)

  • Wage: £31,000 a year Annually
  • Location: London

Courses In England


  • Start date: 01 September 2024
  • Location: Ipswich


  • Start date: 04 September 2024
  • Location: Leyland

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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