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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)

£22,000 Starter


£65,000 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 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. After your degree you could join a structured graduate training scheme. Some employers may prefer graduates of subjects like:

  • accounting and finance
  • business and management
  • maths
  • politics and economics
  • public administration

Most employers would support you to work towards the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) professional accountancy qualification.

Relevant degree subjects will give you exemptions from the certificate level of the CIPFA qualification.

You can find graduate training programmes with organisations like:

  • 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

Look for opportunities to gain work experience during your studies through:

  • insight days
  • virtual and in person work placements
  • Easter and Summer vacation schemes
  • internships
  • year placement opportunities

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 gain your professional qualifications through the apprenticeship route. You could take your first steps to a career as a professional accountant by starting off at technician level and working your way up. You could do:

  • a professional accountancy technician higher apprenticeship
  • an accountancy and taxation professional higher apprenticeship

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

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.

More Information

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

In your day-to-day duties you could:

  • prepare financial records and statements
  • estimate the cost of new projects
  • review budgets and investments
  • monitor spending and cashflows
  • allocate money to projects and departments
  • analyse the effectiveness of services
  • manage organisations' finance systems
  • conduct internal audits
  • present 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 move into management and progress to director of finance.

You could also move into private practice or management accountancy.

You could also teach in a further education college.

Find out more about teaching in further education from Teach in further education.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Finance Higher Apprentice

  • Wage: £17,500.00 Annually
  • Location: 2 Bolton Close, Isleport Business Park, Highbridge

Finance Apprentice

  • Wage: £18,000.00 Annually

Courses In England

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Jobs In the United Kingdom

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