When it comes to furthering your education and adding new qualifications to your CV, there are so many to choose from. From more academic qualifications, such as GCSEs, A-Levels or even degrees to more vocational courses, such as BTECs, T-Levels or something more specific, such as an AAT qualification. The problem is that it can be a little difficult to properly know what all of these qualifications are and what the differences between them are. This is especially the case for ones such as AAT qualifications as they are so specialised.
AAT stands for Association of Accounting Technicians. They are vocational qualifications in accounting and related areas, such as bookkeeping and business skills. AAT qualifications are professional qualifications, meaning that they are regulated and awarded by a professional body in their field, AAT, and that they ensure a certain standard amongst professionals within the accounting industry. AAT and their qualifications are highly respected worldwide, making them a great addition to your job applications.
Continue reading to learn more about what AAT qualifications are and what they involve. This article will include more information on the AAT levels, the length of AAT courses, the cost of AAT courses and more.
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What are AAT qualifications?
To put it simply, AAT qualifications are qualifications offered by the AAT organisation. To properly understand what these are, it’s important to know what AAT is in the first place.
AAT stands for Association of Accounting Technicians. This is a professional organisation that operates in over 100 different countries with their 130,000 members. You can learn more about them by looking on their website here.
Due to this, AAT qualifications are qualifications in accounting and related fields. In particular, the AAT qualifications are a great way for those new to the accounting world, so without any experience or a degree, to learn the trade.
Due to the nature of these qualifications in their training of students, AAT qualifications are also a type of vocational qualification. Vocational qualifications are simply qualifications that train students for a specific trade, as AAT qualifications do in accounting and related fields. To learn more about vocational qualifications, check out this Think Student article.
As AAT are a professional and highly respected accounting organisation around the globe, the AAT qualifications are also given this respect internationally. Thus, allowing you to train in the field and become an accounting professional in many other countries. To learn more about the AAT qualifications, check out this article by Kaplan.
Is an AAT a professional qualification?
A professional qualification is a type of vocational qualification, training students for a specific industry or career. Unlike other types of vocational courses, professional qualifications are typically regulated and awarded by professional bodies within the industry or career path that the qualification is in. This is especially as the idea of professional qualifications are to ensure a certain standard amongst professionals within the industry.
Professional qualifications can be taken at different stages, such as at graduate level or after years on the job, this may be dependent on what the particular qualification is and what industry it is for. To learn more about this, check out this guide by Prospects.
As mentioned above, AAT qualifications are vocational qualifications, as professional qualifications are. Also, as the highly respected professional body, AAT, are the ones regulating and awarding the AAT qualifications in their areas of expertise, accounting, and related areas. Due to this, it is no surprise that AAT qualifications are also recognised as professional accounting certifications around the world.
This makes them great additions to your job applications as it shows employers that you are not only qualified but also of a good standard. To learn more about this, check out this guide by KBM Training & Recruiting.
How many AAT qualification levels are there?
AAT qualifications are quite diverse in that they cover a range of different qualifications at different levels in accounting and related fields, such as bookkeeping and basic business skills.
The AAT accounting qualifications are available at 3 levels. These are from level 2, which is equivalent to GCSE qualifications, to level 4, which is equivalent to a higher national certificate (HNC).
The AAT bookkeeping qualifications are also available in 3 levels. These are instead available from level 1 to level 3, which is equivalent to A-Level or Higher qualifications.
The AAT business skills qualification is only available at one level, this is also a level 1 qualification. In business skills, AAT also offers short courses, such as AAT Essentials and AAT Business Finance Basics.
To learn more about these qualifications and the levels they’re available at, check out this page by AAT. To learn more about what different qualification levels are equivalent to, check out this Think Student article.
Is AAT Level 4 equivalent to a degree?
The AAT Level 4 is a level 4 qualification as per the qualification levels in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, it would be a level 8 qualification. To learn more about the comparison between the qualification levels in Scotland and the rest of the UK, check out this Think Student article.
In most of the UK, a level 4 qualification is the first level of higher education so it would normally be taken from the age of 18 or above. These qualifications are designed to give students a much higher understanding in the subject and to build on the “core” knowledge that they would have learnt at earlier levels. To learn more about this, check out this Think Student article.
Degree-level qualifications are the highest levels of higher education in the UK. For example, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, an undergraduate degree is at level 6, a master’s degree is at level 7 and a doctorate degree is at the highest level, level 8. In Scotland, these would instead be levels 10 to 12, respectively.
Due to this, the AAT Level 4 is not equal to a degree, which is level 6/10 or above. However, it is the equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree as well as a higher national certificate (HNC).
Where do you study for an AAT qualification?
There are a range of ways that you can study an AAT qualification. Where you study your qualification is completely up to you.
You may want to study in-person in a classroom. This can be great option if you’re looking for a little bit more support as you can have your tutor’s help in-person and right when you need it.
You can also study online or through distance learning. This can be a great option if you are looking for more flexibility in your studies as this option can make it easier to fit everything in. It can also be great if accessing an in-person training provider would be difficult.
Alternatively, you may want the best of both worlds with blended learning. This mode of study allows you to benefit from much of the more direct support of your tutor while also retaining much more flexibility than traditional classroom studying.
For these options, you will need to choose the training provider that will best suit your needs. You can check out the ‘Find a training provider’ feature of the AAT website here.
However, you may not want to use a training provider and instead to self-study the course. This option can be a bit more difficult as you won’t particularly have as much support.
Despite this, you will still need to get your self-study materials, such as a self-study package or the AAT textbooks, and you will also still need to register with AAT, like any other student. To learn more about where and how you can study for AAT qualifications, check out this guide by AAT.
How long is an AAT course?
The length of an AAT course will depend on which one you do and at what level you do it. It may also depend on your course provider.
An AAT qualification in accounting will typically last between 6 months and 18 months. To learn more about this, check out this page on the AAT website.
Bookkeeping qualifications from AAT may also be slightly shorter. While they will still differ depending on the level, an AAT bookkeeping course will generally last between 2 months and a year. To learn more about this, check out this page by AAT.
The AAT Level 1 Award in Business Skills will typically last between 2 and 3 months, depending on how it is studied. However, shorter courses in businesses skills may even be completed in half an hour. To learn more about this, check out this page on the AAT website.
How much does an AAT course cost?
There are a range of factors that can affect the cost of an AAT qualification. Primarily, these are the training provider, how you have chosen to study (e.g., in-person, online, etc.), the type and level of qualification and how you have paid for it (e.g., package deals, etc.).
Due to this, it is important to bear in mind that the following figures are likely to vary between different training providers and are only meant to give you a rough guide. Also, please note that these estimated prices are true for 2023.
At level 2, an AAT accounting qualification will generally cost between £772 and £2,172. This is a combination of the training provider’s fees, which will normally be between £600 and £2000 and the AAT registration fee which is £172 for UK students.
At level 3, an accounting AAT qualification will generally cost between £1,125 and £2,225. This is a combination of the training provider’s fees, which will normally be between £900 and £2000 and the AAT registration fee which is £225 for UK students.
At level 4, an accounting AAT qualification, will generally cost between £1,240 and £3,240. This is a combination of the training provider’s fees, which will often be between £1000 and £3000 and the AAT registration fee, which is £240 for UK students.
AAT vs ACCA
When considering different qualifications, it can be difficult to understand the differences between them and even which one would be best suited to you and your situation. This can be especially true for industries, such as accounting, as there is quite a vast range of different qualifications available to study. Two popular ones are AAT qualifications and ACCA qualifications.
What is an ACCA qualification?
An ACCA qualification is another type of accounting qualification that you can get. Similarly, to AAT qualifications, ACCA qualifications are available and recognised around the world.
To do an ACCA qualification as a UK student, you will need to have at least 2 A-Levels and 3 GCSEs, including English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.
If you don’t already have relevant qualifications in the field, you will start with the ACCA Diploma in Accounting and Business (RQF Level 4). This qualification will allow you to get a basis understanding within the accounting field before then going on to study the actual ACCA qualification.
The ACCA qualification has quite a lot involved for students to qualify at the end. For example, students will need to complete a minimum of 36 months of hands-on work experience as well as complete 3 stages of exams and an ‘Ethics and Professional Skills’ module.
To learn more about ACCA qualifications, check out this page on the ACCA website.
What are the differences between AAT and ACCA qualifications?
The primary difference between the AAT and ACCA qualifications is who they are aimed at and by extension the level that they are at. AAT qualifications are aimed at beginners to the accounting industry and the qualifications are made to give them the basis knowledge or the first step in their accounting careers. However, ACCA qualifications are aimed at those who are already accountants, and it gives them the opportunity to advance their career.
As the ACCA qualification is at a much more advanced level than the AAT, it is even possible to do both qualifications. For this, you would start with the AAT qualification, such as the AAT Level 4 in accounting and then do the ACCA qualification as you progress in your career.
Having done the AAT Level 4 may enable you to be exempt from having to do the Applied Knowledge section of the ACCA qualification. You can learn more about moving from an AAT qualification to an ACCA qualification by looking at this guide by ACCA.
To learn more about the differences between AAT and ACCA qualifications, check out this guide by Toronto School of Management.