Many people think that it takes years and years of study to become an accountant or bookkeeper and while this can be the case, such as when studying for ACCA, it is not necessarily so.
By learning accounts in a “bit by bit” style, students can dedicate as much or as little time to their studies as they wish.
At the same time, they don’t need to make the same financial commitment up front that they would have to give to longer programmes.
Most people trying to qualify by the short courses route begin with a basic bookkeeping course where they learn the vocabulary used by the accountancy profession, such as credits, debits, assets and liabilities.
They’ll also learn the rudiments of cash accounting.
The next skills students develop are usually in purchase and sales ledger where they learn how to control the money coming into and out of the business.
These are steps on the way to learning double entry bookkeeping and how to extract a trial balance as part of final accounts.
With these skills firmly embedded, it is time for most students to take a short course in how to use Sage Line 50, the most commonly used accountancy software package in the UK.
Sage Line 50 allows students to extract valuable management information as well as enabling them to automate much of the accounting process.
It’s an essential pre-requisite for getting work as a bookkeeper or accountant.
Other accounting short courses cover payroll and also Microsoft Excel. Most students begin with a manual payroll course before moving on to Sage Payroll. It’s generally believed to be safer to learn payroll from the absolute basics before being let loose on a computer programme!
And when it comes to Excel, students need to learn to manipulate formulae, create charts and graphs and even use macros.
The beauty of short courses in bookkeeping and accounts is that students don’t have to be tied in to a strict timetable as is the case with a local college.
They can elect to study instead at a private training centre such as those operated by Pitman Training in London and Manchester.
Centres like these work on a “drop-in” basis, where students can choose their own study hours, learning by blending their attendance across a mixture of daytime study, evenings or Saturdays.
By nature the courses tend to measured in hours rather than terms, with a basic bookkeeping course requiring as little as 14 hours of study.
Of course none of this seeks to diminish the importance or value of longer programmes leading to such qualifications as ACCA or AAT.
It’s just that accounting short courses are a more convenient route to qualify for some people, depending on their personal circumstances.
The important thing, whatever your approach is to gain the skills you need to develop your career effectively.