When choosing a career in the finance and accounting services sector it is important to take cognisance of the different kinds of occupations that are available. It is also important to note that there are different pathways into these careers. These pathways are often linked to membership of professional bodies and they lead to different career opportunities.
Finance and accounting services professionals may belong to one or more professional bodies. Although professional body membership is in many instances not a prerequisite to practise in a financial occupation, in some instances it is a requirement. Employers also often prefer to appoint people who are members of the professional bodies.
The advantage for the employer is that a professional designation, or title, is a good indication of the skills of the financial professional; people who are members of professional bodies are bound to a strict code of conduct that helps to ensure that they will be ethical in their behaviour.
Although there are different pathways which one can follow in building a financial career, the career paths are not silos that lead only in one direction. It is possible to move between the different career paths. For example, it is possible for an auditor to become a management accountant or financial manager in an organisation outside the finance and accounting sector. Similarly, it is possible for an accountant to become an internal auditor. However, in planning your career it is important to take cognisance of the registration and other legal requirements in certain of the pathways.
When choosing an educational institution, make sure that you choose the stream that best suits your particular interests. Also ensure that the training institution is accredited with the professional body with which you would like to register or with which you would like to become a member. In the section to follow we explain the typical learning paths that lead to the different professional qualifications. However, all these qualifications can be obtained by combining theoretical and practical work. That means that you can study part-time to complete the theoretical parts of the work while at the same time doing the practical work through a learnership.