What is a Chartered Accountant

A Chartered Accountant is an accountant that has been rewarded the highly prestigious ICAEW qualification. These accountants have usually earned their qualification working in an audit firm or a company that has been accepted as a training provider (which is not easy!).

These accountants can be found in many areas of finance, including firms, businesses, commerce and private equity.

Being a chartered accountant also offers excellent career prospects at the very top of the career ladder. As CEO.

20% of FTSE 100 (biggest companies in the UK) are accountants.


Chartered Accountants can usually attract an excellent salary. While it can depend on sector and location.

  • Starting salaries can be up to £30,000 a year for graduates.
  • Once fully qualified you can on average earn around £60,000 a year.
  • The average annual salary for a chartered accountant is £84,500. On top of this they earn an average bonus of £17,300.
  • Becoming a CFO of a business or Partner in a firm can award six figure plus salaries.


A Chartered Accountant requires 3 years of practical experience and to pass 15 exams. The final exams are often compared to passing a masters degree.

The practical experience is usually gained working in an accounting firm, where they will usually work on audit or tax. You can also get the practical experience working in one of the rare companies that are a training provider for ICAEW.

The exams are based over 3 levels.

  • Certificate level
  • Professional Level
  • Advanced Level

Certificate Level

In the first level you must pass six modules that give you a broad introduction to accounting.

  1. Accounting
  2. Assurance
  3. Management Information
  4. Business, Technology and Finance
  5. Principles of Taxation
  6. Law

Professional Level

The second level builds further on the Certificate Level. By this point you will have more practical experience to match against it, and the subjects will be more indepth.

  1. Financial Accounting and Reporting
  2. Audit and Assurance
  3. Business planning
  4. Tax Compliance
  5. Business Strategy and Technology
  6. Financial Management

Advanced Level

Now this is where it gets tough. You have three exams, with one being the final exam. The case study.

  1. Corporate Accounting
  2. Strategic Business Management
  3. Case Study ( a long exam that pulls together everything you have learnt.)


Being a chartered accountant is an excellent career path for anyone who wants the chance to reach the very top of a business.

Working at a large firm, such as EY, will allow you to work alongside some of the biggest national and international brands. These connections and experiences will give you a C.V that will be hard to match.

Once qualified you will be able to command a significant salary, which can become very high after several years.

It is a hard job, as firms are known to push their employees very hard. I have two family members who work for a big accountancy firm and they work far more than their contracted 9-5.

However, once they want more spare time they will have a fantastic CV that will land them a well paid and less frantic job in the private sector.