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Studying accountancy opens up a staggering range of career options. Every type of organisation needs someone who can balance the books. Accountants also play a key role in business development, corporate strategy and financial management.


Irish colleges offer a wide range of accountancy courses at higher certificate to honours degree level. Typical modules include:

  • Economics
  • Statistics
  • Corporate Finance
  • Banking
  • Business Law
  • Computer Applications in Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Auditing

Accounting at third level is also available to study as part of a joint degree. For example: with Law in University of Limerick or Athlone IT, Human Resource Management in the National College of Ireland, and with Finance in several colleges.

A graduate with an Accountancy degree cannot automatically start work as a professional accountant. Candidates must apply to join one of the professional bodies (see below). To become a member, you must pass a series of professional examinations. Students who graduate from an approved undergraduate and postgraduate accounting programmes are exempt.

Many graduates are able to work for accounting firms while taking their professional exams. The firms should allow trainees time off to study, and also cover the course and exam fees.

Another route is the Accounting Technician programme. Normally two years in length, this courses covers Financial Accounting, Management Accounting, Law and Ethics, Taxation, and Integrated Accounting Systems (IAS).

The Work

There is no set career path for accountants. They have increasingly diverse responsibilities in areas such as financial analysis, risk management, auditing and financial advising. After gaining some experience, many qualified accountants move into other areas of work, heading for such high-profile positions as chief financial officer or financial director. Nine out of the top ten Irish Stock Exchange companies have a chartered accountant as their financial director.

Most accounting technicians work under the direction of professional accountants or in smaller firms as the sole accounting employee. They work is on tasks such as payroll, managing inward/outward payments, and preparing financial reports. Accounting technicians are not qualified for high-powered tasks such as conducting audits or make strategic financial decisions.

A high proportion of qualified accountants work in business or industry. Many others take up positions in the Irish financial services sector, while the traditional career path into private practice is still popular. Qualified accountants are also highly sought after in the civil service.

If you were handy with your times tables in school then chances are you possess at least one of the desirable attributes for accountancy. An analytical mind is also useful, as is a keen interest in the world of business.

Did you know?

The modern system of double-entry accounting can be traced back to a textbook written by Franciscan Friar Luca dal Borgo, the ‘Father of Accounting’, which was based on the methods used by late 15th century Venetian merchants.

Further Resources

Chartered Accountants Ireland
Institute of Incorporated Public Accountants in Ireland
Accounting Technicians Ireland is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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