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What is Accountancy?

Accountancy, in a nutshell, is the process of managing all of an entity’s income and expenses.

This definition can be broken down as the systematic process of measuring, summarizing, and communicating financial information generated by bookkeeping to classify and explain account information to relevant parties such as shareholders and managers for them to make sound financial decisions.

The main distinction between bookkeeping and accounting is that accounting information assists in decision-making, whereas bookkeeping does not. Financial information can be used to forecast future financial developments, analyze various areas of the business, and assess business potential.

What Accountancy Courses Are Available?

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

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

Accounting at the 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 programs are exempt.

Many graduates can 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 program. Normally two years in length, these courses cover Financial Accounting, Management Accounting, Law and Ethics, Taxation, and Integrated Accounting Systems (IAS).

Studying Accountancy in College

The most common course to study for a career in accounting is a Diploma of Accounting.

When studying accounting you will acquire knowledge about the laws that govern business, typical business administration schemes, the ethics of accountancy, statistics, and accounting theory. You’ll be taught how to prepare the key documents that your job will involve, including business proposals, financial statements, and tax returns.

You will also have subjects that overlap with other finance-based courses. You will cover areas such as quantitative analytics and mathematics – studying accounting means knowing your way around maths and inferring results from numbers.

Degrees in Accounting & Finance include:

  • BA Hons Accounting
  • BA Hons Finance
  • BA Hons Accounting & Finance

Joint degrees commonly couple Accounting & Finance with Economics, Mathematics or Business. You might be assessed through coursework, written examinations, verbal presentations, and ongoing assessments such as seminar involvement.

Career Options

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

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 a 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.

Related Jobs

Roles related to an Accounting & Finance degree include:

  • Accounting technician
  • Chartered accountant
  • Forensic accountant
  • Investment banker
  • Stockbroker
  • Tax adviser
  • Actuary
  • Data analyst
  • Economist
  • Retail banker

Further Study

Many institutions offer:

  • MA Accounting & Finance
  • MSc Accounting & Finance
  • Pre-Masters Accounting
  • PgDip in Business Management & Accounting


What is the highest qualification in accountancy?


That would be Associate Chartered Certified Accountant – ACCA (Associate Chartered Certified Accountant)

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has 586,000 members and students in 170 countries and is one of the largest and fastest-growing accounting qualification providers in the world.

What is a Chartered Accountant?

Chartered Accountants are Ireland’s leading business professionals, providing critical strategic advice across all business sectors. They play critical roles in modern organizations, and as a result, they are regarded as the most respected members of the accounting profession.

Today’s Chartered Accountant typically works in a dynamic global environment, in roles as diverse as corporate leadership, management accountant, business analyst, or sales management.

How many years does it take to be an accountant?

For most accounting jobs, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years to complete. Once you’re out of school, you can take on an entry-level position like staff accountant, tax staff, or junior internal auditor.

Where Can I Study Accountancy?

Explore your options here

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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