Junior Accountant in Need of Advice - Should I quit my job to peruse education?

Hi all,

I'm 24 and currently an Assistant Management Accountant at an SME with over 3 years post university experience. I am studying towards CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants).

I am considering handing in my notice without another job lined up and taking some time out so either 6 months by which time I'd be a part-qualified accountant (worth 35k starting) or take a full year off work and just get the qualification done (starting 45-50k).

My current job pays a measly just under 22k when I've seen similar assistant accounting roles with a few years of experience paying 28-30k in my area. My job since it has not been mandatory in recent times is not allowing me to work from home at all and the study support which the recruiter duped me into thinking is fantastic is only the book and a question bank per exam (worth £250..).

As the studying has been difficult and slow with being tired going to the office everyday I feel like I want to finish this ASAP and not spend my 20s declining friends events as I'm "too busy studying this weekend".

I have been good with saving and my investments and current account in total are worth just under £60,000. I live at home, pay £100 a month rent, cheap 10 year old car not on finance and my only other financial obligations are my phone contract and gym membership (food at home).

I understand this is a lucky situation as most people qualify while working (takes forever even in 30s).

I have just tested the water and barely applied and already got 2 final interviews soon. One is a remote job 27k and the other is 1 day a week office the rest remote 30-35k. I am led to believe that finding a job in south-east UK in my field isn't a problem.

Would it be wise to quit my job (With my savings the juice time wise isn't worth the squeeze at this job) and study full time using my own money to fund classrooms even it if sets me back 6-7k in total and then just get a better job (or even while studying)? Or do you guys suggest not taking time off? My only concern is the potential "Career Gap" future employers may see. But with minimal time and study support I am so tempted just to get it over and done with and move on with my life.

Many thanks! :)



  • If you are wanting just the higher salary i would say move jobs, studying will always impact your social life.

    I did the same CIMA course however it was via the AAT to CIMA route so had it all done before i turned 22.

    As you are still young i would recommend maybe let the social life take a break and put your head down and finish the course if you can catch the exam quarters you could finish within 24 months depending which levels you are currently at, whether you do that whilst working or not is a decision only you can make. 
  • Invest in your self, you are young, but make sure you are passionate about what you are doing
  • MalMonroe
    MalMonroe Posts: 5,783
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    edited 19 January 2022 at 3:52PM
    You said this "I am considering handing in my notice without another job lined up and taking some time out so either 6 months by which time I'd be a part-qualified accountant (worth 35k starting) or take a full year off work and just get the qualification done (starting 45-50k)."

    But then you said this "
    already got 2 final interviews soon. One is a remote job 27k and the other is 1 day a week office the rest remote 30-35k. I am led to believe that finding a job in south-east UK in my field isn't a problem."

    So it's difficult to know which one you are committed to - studying or working. 

    As someone who graduated at the age of 53 (better late than never but I should have done it MUCH earlier - life got in the way), I'd always advise studying more and building on your knowledge and expertise. It's not a lifetime commitment but it will be of great benefit. And for you, your best time would appear to be now. No major responsibilities but contributing to your own living costs. 

    What does seem clear is that you're not at all happy with your current job and need a change. So why not go studying? It's a great investment for your future. And also if you are so tired, you could always pop to see your GP for a check up. I know working and studying is tiring because I've done it but I also did have time to meet up with friends.

    Like you say, you do need to have fun as well and see friends so you get a good work/life balance. And you're young enough to get a good job at the end of your studying. Employers always like to appoint people who are keen to get on and who are prepared to put the study in. (If there are employers who don't, they aren't worth bothering with.)

    My advice : take that year out to study and improve your chances of a better, more fulfilling occupation. After all, you're going to be working for a long time! (Not to be rude.) And a year will really fly by! (Or is that just me?)     :)
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  • I’m a chartered accountant, although I qualified a long time ago. Like you I qualified whilst working a full time job, with tons of (unpaid) overtime too, plus studying. Often I’d end up studying after work until midnight and beyond. It took many years and it was completely and utterly exhausting, so I feel your pain. I had no life at all. My relationships suffered, my social life was non-existent. At the end I was burnt out and exhausted, and my mental health was appalling. The up-side was that the  difference in salary once I qualified was staggering. My income literally doubled overnight, which was nice, but tbh I’m not sure I could (or would) do it again. No-one realises just how tough those exams are, and doing them while working a full time job is an incredible pressure.

    I guess what I’m building up to is: do what you feel is right for you. If you take a gap to finish your studies, will it have an impact on your career? The conventional thinking is that it might, but I seriously doubt it. My son took 9 months off after his Masters degree (in data science) to take a break and pursue some additional private online courses. It had no impact on his ability to get a job, because on the job application forms there were options to say that he had been studying/pursuing a private project, and he had to briefly describe what he’d done during his time away from employment. He ended up with a lot of job offers at a significantly higher salary – partially because of the courses he had taken during his time away from work.
    So studying is definitely a valid gap in your c.v.

    My advice is: Get qualified, get the exams done. Then you can get your life back.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    'In the widening gap between credits and debits hangs a question: What parts of this life are you willing to give up, so you can keep on living?'
    (Jessica Bruder, Nomadland)
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,446
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    As you're only paying £100 a month to live at home it's not surprising you've managed to accumulate £60,000 in savings/investments!
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • asajj
    asajj Posts: 5,124
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    My advice is: Get qualified, get the exams done. Then you can get your life back.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    This. It is a whole new world once you qualified.
  • theoretica
    theoretica Posts: 12,223
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    Would you really study full time?  I would say I would and then fritter too much time away - but you may be more focussed than I am. 
    Are there any part time roles, would either of the job offers let you take them part time?  Half time job and half time studying might be a good combination.
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  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 46,726
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    Move to a company that offers better support while studying, there are many out there.

    My son has just finished ACA with one of the larger firms and had study leave, time off for paid study courses and a whole lot of support. As well as a line manager he had a study support manager. There are firms out there that look after their staff, you just need to find them.
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  • It's a myth that you lose your social life if you want to study. I've recently qualified and had the majority of my social life whilst working full time too. I did the exams from start to finish, with no exceptions, in the qualified time. This isn't about me though, you can juggle all three by just planning. Target exams and dates, study when you don't have plans and then in the final couple of weeks before an exam, devote your non working time to then. Repeat the process for each exam.

    Yes most companies offer better support than what you quote and there is also the option to do it via an apprenticeship now which is more cost effective for firms too. You also have to have 3 years practical experience when you qualify so if you haven't got that, it could make things difficult. So I'd find a better job that pays better and has better support, plan, enjoy your life and know that in your free time you have got a few hours you can put into the books.
  • Emmia
    Emmia Posts: 2,930
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    As someone doing a Law conversion course + full time work (on compressed hours) I'd say it looks like (as you have £60k in the bank) and low living costs you can afford to take a year to study and pass the exams, and in your situation I would focus on that.

    I'm only working and studying simultaneously as I want the same salary (handy to pay the fees + mortgage) and to ensure that I maintain my workplace pension contributions.

    I'm twice your age though... and undecided about a full career switch.
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