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Public Sector Accountant Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Public Sector Accountant. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Public Sector Accountant
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Public Sector Accountant Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

This website features a volume of Job vacancies advertised on behalf of a number of different employers and specialist recruiters that post vacancies on a regular basis so you can start your search for work right here:-

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Working Duties Expected

Public sector accountants work for organisations such as the National Health Service, the Post Office, colleges and universities. They provide a service which aims to improve quality and operations within budgetary restrictions, and show that financial resources have been used efficiently.

Much of the work is the same as that done by accountants in the private sector and in industry and commerce. It includes:

  • preparing budgets and final accounts
  • controlling expenditure and cash flow
  • ensuring that funds given to different departments are spent properly and legal records of financial transactions are properly kept
  • designing and operating financial and management information systems
  • working as part of the management team
  • giving professional judgement on financial matters to management boards and elected bodies
  • helping to make sometimes difficult decisions about how money is spent.

External auditors monitor the financial operations of public sector organisations. This is done by national audit bodies such as the National Audit Office, the Audit Commission, Audit Scotland, the Northern Ireland Audit Office and also the audit service divisions of private firms of chartered accountants.

Hours and Environment

Public sector accountants usually work from 9am to 5pm five days a week, although extra hours may sometimes be required. Work is office-based, although travel is often necessary in order to attend meetings, advise committees and make site visits.

Skills and Interests

To be a public sector accountant you should:

  • be numerate
  • have an enquiring mind and problem solving skills
  • have a good knowledge of public services and how they are run
  • keep up-to-date with new legislation
  • have good spoken and written communication skills for report writing and making presentations
  • have the confidence to deal with sensitive information and give sound professional advice in sometimes difficult circumstances.


The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) provides the most relevant professional accountancy qualification for those working in financial management or accountancy in the public sector. Entry requirements are three GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) plus two A Levels, or equivalent qualifications.

Accountants in the public sector may also hold qualifications from other accountancy bodies, including:

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) entry requirements are three A levels at grade C or above and GCSEs (A-B)/S grades (1–2) in English and maths, or equivalent qualifications;
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) - entry requirements are two A levels/H grades or equivalent and three GCSEs/S grades covering five separate subjects altogether, including English and maths;
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) - entry is with three GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) including English and maths and two A levels/H grades or equivalent;
Association of International Accountants (AIA) - entry requirements are two A levels/ H grades or equivalent and three GCSEs/S grades including English and maths.
Entrants holding a degree in accountancy or business studies, HNC/HND in Business and Finance or Accounting or accounting technician qualifications may be exempt from part of the training. Full details of exemptions are available from the professional bodies.

For details of qualification equivalents see:

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
Scottish Qualifications Authority
An Access to Higher Education qualification may also be accepted for entry to certain courses. If experienced in a related field, you may be able to gain recognition of skills through Accredited Prior Learning (APL). Please check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements.

CIPFA runs two alternative entry routes for older entrants. Those over 25 years old with five years relevant experience can gain full exemption from the Foundation stage under the Fast-track Senior Entrants Route. Those over 21 with three years relevant work experience can apply for CIPFA training without the usual entry qualifications.

Note:Some employers / job advertisements make reference to CCAB qualifications as entry requirements. The CCAB is the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies, which is an advisory organisation made up of six professional accountancy bodies including some of those listed above. There is no CCAB qualification as such, however, reference to CCAB qualifications actually refers to qualifications awarded by the six professional bodies themselves. For more information on CCAB see contacts below.


To train with CIPFA, candidates should be employed in an accountancy, financial management or audit post to gain experience of all areas of work. Training is available through open learning, day release or block release and is at four levels:

Foundation Level - financial accounting, cost accounting and quantitative analysis, law and effective management skills;
Professional 1 - accounting theory and practice management accounting, audit, information and financial management;
Professional 2 - financial reporting and accountability, accounting for decision-making, public policy and taxation, business strategy and management;
Professional 3 - final test of professional competence, finance and management case study, examination and project.
Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (MAPPs) may be available for people aged 16-24.
For details see: MAPPs (England); Skillseekers MAPPs (Scotland); National Traineeships MAPPs (Wales); and MAPPs (Northern Ireland).


Opportunities for accountants in the public sector are growing across the country as more and more financial decisions are made at a local level. The sector is enormous and you could work in leisure, education, the environment, health and social services.

Accountants should have no trouble moving from private practice or industry and commerce into the public sector, or the other way round, in order to gain experience and to develop their careers. There are good opportunities to move into management positions. The chief executives and directors of many public sector organisations have accountancy qualifications.

Annual Income

The annual income section is intended as a guideline only.

A trainee accountant is likely to earn between £15,000 and £18,000 per year.
A recently qualified accountant would earn between £20,000 and £30,000.
An accountant working as a chief executive in a large public body could be paid in the region of £100,000.

Further information

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
64 Finnieston Square
G3 8DT
Tel: 0141 582 2000

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
3 Robert Street
Tel: 020 7407 9010

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
26 Chapter Street
Tel: 020 8849 2251

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Association of International Accountants
South Bank Building
Team Valley
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE11 0JS
Tel: 0191 482 4409

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
CA House
21 Haymarket Yards
EH12 5BH
Tel: 0131 347 0161

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland
11 Donegall Square South
Tel: 028 9032 1600

Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB)

The accountancy profession carries a wide and varied selection of different job roles. Here are some examples of related job positions in the accountancy sector:

• Analyst
• Auditor
• Company Secretary
• Cost Accountant
• Director
• Finance Manager
• Financial Controller
• Forensic Accountant
• Interim Manager
• Life Accountant
• Management Accountant
• Practice Manager
• Practice Partner
• Project Accountant
• Syndicate Accountant
• Systems Accountant
• Tax Accountant
• Trust Accountant
• Accounts Admin
• Assistant Accountant
• Credit Controller
• Graduate Trainee
• Ledger Clerk
• Legal Cashier
• Part Qualified
• Accounts Payroller
• Practice Accountant.

Other Useful Public Sector Accountant Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Public Sector Accountant job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Public Sector Accountant Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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