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What Qualifications Can I Gain on a School Leaver Programme?

School leaver programmes offer more than just great work experience in the business and finance world; they also feature some nifty professional qualification study along the way to arm you with some heavy credentials for serious career progression when you finish. And the employer will pay for these studies!

So what could I study for on a school leaver programme?

The type of qualification you will work towards rests on where your focus lies for your particular scheme. It’s also partially to do with your employer’s preferences; there are a number of professional qualifications out there that cover quite similar syllabuses and they may want you to take on a course that would be the most fitting and complementary to what you do for them in the office.

If you’re specialising in audit and accounting then you could start out on the CFAB (the Certificate of Finance, Accounting and Business). This is a kind of foundation qualification from the Institute of Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) which will help you to find your feet with various aspects of how business and finances as you get stuck into the initial stages of working life and training.  

School leaver programmes in retail, private or business banking can take a slightly different direction, with foundation certificates such as the PBC (Professional Banker Certificate) with the Chartered Banker Institute.

Once you’ve completed a foundation certificate (if your employer wants you to do one), it’s time to move on up to much more heavyweight qualifications such as the ACA or the ACCA (if you’re an accounting whizz) or perhaps the AAT if tax is your bag.

Some firms brand their sponsored degrees as school leaver programmes, so they include study for a degree qualification alongside the professional qualifications that set you up for career progression. Degree disciplines are typically subjects like accounting, auditing, finance or business management to fit in nicely with your career choice.

Chartered status glory!

Chartered status is the prized chalice professional qualifications in a career in business and finance. It’s the cherry on top that says to employers and potential clients that you’re the real deal. It will take you a few years to get to this stage because you’ll need to be able to prove you’ve had a certain level of experience in particular dealings, but once you’ve got there you can class yourself amongst top performers in your field.

Some school leaver programmes will include obtaining chartered status as one of the final stages of a five- or six-year scheme. Common chartered status qualifications are the CA (Chartered Accountant) with ICAEW or the CB (Chartered Banker). 

When you’re done, you’ll have a wealth of work experience and qualifications in comparison to a lot of your peers who have taken alternative routes. And just think of the amount of letters you could add to the end of your name! Impressive stuff.

By Jos Weale, Editor, AllAboutFinanceCareers.com