The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) offers a certified accounting technician (CAT) designation that originates in the United Kingdom but is internationally recognized. It covers various topics in finance and accounting and aims to prepare candidates for both entry-level and management jobs in the fields of finance and accounting. As of July 2011, earning the designation involves passing nine exams that cover fundamental accounting and finance topics. Other requirements include fulfilling an experience requirement, passing a module on ethics and having at least one year of experience working in the accounting field before you can become a certified accounting technician.
You should enroll in a technical school or college that specializes in the CAT credential if you are serious about wanting to become a certified accounting technician. These programs typically consist of learning modules that correspond to each of the required exams. Many programs also result in a diploma in business and include introductory and intermediate accounting certificates. In addition to the required accounting and finance classes, each program requires a class in professional ethics, which is part of the requirements to become a certified accounting technician. The first portion of the program requires seven mandatory courses, but the last portion lets you choose from two of three advanced courses.
After you complete the required courses, you can take the corresponding exams. As of July 2011, you can choose from both computer-based and traditional paper-based examinations. Although the computer-based version of the exam is usually available throughout the year at licensed testing centers, the paper-based examinations are only available during certain parts of the year. The first seven exams focus on financial reporting, information management, financial records, cost and financial management, accounting for businesses, management accounting and financial accounting. Depending on the last two exams you select, you will take courses in taxation, financial management or auditing.
One year of supervised experience in a job related to accounting is required to become a certified accounting technician. You can gain this experience before, during or after you take your courses and complete your required exams. Upon completing your professional ethics course, passing all nine of the required exams and obtaining your one year of experience, you will receive the certified accounting technician credential. After one becomes a CAT, it also is common to gain more advanced credentials in finance and accounting, including the chartered certified accountant credential.