About this sector
You can read information about role responsibilities, salary, working hours, what to expect, qualifications, skills, work experience, career prospects and related roles on the following websites:
How to gain experience/internships
Although not essential, relevant work experience can be advantageous and allow you to describe to potential employers your reasons for wanting to train as an tax adviser or tax inspector.
- HM Revenue and Customs does not run a formal internship scheme, but it may be possible to get a work experience placement. Write to the office which you would like to go to for work experience, addressing your letter "FAO work experience coordinator".
- The large professional services firms run structured tax internship programmes which can often lead to a graduate job offer. You should apply as early as you can once applications open. Places fill up quickly (especially in popular offices, eg Edinburgh and London). Regularly check the employers' websites for vacancy updates. Although summer internships tend to be aimed at penultimate year students, check these larger firms' websites for details of insight days for students of earlier years.
Job search websites
Other ways to get experience/opportunities for 1st and 2nd year students
- Student Ladder lists work placements aimed at first and 2nd year students. Check out the Consultancy/Professional Services category
- Potential employers will also be impressed by other types of work experience and involvement in extra-curricular activities, where you can show how you have developed relevant transferable skills or 'competencies' such as teamwork, communication, leadership and commercial/business awareness. A Treasurer role can give you useful experience managing the accounts for a student society or sports club.
How to get a (graduate) job
Graduate training schemes
- Graduate training schemes are common in this sector. The larger employers look for graduates of any discipline but some small accountancy firms prefer relevant degrees. Support is typically provided by employers in the form of financial support and time to attend the courses and exams.
- The 'Big 4' tend to open their applications at the end of July, for graduates to commence work in September of the following year. This means that popular offices (eg Edinburgh and London) fill more quickly than some others. The vacancy situation can also change throughout the year as each business evaluates its requirements - it is not unknown for a few vacancies to be advertised up until a couple of weeks before the start date. There may also be opportunities to start working at other times of the year, eg in the spring. Regularly check the employers websites for vacancy updates. The professional bodies' websites below are important sources of up-to-date vacancy information for medium-sized and smaller firms.
Job search websites for graduate training schemes
- Accountancy firms provide a number of routes to consider. You may undertake the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) qualification before moving on to the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification - this will take approximately 3 years in total. An alternative is to study for a Chartered Accountancy (CA/ACA) qualification in combination with, or followed by, the appropriate tax qualification. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland now offers the ICAS Tax Professional (ITP) programme which can result in a dual CA/ITP qualification in 3 years. Similarly, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) offers a joint ACA CTA programme taken over 3-4 years. Each of the qualifications require completion of examinations along with specified types of carefully monitored and recorded work experience.
Applications, interviews and assessment centres
Graduate training schemes (Professional Services Firms)
The selection process for tax graduate training schemes varies between employers, but is typically in three or four parts:
- An online application form
- Online tests
- Interview - often by telephone or skype; may be face-to-face and included within AC
- Assessment Centre (AC) - sometimes including interview with partner/director
- Interview with partner/director
You need to be aware of what the recruiters are looking for. Typically, large employers use 'competency-based' selection processes but there have been some developments: EY uses strengths-based recruitment and Deloitte assesses intellectual capability, values and motivations. Read employers' websites and brochures carefully.
HMRC Graduate Programme (Tax Professional)
You will need to complete an application form and the selection process has three stages. Full details can be found on the HMRC website.
There are four stage 1 tests which may include:
- civil service initial sift test
- numerical reasoning
- verbal reasoning
- work style questionnaire
You will be asked to take an online analytical skills test and a deductive reasoning test.
A 1-day assessment
Relevant Postgraduate Study - is it a requirement?
A postgraduate qualification is not normally required or expected by companies employing trainee tax advisers from any degree discipline in the UK.
Key UK resources
Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:
- Book an appointment with a careers adviser
- Search for vacancies (Job Shop, internships/work experience, graduate jobs)
- Register for events
- The Careers Centre subscribes to GoinGlobal, a specialist website with information and job vacancies worldwide.
- Target:City and Finance
- Inside Careers: Chartered Tax Advisers
Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines