As part of our 4 year Apprenticeship programme, BDO will support you through a professional qualification as well as your Level 7 Accountancy/Taxation Professional Apprenticeship*, the equivalent of a Master’s Degree.

This means that on successful completion of your programme, you’ll complete your relevant qualification and have developed the skills and behaviours that you’ll require for your future success.

*Please note that the Level 7 Accountancy/Taxation Professional Apprenticeship covers: ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW and CIoT qualification pathways.

BDO is fully committed to the government initiative to increase learning and training through apprenticeship standards in the accountancy profession. Therefore, as part of your school leaver programme, you’ll sign up to these apprenticeship standards.

Onwards and upwards

Depending on the role you have applied to, you’ll start by studying an entry level qualification of either the CFAB, ATT or AAT. Once you have completed this you will go on to study towards the ACA, CTA, ACA/CTA joint qualification or ACCA.

Running alongside your professional training are a range of additional courses to progress your development. For example, these might help you write compelling reports or bring more professionalism to your presentations. It’s also important to remember that an accountancy qualification provides you with an excellent foundation for a business career in any field.

Trainees ordinarily find that certain business areas suit their interests and skills more than others. To help you make that choice, we’ve included details of the training programmes in this section.

The Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB) from ICAEW gives you practical and essential knowledge that can be used in any industry or financial area. The certificate comprises the same six modules that make up the first stage of the ACA, which is recognised and valued globally.

They are: Business and Finance, Management Information, Accounting, Law, Assurance and Principles of Taxation. Study is a flexible blend of both college and online lectures. Once you have successfully completed all six modules you will be awarded the CFAB qualification.

Below we have outlined the typical path you would expect to take during your School Leaver Programme if studying for the CFAB.

1st YEAR

  • Work closely with managers to complete projects and administrative duties
  • Gain an understanding of how a small business works and how BDO positions itself to clients
  • Plenty of support from managers and senior managers
  • Compliance based project work on smaller businesses.


  • Complete first 3 exams for the Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB) qualifications
  • Assessment takes the form of coursework and practical tasks.

2nd YEAR

  • Look after larger clients
  • More independence – building your own professional relationships and network
  • Direct contact with clients
  • Still lots of support from managers and others.


  • Complete the final three CFAB exams after which you will be fully CFAB qualified.

After completing and passing your CFAB you will move onto the next stage of the School Leaver Programme – studying for your ACA or ACA/CTA qualification.

For more details, see the ICAEW website

Once you have studied and achieved the CFAB qualification you will continue to work and study towards the ACA.

The ACA, through the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), is regarded worldwide as a premier financial business qualification. The ACA is our main qualification for the Audit business area and is also taken by most trainees in our business.

Studying for it won’t be an easy ride, and you’ll need to be hard-working, committed and determined. But once achieved, your qualification will be recognised worldwide as a sign of quality and professionalism. And will offer you enviable professional success, an internationally-diverse business career and fantastic rewards.

To achieve the ACA, you must complete a training contract lasting a minimum of three years and sit the Institute exams which are made up of:

  • 15 exams, but you’ll have already done 6 of these in the previous 2 years in order to complete your CFAB qualification
  • A minimum of three years relevant practical experience
  • An online Structural Training Ethics module which you will need to take in either year 4 or 5.

All study is made up of a blend of college and online lectures, for greater flexibility.

Below we have outlined the typical path you would expect to take whilst studying for the ACA, starting with your 3rd year (after the CFAB taking up the first two):

3rd YEAR

  • More responsibility, autonomy and independence in the work you carry out
  • More interaction with even larger clients and attendance at meetings.


  • Commence ACA training contract
  • Complete 3 professional level exams.

4th YEAR

  • Get involved a wider variety of projects such as advisory work etc.
  • Diversify client interaction by providing them with other services BDO offers.


  • Complete three Professional Level and Advanced Level papers.
  • Complete case study and Advanced Level paper to finish ACA qualification.

For more details, see the ICAEW website. Please be aware that qualifications and courses can be updated and are subject to change.

For the joint qualification you take the CTA Advisory paper as one of the final papers of your ACA qualification and the CTA Case Study exam after you have completed the ACA qualification. You also have to study for the Ethics Computer Based Assessment which has to be passed before you enter for the CTA Case Study exams.

The joint CTA/ACA qualification is if you work in Corporate Tax. The CTA qualification is awarded by the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), the leading professional body for taxation in the UK. Membership of the CIOT is recognised as the gold standard for tax specialists.

The first two years will be spent studying towards the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) qualification. Once you’ve successfully completed ATT you will continue your studies towards the CTA over the next two years. This provides in-depth knowledge of specific technical matters across the broad range of taxation disciplines and is often seen as a key qualification for Tax practitioners. The CTA route will see you sit the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) exam which covers General Taxations, Interaction of Taxes, Practice Ethics and Administration and some further specialist areas.

Study blends college and online lectures, to allow for greater flexibility.

For more information, see and
Please be aware that qualifications and courses can be updated and are subject to change.

1st  YEAR

  • Company tax returns and computations. Personal tax returns. Being involved in projects within the Senior Accounting Officer department – working with clients, tax investigations, travelling to different sites etc.
  • Get involved in organising societies and events within the office such as away days, socials etc.


  • Commence ATT training contract
  • Commence 18 month apprenticeship which runs alongside ATT. Need to take separate

law and ethics e-learning papers, three written exams and online learning

  • One exam in Personal Tax.

2nd YEAR

  • Expand on work undertaken in 1st year – more involvement in reporting, creating them from scratch etc.
  • Delegate smaller computations to 1st year School Leavers.
  • Start tax investigations.


  • Business Tax exam
  • Personal Tax exam
  • Optional paper – pick one of the following VAT, business compliance, corporation tax or inheritance tax
  • Complete 18 month apprenticeship.

3rd YEAR

  • Advisory work – expanding senior accounting officer work
  • Get more involved in client meetings
  • Prepare communications to be sent to the client
  • Increase independence in work. Give guidance and training.


  • Commence CTA training – 3 professional exams – pick two of 5 as ‘specialist level’ papers depending on which are most relevant to work being completed, then one more general ‘awareness level’ paper

4th YEAR

  • Scope for delegating and managing increases
  • Increased face-to-face contact with clients
  • Independent meetings on client site


  • Complete exams and case study if not completed over 3rd year


  • If exams and case studies are completed, finish CTA qualification by logging enough hours to complete required amount
  • Sit any resits that need to be taken.

The AAT Accounting Qualification is a globally recognised qualification, valued by leading employers and clients.

This qualification will start you on the path to a successful accounting and finance career. It is suitable whether you’re starting out, already working in finance, or looking to gain the skills to change career.

Through the three qualification levels, you’ll learn practical skills to add value on all projects in the workplace, from basic finance administration skills, preparing final accounts, through to complex management accounting tasks. The AAT can be completed as a standalone qualification or it can provide progression opportunities to further AAT qualifications and other professional accounting bodies such as the ACCA.

All study blends college and online lectures, for greater flexibility.

For more information, see Please be aware that qualifications and courses can be updated and are subject to change.`

The CA qualification is a prestigious and internationally respected qualification that will provide you with the knowledge, skills and values to be highly regarded and sought-after business professional.

The CA qualification is comprised of professional study and relevant practical experience. To study for the CA qualification, you must meet ICAS’ entry requirements for your chosen route. Find out more information about the CA qualification and the qualification structure.

The qualification is credit rated at Level 11 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) with the qualification sitting at the same level of a Masters degree, and it is recognised nationally and internationally at this level.

The ICAS qualification is a prestigious and internationally respected qualification that will provide you with the knowledge, skills and values to be a highly regarded and sought-after business professional.

We try to make training as flexible and relevant as we can for all trainees. And we believe there’s no substitute for first-hand experience. Learning is a two-way process. We will work with you to develop your potential to be the best. But to get the most from the programme, you must be willing to move out of your comfort zone, reflect on your experiences and develop new and creative solutions.

Our learning management system, iLearn, is designed to be a one-stop-shop for all learning activities at the firm – covering both technical and client-facing skills. It combines simple and convenient virtual learning online with face-to-face training and development.

As well as offering you technical seminars and courses that build the specialist knowledge and practical skills you need for your business area, we’ll also train you in a range of personal, management, client service and client-winning skills. This supports our strategy of putting clients first and helping businesses succeed by developing fully-rounded and versatile individuals to work for us.

Later in your training, you’re likely to be involved in bids for new BDO work. Our experienced bid team will be ready to offer you advice on strategy, help you to develop key messages and differentiators, and coach you in putting together presentations to potential clients.

An excellent foundation for a business career



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