Our Graduate programmes are typically three years, and include studying towards a professional qualification. When you complete the Graduate programme you will become a qualified accountant.

Onwards and upwards

Regardless of which graduate programme you choose to follow, our induction course will set you on your way. It’s an overall introduction to our business, as well as a chance to meet your fellow trainees. Friendships and internal networks are an important part of life here, and this is where it all begins.

From this point your Graduate programme will combine three key elements:

  • study towards your professional qualification
  • practical client experience and commercial awareness
  • tailored training programmes – covering both technical and client-facing skills

Graduates 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 information below tells you more about the training each business area requires. And to help you reach your decision, there are also videos of recent BDO trainees in the main disciplines.

Wherever and whenever you join us, we try to make training as flexible and productive as possible – setting you up for a life-long career.

We pay for all your professional qualifications in full. This includes paid study leave, exam fees, course fees, books and materials.

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.

Apart from paying for every aspect of your professional training, BDO will provide an extensive network of support – including mentors, partners and your individually assigned counselling manager, who will work with you from day one. Their role is to help you settle in during your first few months, to stretch you and help you realise your full potential during your training contract. You will also be given a ‘buddy’ before you start – another trainee who’s further through the programme.

There is also the Professional Qualifications Team, whose focus is to support you through your professional examinations.

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 taken by most Tax trainees in the form of the ACA/CTA joint programme.

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, depending on your exemptions from University, this may be less.
  • A minimum of three years relevant practical experience.
  • An online Structural Training Ethics module which you will need to take in either year 2 or 3.

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

Below we have outlined the typical path you would expect to take during your Graduate Programme if studying for the ACA.

1st YEAR

  • Familiarise yourself with the firm and our processes
  • Manage low risk areas within audit such as; testing cash, invoicing and verifying accounts


  • Start the training contract for the ACA.
  • Complete at least three exams across Certificate and Professional Level – this depends on the number of exemptions you have gained from your degree.

2nd YEAR

  • Manage more complex areas of a client’s audit.
  • Semi-senior position so able to delegate to first year Graduates.


  • Complete remaining Certificate and Professional Level exams.

3rd YEAR

  • Manage more complex areas of the audit.
  • Delegate work to year first and second year trainees.
  • Senior trainee and point of contact for clients.
  • Attend planning meetings and speak directly with managers and partners.


  • Complete three Advanced Level exams and case study to finish ACA qualification.

As you can see, the ACA is pretty challenging and won’t be an easy ride. 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. It will offer you an opportunity for enviable professional success, an internationally-diverse business career and fantastic rewards.

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

In order to become a tax practitioner, you can study to be a Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA). This may be as a single qualification or as a joint qualification alongside ACA. You’re likely to study for the single CTA qualification with us if you work in Private Client Services, Tax Disputes Resolution and Human Capital.

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.

By following our CTA tax training programme (whether as a single qualification or a joint qualification), you will learn how to be a skilled tax adviser. In addition to the qualification itself, you will be taught certain discipline-specific skills as part of our training partnership.

The CTA programme (taken as a single qualification) takes approximately two-and-a-half years, and will help you develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes that are not only essential for passing the exams, but also for building a successful tax career with us.

If you’re on the VAT (Indirect) stream of the single qualification programme, it takes about six months less time to complete. The joint qualification takes one year less but has the same objectives. Although the CTA element of the joint training programme is shorter, it forms part of a longer, three-year programme during which time you will also obtain the ACA qualification.

All the pathways of our CTA tax training programme are designed and delivered by our in-house team of qualified tutors. You benefit from a very generous amount of classroom learning (as compared with industry standards), accompanied and supported by your peers, as well as the opportunity for the completion of homework exercises, private study and work-based experience in the office. You will also be assigned a dedicated personal tutor.

We’ve outlined below the typical path you would expect to take as a graduate on our CTA programme, taken as a single qualification.

1st YEAR:

  • Getting to know the firm, our processes and clients
  • Plenty of shadowing more senior colleagues and managers to learn key skills


  • Law exams (CTA Direct Tax Pathway) – Computer Based Examinations
  • Ethics & Law exams (CTA Indirect Tax Pathway) – Computer Based Examinations

2nd YEAR:

  • Increase the amount of contact with clients
  • Less hand holding and shadowing of managers
  • With more responsibility delegating work to first years


  • Ethics exam (CTA Direct Pathway)
  • CTA Awareness Exams (CTA Direct and Indirect Pathways) in a single sitting
  • CTA Advisory Exam (CTA Indirect Pathway) in a single sitting

3rd YEAR:

  • Amount of clients you interact with increases
  • You attend more meetings and have even more interaction with clients
  • Take ownership of client relationships


  • CTA Advisory and Case Study exams (CTA Indirect Pathway only) in a single sitting
  • Two CTA Advisory and Case Study exams (CTA Direct Pathway only) over two sittings

The learning part of the Advisory and Case Study exams is undertaken throughout the programme.

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.

For more details on the CTA qualification, see www.tax.org.uk . Please be aware that qualifications and courses can be updated and are subject to change.

The CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) programme is designed to assess and certify talented individuals in the Information Systems (IS) audit, control and security professions.

To qualify as a CISA, you will need to:

  • pass the CISA examination
  • adhere to the Information Systems Audit and Control Association’s Code of Professional Ethics
  • submit evidence of a minimum of five years’ professional IS auditing, control or security work experience

The CISA qualification is the profession’s benchmark. The technical skills and practices it promotes and evaluates are key to success in the field. With a growing demand for skilled IS audit, control and security industry professionals, CISA has become the preferred programme for both individuals and organisations worldwide.

Study is blended with both college and online lectures, to allow for greater flexibility.

For more details, see www.isaca.org. Please be aware that qualifications and courses can be updated and are subject to change.

Our induction course will set you on your way


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BDO offers graduate programmes in a range of exciting business areas.

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