BDO offers School Leavers a first class route to obtaining a professional qualification. 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.

To find out which qualification you will be studying for please check the job description of your chosen role.

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.


  • Commence studying towards High National Apprenticeship in Accountancy (HNA) and 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 your HNA
  • 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 (link to ACA page) or ACA/CTA (link to ACA/CTA page) 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 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.

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 three 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
  • Case study – covers all taxes.

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.

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

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.

An excellent foundation for a business career


School leavers

With BDO you can pick up highly-regarded professional qualifications.

Find out more

Summer school

Our Summer School programme is something we’re particularly proud of.

Find out more

Internship programme

For high-calibre undergraduates in their penultimate year of study.

Find out more

Meet our people

The simplest way to really get to know BDO is to meet us.

Find out more