In early July 2016, the AAT launched their bookkeeping membership. This removed the requirement for students to complete AAT level 4, before they can gain any form of membership of AAT. Students can now become an AAT Bookkeeper.
With the new bookkeeping membership, a student who has completed their Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping and Level 3 Diploma in Accounting, can apply for membership of AAT as a bookkeeper. Bookkeeping membership gains you professional recognition, and allows you to put the letters AATQB after your name. You will gain access to a wide range of bookkeeping resources, and access to a bookkeeping community. There is no work experience requirement for bookkeeping membership.
Since the money laundering act of 2007, bookkeeping has been a regulated industry. Effectively, this means that as a bookkeeper, you must have someone who regulates you. This is someone who you can contact should you need to report any suspicions you may have of a client benefiting financially from breaking the law.
Previously AAT would only regulate you if you were level four qualified, and had six months of experience. HMRC regulated anyone who couldn’t get regulation from AAT. HMRC would take your money, ensure that you are “legal” but offer very little in terms of support. This meant that anyone wanting to be regulated by the AAT, but who just wanted to offer a traditional bookkeeping service, i.e. to go no further than trial balance, had to study limited company accounts and tax, even if they had no intention of offering these services.
AAT’s licencing rules have been changed to allow you to apply for a practice licence as a bookkeeping member of AAT; so you can set up your own bookkeeping practice. This enables students to start their bookkeeping practice much sooner in their studies than previously.
Services you can offer
AAT bookkeepers cannot offer every service though. You can offer the following services as a bookkeeper:
- Financial Accounts for sole traders and partnerships
- Computerised accounting systems
- VAT returns
You cannot offer any other service, for example, self-assessment tax returns. With the bookkeeping membership, you do not need any experience. However, to apply for a practice licence, where the AAT would regulate you for money laundering, you must have work experience in the service you wish to offer. Your experience needs to be checked by someone senior to you, who knows your work. Your tutor cannot verify your experience.
You also need somebody whom would be willing to act as professional referee. You must have known them professionally for 6 months, and they cannot be a family member.
If you have another qualification, you can apply to gain AAT bookkeeping membership from any of:
- ICB Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounts
- IAB level 3 Diploma in Bookkeeping
- IAB Level 3 Certificate in Accounting
The AAT bookkeeping membership allows people to start their bookkeeping practice whilst continuing with their studies in order to allow them to offer extra services. You can open a bookkeeping practice without having to study certain subjects, for example subjects you not interested in studying or in offering as a service. AAT Bookkeepers will receive full support of the AAT as a membership body.
If you are interested you can read more about our Bookkeeping Courses