Accountancy as Second Career

I am a 48-year-old legacy programmer and have recently taken redundancy. I've heard there is little age bias in accountancy relative to other jobs, but how realistic (and expensive - I'm in London) would it be for me to
attempt to cross-train into accountancy? As an ex-programmer I'm highly detail-oriented and have worked on finance-based systems before. I have a degree (BA Joint Honours degree in French and German - never relevant to my actual job!).
What would be the best places to look on the web for a decent overview of the various types of accountancy?
Regards,
Adetola.
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Adetola Obembe wrote:

I cannot advise you regarding accounting in the UK; however, on a more personal level...
I've done exactly what you are contemplating and we are almost the same age as well. I've also worked in computers for many years supporting financial software... done the programming and system management.
Your computer skills are very much applicable in the accounting world because accounting is done on computers and because the nature of much computer work is itself detail-oriented.
I didn't shoot for the stars with my first accounting course, but I have now achieved an accounting clerk/bookkeeper level of competency and have the diploma from a recognized institution in Canada.
I'm now seeking employment at that level. Once I achieve that and get a little pure accounting experience under my belt I will reevaluate my options for the future. At this point I'm thinking those options will include pursuing a designation or perhaps settling at this level and opening my own business offering small business bookkeeping service and perhaps assistance with computers as well.
As for the age bias, well we have a wealth of experience and maturity to offer a potential employer... it is just a matter of finding the employer that will appreciate that. I'm finding many employers, intelligent as they are, cannot seem to connect the dots between my computer career and how that means I'm comfortable with any software tools and can easily learn new software tools.
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Thanks, Joe. I didn't know how feasible my ideas were, so your reply was very encouraging. I'm going to look at some courses in basic book-keeping (apparently they're desperate for book-keepers round here), and, like you, first find my feet rather than shoot straight for the stars, as you say.
Regards,
Adetola.

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Adetola Obembe wrote:

The age bias I think is mostly in public accounting, but it's really only for entry-level people, and here's why I think it's there: Unless you grew up in an accounting family or are just brilliant or spend all your time thinking about accounting, regardless of your grades in school, you have a LOT to learn in your first year in public accounting and it can be stressful and you can make a lot of stupid mistakes. There's just no way to get good at doing what public accountants do without actually doing it. Sometimes, bosses might want to yell or tell you how you could do things better. There will be many times when mistakes are pointed out to you. This just goes over better when an older person is doing this to someone in his or her twenties, as opposed to someone who is your own age telling you how you're doing things wrong. It's just... somewhat awkward for both parties when a 50-year-old is getting frustrated at another 50-year-old for doing things wrong as an entry-level person who's normally in his or her 20s. That's just how I see it.
Like I said, though, I don't think the bias is near as strong in industry. Industry in general is not as stressful and demanding as public accounting.
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Hi,
Thanks for your perspective. Stress is of course unavoidable in life/work, and we all have our different handles on it, but personally I'd choose for less where possible, so I'll certainly take heed of your advice and opt if possible for industry rather than public. I'm pretty open-minded and reasonably good at owning up to my mistakes, though, as it's the best way to learn, I find, and I suppose that attitude takes the heat out of situations. I do take a lot of care not to make mistakes in the first place, though, and my programs were renowned for their robustness. However, in any new subject I'll just have to accept that there are bound to be minefields waiting for me until I get to know the ropes!
Regards,
Adetola.

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I am in the same position that you are. I've been a programmer for years now (I'm in my early 40's), designing, implementing and training on accounting and order entry software. As it turns out, bookkeeping comes naturally to me. When I installed accounting systems, I knew so much more than the people I was training, and they made more money than I did (because I saw their payroll as part of the process!). There doesn't seem to be a future at my present company, so recently I've joined the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. They have a certification course, and I hope to become certified before the end of the year. This will say to potential employers that I do know my stuff. You may find something similar in your country. I purchased several books on opening my own bookkeeping service, but I don't know if I want to do that or just work for someone else, or perhaps a combination of both. Anyway, this is just a suggestion that you may want to look into.
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I'm puzzled about why you do not design your own accounting software. Maybe I can help you. :)
Meyer1228 wrote:

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It just doesn't excite me anymore, and I don't want to "reinvent the wheel." I'd rather implement something like Peachtree or Quickbooks, and make money from that and accounting training, and/or do small-business bookkeeping on the side.

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Of course, "reinvent the wheel" is not interesting. Let us forget programming this time. Software is just a tool like BMW and Benz, but we do not mind a Rolls-Royce. We do small-business bookkeeping, but it does not prevent us from selling the high performance accounting software. We use the car, we sell the cars. The issues are profit and competition. Is that interesting?
Meyer1228 wrote:

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wheel."
money
you can do that but make sure you have the marketing and people skills to go along with the technical side. Getting clients is half the battle and part of the other half is getting paid decently for your work!
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I'm 48 as well and you guys have me thinking I should look into accounting degree!
I currently do CAD design and ma tired of it
I'm also back in college pursuing a degree
You think an accounting degree a good one for me?
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