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ICAEW Level 4 trailblazer in accountancy

ICAEW has joined employers, training providers and industry professionals to develop a new trailblazer standard in accountancy. The Level 4 trailblazer has been designed as an entry-level role in accountancy and is relevant to students working in business, practice, government and charities.

This alternative route in to the profession is ideal for school leavers who may not want to go to university, as well as professionals who are keen to re-train and take their career in a new direction. This option may also appeal to graduates who have studied for a non-related degree and are currently working in an accounting or finance position.

What’s involved?

There are two separate routes available to choose from: the examination route and the work experience route. Both routes will require apprentices to complete an on-programme assessment and a final end-point assessment, before they can qualify as an apprentice.


  • For new starts up to May 2017, the apprenticeship standard will be included in funding band 3, with a maximum government contribution of £6,000.
  • For new starts after May 2017, the apprenticeship standard will be included in funding band 9, with a maximum government contribution of £9,000.

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements, but the apprentice must have GCSE Pass in English and Maths when they attempt the EPA. Employers may wish to set additional entry criteria to suit their organisation.

Study options

The delivery of this apprenticeship can be flexible depending on the employer’s needs. We recommend that employers talk to a training provider about any requirements they may have, as they will be able to help you to design a programme to suit their business. Employers will need to choose an approved provider from the ESFA’s Register of Training Organisations (RoATP), which is available online now at gov.uk/esfa.


The trailblazer typically takes between 18–24 months to complete.

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The examination route

Apprentices on the examination route will study the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB). ICAEW CFAB is the first six Certificate Level exams of our ACA qualification. Students will study for each exam and gain the fundamentals in accountancy, finance and business.

They will gain knowledge in the following subjects:

  • Accounting: preparing and maintaining financial records, accounting records and financial statements.
  • Assurance: understanding the concept, process and need for assurance and internal controls.
  • Business and Finance: learning about business objectives, functions and structures, as well as the role of finance and governance.
  • Law: understanding company law, insolvency law and the impact of civil and criminal law on business and professional services.
  • Management Information: decision making on costing, pricing, budgeting, forecasting and performance management.
  • Principles of Taxation: understanding objectives and types of tax, as well as their ethics and administration.

The work experience route

Apprentices on the work experience route will need to demonstrate their competency through their practical work experience - this will be assessed through their completion of a training log and regular progress reviews. For more information about this route, please contact us.


On-programme assessment

This is designed to ensure that an apprentice is making good progress and is demonstrating the knowledge, skills and behaviours to qualify. For apprentices following the examination route, the on-programme assessment will comprise of a combination of the ICAEW CFAB exams and work experience.

Apprentices on the work experience route will have to complete a work-based assessment. The employer will have to make the final decision as to whether an apprentice is provisionally competent and able to progress on to the final end-point assessment.

End-point assessment

This is designed to assess all of the knowledge, skills and behaviours an apprentice should have developed throughout the course of their apprenticeship. The assessment should therefore take place at least 12 months in to the programme, to ensure that they are fully prepared.

The end-point assessment will comprise of the following:

  • a portfolio and reflective statement – apprentices will have to gather evidence to demonstrate how they have gained the right knowledge, skills and behaviours through their practical work experience; they will then need to produce a written statement or deliver a verbal presentation that reflects on their portfolio of evidence;
  • a role simulation – apprentices will undertake a case-study style exam, where they will work through a series of business-related bchallenges. This will be taken in timed, invigilated conditions. It will be graded and will have a pass mark of 70%.

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