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student insights

How to find a training agreement

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 01 Aug 2023

young man student glasses laptop studying training agreement ICAEW students accountant

Are you an independent student? If so, you’ll need a training agreement to complete the ACA.

All students pursuing the ACA qualification need to complete a training agreement with an ICAEW Authorised Training Employer (ATE). Without a training agreement, even if you are passing your exams with flying colours, you will not be able to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

What is a training agreement?

An ACA training agreement is the joint agreement between you and an ICAEW-authorised employer. It is specific to your ACA training and is not the same as an employment contract. The agreement outlines the support that you will receive from your employer and what is expected from you in return in relation to your training. 

Without a training agreement in place, you will not be able to complete your practical work experience, work on your professional development, attend the six-monthly reviews which monitor and record your work progress, or take the Advanced Level Case Study exam.

Your training agreement may cover:

  • Start date
  • The number of exam attempts your employer will support
  • Study leave time and fitting in exams around your work commitments

Finding an employer

As an independent student, you will need to secure a training agreement with an ATE or authorised training principal (ATP). If your firm is not already an ATE, they may be interested in becoming one. It’s free and easy for them to apply, but they’d need to nominate a person as a Qualified Person Responsible for Training (QPRT), who would ensure that ICAEW’s training standards were being maintained and sign off your ACA training. 

Alternatively, you can utilise researching employers you are interested in working for to see if there are any opportunities available. This includes looking at local company directories, direct on organisation’s websites, company listings and more. 

You can also search for a role on ICAEW’s Training Vacancies platform, which features around 325 live jobs each month. You can search by keywords (such as ‘ACA trainee’ or your preferred industry), as well as specifying location and salary. All the training roles listed on the platform will be suitable for students. Some companies will be looking for students who are part-qualified with exams already. 

When should I get a training agreement?

Your 450 days’ practical work experience – which does not include sick leave, holidays, study leave, off the job training or office administration – will normally take between three and five years to complete, so it’s important to secure a training agreement as soon as possible after you start your student journey to ensure you can complete your qualification. It can take a while to secure a training agreement, but ICAEW are here to support you.

See the roadmap for independent students for what a typical first year would look like in terms of your priorities. And don’t forget that once you secure a training agreement, you will need to monitor your progress with your employer in your six monthly reviews and log the days you have worked in your online training file.

What if I already have some prior relevant work experience?

In some circumstances, work experience obtained before entering your training agreement can be considered. It must have been gained within the 24-month period preceding registration and can only be from an office authorised by ICAEW to train chartered accountancy students. Detailed guidance can be found on the credit for prior work experience form.

Find an Authorised Training Employer using ICAEW Training Vacancies. And contact the student support team for additional support.

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