UK Studing year out or whilst working CIMA?


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Hi,

I am currently a post grad chemist and have been working as a finance assistant for the past 2 years. I am studying towards my CIMA qualification, however I have only managed to take 1 exam in the year. I struggle to manage work life and exams and am usually too tired at the end of the day to revise (I have been diagnosed with ME a couple of years ago).

I have saved up quite a lot in the past two years, so I was debating whether to take a year out to focus on my exams or continue to revise at this slow rate whilst working. I know the exams are only going to get harder and harder and with no exceptions I have a to complete the basic certificate (4 more exams) and the full professional certificate (12 exams).

I was just wondering if some senior accountants/ FC’s (employers) can give me advise on this, I have heard both sides my colleague for pro and recruiters as for not to take a year off (though I understand they may be biased). Any help or advise on the matter as I am stressing out so much of this decision.


Many thanks,


Suzy
 
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Hey Suzy,

I would say that's a good thing to do in in today's chaotic times. If you're struggling with the balance then better to focus on one or the other. From a recruitment perspective , as long as you explain that reason when you go to interview with employers its fine. Its not like you were wasting time, you would be enhancing your skills and knowledge and making yourself more marketable. Just ensure the year out is productive and you have passed as many exams during that time as possible.

The other point I would make is that Experience is golden - nothing beats it. You would learn ten times more skills and ideas whilst practically working as opposed to not. So if your role is giving you lots of opportunity for growth and your learning things constantly-then it may be worth sticking with it and doing one exam at a time - at a slow pace. Whether your qualify now or 4 years later makes no difference if you don't have solid accounting experience in your closet.

Personally I passed my ACCA exams in 3 years from start to finish whilst working in a junior role. By the time I qualified not only did I have the exams done but also a lot of experience on my CV - my salary jumped by £16k overnight. Recruiters were ringing me like the stock exchange.
Compare that to qualifying your CIMA with not much experience - doesn't necessarily paint an attractive picture for employers , if you want that step up.

So even after returning back after a year you may expect to continue in the same role and level. Just comes down to what is your priority right now , quicker career growth vs. work life balance.

Might be worth discussing with your employer how they can help you out in terms of studying and flexible hours etc.

Make sure you exhaust your options before making the decision to take a year out from employment.

Hope that helps. All the best

Mohsin
ACCA
 

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