Chartered Accountant Qualification

Last Updated on August 10, 2022

AAT and Other Qualifications Series: AAT to CIMA - Aspiring Accountants

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Overview of Chartered Accountant Qualification

If you’re interested in becoming an accountant or even if you’re in the market for accounting services, you may have wondered about the term “chartered accountant.” Also referred to as CA, this type of professional is one that offers a number of significant benefits, but whose position is less in the spotlight than other form of accounting professionals, according to ICAEW.

What Is a Chartered Accountant

Chartered accountant designation is worldwide, and it refers to professional accountants who are qualified to take on a number of specific activities within the spectrum of accountancy. Such tasks include auditing financial statements, filing of corporate tax returns and financial advising. While the name is seen around the globe, in the United States, the equivalent position is known as a certified public accountant, or CPA. The professional body that governs this group of accounting workers goes back to 1854 where it was founded in Britain. There are now several associations that act as governing and accrediting bodies for these professionals, such as the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

What Chartered Accountants Do

There are four areas in which these accountancy professionals serve. They are taxation, financial accounting and reporting, applied finance and management accounting. The specialization an accountant chooses determines under which umbrella he or she works. Chartered accountants can wear a number of hats. It’s possible that they may oversee a corporation or business’s entire accountancy needs. They may have a more narrow function such as being in charge of just one aspect of a business like auditing or taxes. Many of these highly skilled workers will go out on their own as freelancers or consultants for hire.

How to Become a Chartered Accountant

How to become a chartered accountant depends upon the country where you want to work, as each has its own requirements for certification. Regardless of specifics, chartered accountants do meet more stringent academic and practical requirements than other levels of accountant. In most cases, there is a standard bachelor’s level degree consisting of coursework in business and accounting subjects, followed by a practicum or internship or some kind and then a specific program in chartered accounting principals. A person must be quite dedicated in order to achieve the rank of CA, but the position is a well-respected one that usually carries a higher salary than other types of accountant.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Chartered Accountant?

How long does it take to become a chartered accountant? This is a question many learners ask us when planning out their accounting career. Depending where you are in your accounting career, it could take on average three to seven years to become a chartered accountant. It’s well worth knowing what path you need to take and which qualifications are best placed to help you attain chartered status.

Becoming a chartered accountant is the dream for many accountants. Not only does chartered status demonstrate your ethical and professional commitments, it also offers you greater flexibility in your career.

You will need to decide if you want to become a chartered accountant, or a management accountant, as this will determine which qualification you need to study.

Minimum requirements to become a chartered accountant

Your path to becoming a chartered accountant doesn’t need to be rigid, but you’ll need a foundation in accounting. You’ll need to have either a degree in accounting or AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting. If you’re just starting off in your accounting career, becoming qualified with AAT is the ideal way to work towards chartered status.

Become qualified with ACCA

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a leading provider of accounting courses and professional membership for accountants. If you want to further your career then becoming qualified with ACCA is essential.

ACCA offers three units that make up a full qualification which give you a deeper understanding of the strategic elements of accounting and finance:

  • ACCA Applied Knowledge
  • ACCA Applied Skills
  • ACCA Strategic Professional

As a minimum, you need 5 GCSEs and 2 A levels to study Applied Knowledge. If you have completed AAT Professional Diploma then you are exempt from the first three units of ACCA Applied Knowledge (AB, MA, FA), which can save you about six months of study time.

If you have an accounting degree from a recognised university you could be exempt from ACCA Applied Knowledge, which could save nearly two years of study time.

ACCA gives you up to ten years to complete the full qualification, but if you choose to sit four exams per year, you could complete in around four years around full-time work and commitments.  If you study part-time or even full time, you could become qualified more quickly, within three years with hard work and dedication.

Once you have gained your qualification, you can apply for chartered status with ACCA. You will normally need a portfolio of work and at least three years of experience in a relevant accounting role. Your previous experience whilst undertaking your studies will count towards the required experience.

Becoming a chartered management accountant with CIMA

A management accountant’s role is vastly different from a traditional accounting role. Taking a broad view of the finances of the company, you will gather financial information to help support business decisions.

CIMA currently offer three management accounting qualifications:

  • CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting – four units and a synoptic exam
  • CIMA Diploma in Management Accounting – three operational level units and a synoptic exam
  • CIMA Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting – three management level and three strategic level units and a synoptic exam

CIMA have two exam periods per year, and learners can sit two units per exam session, meaning the full CIMA qualification could be achieved in four years.

If you have an AAT Professional Diploma, you don’t need to study the CIMA Certificate in Business accounting, meaning you could become qualified in two to three years.

To achieve chartered status you will need to submit an application to CIMA. You will need to provide evidence of your work experience and potentially a portfolio of work.

Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint

Studying a relevant qualification in accounting opens many doors, and it’s tempting to see if you can fast-track your progress. It’s important to remember that studying is a journey in itself, and hurrying through units could hamper your chance of passing exams. How much time and energy you dedicate to studying will also impact how quickly you can progress through your qualification.

Your unique position and experience will impact where you can start on your path to becoming a chartered accountant. You will also need to gain relevant work experience to support everything you’ve learned on throughout your studies. Becoming a chartered accountant or chartered management accountant is a fulfilling career and opens many doors to running your own business or promotion to director level within your own business.

Reasons Chartered Accountants Are in Demand

There are a number of reasons why a business, corporation or individual would want to hire a chartered accountant. Many financial and accounting matters are quite sensitive and require someone incredibly knowledgable to undertake them. Business people want to feel assured that their monetary issues are being competently handled, without worry of legal ramifications or errors that could cost them money. They want to hire the best and most qualified accountants.

If you are concerned about respect, excellent financial rewards, prestige, and great prospects, CA is a perfect profession to start with.

Chartered Accountants are the people to create a difference and wherever they work, they create something relevant and different as well. They are talented, ambitious, and in demand.

Working hard to become a chartered accountant will make you different and becoming Chartered will make a unique way for business training and traditional accountancy. The qualification of CA is globally respected and prestigious that will adore with skills, values, and knowledge for which many look after and want to become the highly regarded business professionals also.

The qualification of CA includes relevant practical experience along with the professional study. To learn about the CA qualification, you need to fit into the ICAS’ entry requirements for this route.

Reasons Making It Separate Out From Other Fields:

If you have the plan to build a career in accountancy, finance, and business, then Chartered Accountant is the way to reach there.

Here are the reasons which make it a better choice for other professions:

1.) Interesting Career:

The stereotype thought is that the CA is a dull and boring professionals. Although, the reality is very different. As a chartered accountant, you will learn what is required to make a business keep running.

ICAS CAs play a very important role and they have amazing careers too, they work from the Rio Olympics to top brand names and build a strong business environment.

2.) A Good Choice:

The degree with ICAS Chartered Accountant (CA) opens various ways for a personality. After completing highly respected CA qualifications, you can start working in various firms like a business, finance, and accountancy.

To pace with the global financial centres, government bodies, accountancy firms and becoming a CA plays a way to success. The chartered accountancy also provides a perfect way to set up your own business.

3.) A Secure Future:

Companies in respect of the size, require a chartered accountant. Chartered accountancy is considered as the recession-proof professions in the UK. if you decide to become a chartered accountant, your career is secure and stable with strong demand for skills.

4.) Work Anywhere:

The demand for CA is not only limited to a home country but also in a foreign country. The ICAS CA qualification is respectful all across the world. Now, more than 14% of ICAS members are working in a foreign country. So, the CA career has a wide scope.

5.) Great Perks:

From the starting phase only, CA earns a good amount of salaries as compared to banking, general management, and law based persons. With the qualifications, you can make from £26,000 to £50,000 in a year for the decide career path.

Future salary perspective for CAs are also good and as per the recent salary survey, above 40% of ICAS members have received an above-inflation pay rise in the year 2015.

Various Myths Regarding CAs:

Here are the five top CA myths, everybody needs to know:

Myth 1: There are Only Numbers to Deal

Numbers are important for a chartered accountant. Although, this is not the fact that they only deal with numbers.

CAs are trained to meet the broad skill set. Further, they build a different set of skills and can run their own business as well. They also motivate, lead, work on existing projects of bigger brands and horn the negotiation skills regarding the multi-million-pound deals. Dealing with a number is just a starting phase as further you have more choices in career also.

Myth 2: Equal Opportunities For All

Now, 45% of students are females and consist of 35% of the current membership. Career aspects are also nice and around 60% of finance executives agree to more opportunities for females in accountancy than previous.

Female members have also achieved a good remark such an as entrepreneur Kirsty Dingwall CA running an independent business, entrepreneur Kirsty Dingwall CA is CEO of PURE Spa and Beauty, and Laila Giwa CA is Head of Finance (EMEA and India) at Skullcandy. The hard work and ambitions are important to pay dividends.

Myth 3: A Spreadsheet Wizard

All the required knowledge is taught to CAs in the basics of finance and accountancy which build a strong basis for you to deal with the course and work.

Myth 4: ICAS Is Foreign

Instead of history of ICAS is Scottish based, this is not a Scottish Institute. It is a first professional accountancy firm, founded in 1854. From the day of establishment, it has created a spread and turns into a professional community in India and across the world as well.

Myth 5: University Education Required

There is no need to go to university, you can become a CA after finishing school, although you must be having an A-level or higher scorecard to show up. This way makes it complete in five years.

At the same time, they are trained to get experience with an ICAS authorized employer. There are also ways to dive into CA career after finishing the school and take part in the business world.

Being a CA, recognition and respect can be acquired easily. Wherever you go, the peers, employees will always be appreciating you for capability, dynamics, versatile business thoughts, and forward-thinking.

So, if you thinking to start your career as a CA professional, go ahead without putting a second thought in mind.

Finally, if yours directing towards the CA-based vast career and professional by origin, you have stopped at the best point as out CA Portal provides you with the best of the knowledge and resources regarding chartered accountant and to help you towards outreaching your client in a better manner via online platform.

How to Become a Chartered Accountant

Becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA) is a challenging yet rewarding career decision. This designation demonstrates that you have mastery in accounting. As well, this profession can offer excellent job prospects on a global scale, desirable starting salaries, and job flexibility. As well, Chartered Accountants work in a wide range of industries, from the financial sector to private businesses to public service. The track to becoming a Chartered Accountant requires that you obtain a solid education and professional training, and that you pass qualifying examinations.

Part1

Getting an Education in Chartered Accountancy

  1. Choose a path. There are a number of different paths you can take under the heading of Chartered Accountancy. Some of these include Chartered Accountant (Audit), Chartered Certified Accountant, Chartered Management Accountant, Chartered Public and Finance Accountant. These vary depending on the training emphasis you have, size of organization you work for, whether you work in management, and so on.
    • Ask yourself questions about the type of professional career you’d like. For example, what size firm would you like to work for? Do you want to have a private practice? Do you want to work for nonprofit organizations or for-profit businesses?
    • As you get more training and experience, you’ll get a better idea of the aspects you like and don’t like.
  2. Get an undergraduate degree. Enroll in a four-year accredited university program. Aim for a degree in accounting, economics, or business. If you already have an undergraduate degree, it doesn’t necessarily matter if your degree is not in one of these subject areas. You will, however, need to take extra classes to hone your skills in numeracy and other accounting-related subjects.
    • Get good grades in your classes, especially in any math- or business-related classes.
    • Alternately, some professional organizations will accept a 2-year accounting associate degree as a foundational education for an aspiring Chartered Accountant.
  3. Take courses in subject areas pertaining to accounting. If you have an undergraduate degree in a subject area unrelated to accounting or business, enroll in classes on accounting or economics at a local college. Courses might include accounting, taxation, finance, auditing, and statistics.
  4. Enroll in a chartered accountant prep program. Some accountancy programs offer programs that prepare you to start a CA training program. These programs give you education in specific subject areas to build your numeracy skills and other areas.
  5. Enroll in a chartered accountant training program. In a CA training program, you will take classes to build your competencies in key subject areas, such as finance, taxation, financial accounting and law. These courses may be offered in person or online.
    • Some training programs, such as the program offered by Chartered Accountants Ireland, consist of courses that prepare you directly for the examinations. For example, in Ireland, you will register for the Chartered Accountant Proficiency 1 (CAP1) exam, which covers Finance, Management Accounting, Financial Accounting, Taxation, and Law for Accountants. The syllabus for the course describes the learning outcomes and weighting for the course’s exam.
    • Some programs are offered for working professionals who already have jobs and who have experience in the financial sector. Check with your local organization to learn more about the options for working professionals.

Part2

Getting Professional Experience

  1. 1Apply for a professional experience placement. A core requirement of the Chartered Accountant is to gain three years of professional experience with an approved employer. These employers are usually accounting firms or financial firms that are registered with the CA professional association in your region.
    • Search for placements in your region by checking with your CA professional association.
    • Apply for placements in your industry of choice.
    • If you want to work for an organization that is not authorized, you may be able to register your manager as someone who is authorized to evaluate your performance and growth. Check with your CA professional association to see if this is an option.
  2. 2Work in a professional placement for 3 years. Once you have been hired in your placement, you will work in this organization for 3 years in order to gain experience in the company. Some placements rotate you through different divisions of the company so that you gain exposure to several different lines of business.[7]
  3. 3Submit a report of your professional competencies. As you progress through your professional training, keep track of your achievements and competencies. At the end of your 3-year program, you will need to submit an evaluation of your competencies.
    • In some regions in Britain, this is called an Achievement Log. In Canada, it is known as the Record of CA Qualifying Experience (RQE).
  4. 4Get additional professional experience. If you are living in a country where you are not a citizen, you may need to get additional experience in that country to qualify to become a Chartered Accountant. Some of your home country experience will likely count towards your qualifications, but getting experience in the local context will be useful and possibly necessary.

Part3

Taking the Qualifying Exams

  1. Schedule your exams. Some regions will test you incrementally. When you finish one phase of your education, you will be tested, and then you will progress to the next phase. There will also be final comprehensive exams, which often are three-day testing sessions.
    • In Ireland, for example, you will take the Chartered Accountant Proficiency 1 (CAP1), Chartered Accountant Proficiency (CAP2), and the Final Admitting Examination (FAE). The CAP1 covers Finance, Management Accounting, Financial Accounting, Taxation, and Law for Accountants. CAP 2 covers Audit & Assurance, Strategic Finance & Management Accounting, Taxation and Financial Reporting. The FAE is a comprehensive final exam.
  2. Study for the exam well in advance. Do not try to wing it by coming into your exam unprepared. Also, don’t cram for the exam, thinking that you will absorb and retain all the information the day before the exam. Make a study plan that builds in plenty of time to study, working about a month out from your exam date.
    • Find a study partner to help you study. This could be someone else who is also taking the exam, or it might be someone who is already a Chartered Accountant.
    • Many work placements will give you some education leave so that you can take time off work to study for your exams.
  3. Take practice tests online. There are a number of practice tests for Chartered Accountancy exams available online. Check to make sure the practice tests are for your region and your exam, as the tests do vary from region to region.
  4. Confirm the time and location of your exam. Make sure you know when to arrive for your exam. Be sure to check out the location where you will be tested. Map out your route for getting there so that you can arrive early and get settled before the exam starts.
  5. Get a good night’s sleep. The night before your exam, be sure to get a good night’s sleep. Get about 7-8 hours of sleep. Try to relax as much as possible. If you are having trouble getting to sleep, try listening to some calming music.
  6. Eat a good breakfast. Fueling your body with a healthy breakfast will help you maintain focus and concentration throughout your exam.
  7. Take the qualifying examinations. Different countries and accountancy organizations have different examination formats, but all require that you pass an evaluation to become a Chartered Accountant.
    • There are different score minimums that you must attain; for example, you must achieve a minimum of 50% on your exams in Ireland in order to pass.
    • In Canada, for example,you’ll take the Uniform Evaluation, which is a three-day, national exam that tests you on your competencies in responding to business simulations.

Part4

Joining the Professional Field

  1. Become a member of a recognized accountancy organization. Your region will likely have a professional organization for Chartered Accountants. Once you have gained your professional experience and you have passed your examinations, you are eligible to become a member of this organization.
  2. Comply with your organization’s standards. Once certified, chartered accountants are monitored and supervised by their home institute, and must comply with all rules and standards established by these organizations to retain their certification.
  3. Apply for jobs. Polish your resume, including your new training and certification as a Chartered Accountant. Send your resume and a cover letter to accountancy firms.
    • Alternately, you might be hired on permanently at the company where you had your professional placement.
  4. Find a mentor. Locating someone who can serve as a mentor as you build your career can be helpful. This person might be a former supervisor or another contact you’ve made in the field. They can help you determine strategic career paths, help you connect with other professionals, and give you career advice.
  5. Network in your field. Build your professional contacts in your field by networking with other Chartered Accountants. Join LinkedIn and other social media sites to connect with professionals. Attend networking events held by your professional association.

Chartered Accountant Salary

Essential Information

Accountants of all types are responsible for the financial efficiency of a business or organization. While having the same duties as other accountants, a chartered accountant (CA) has completed additional postgraduate education, and a period of mentored work experience. Although this position is only available outside of the United States, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) title in the U.S. is an approximate equivalent.

Career and Education Requirements

Degree LevelBachelor’s degree then 2 years of postgraduate classes
Degree Field(s)Finance-related field
Licensure/CertificationLicensure varies by country
Experience3 years of mentored work under a certified accountant
Key SkillsAptitude for numbers and attention to detail; accounting and communication skills
Job Outlook (2018-2028)6% growth
Annual Salary (2018)$43,650-$122,840 (for most accountants and auditors)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

While all accounting positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in a finance-related field for employment, a chartered accountant is an accountant distinguished from his or her peers by the successful completion an additional two years of postgraduate education, as well as three years of mentored work experience under an experienced CA. These positions are commonly held abroad, with licensing agencies in many countries including Ireland, Canada, Australia, India and the United Kingdom. In addition, a CA must belong to a Chartered Accountant Institute in order to earn licensure to legally hold the Chartered Accountant title.

Job Duties

Chartered accountants work in fields of accounting, including public, management and government accounting. While specific job duties vary greatly within specific positions, many duties shared between CAs include preparing financial reports and documents, maintaining records of investments, reviewing potential financial and providing professional opinions in regards to the fiscal decisions of the firm.

Salary and Job Growth Information

The salary of an accountant can be highly dependent on the size of the organization and the industry or nation of employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t provide employment and salary information for international job titles, but it does have information for U.S. accountants and auditors. According to May 2018 BLS salary data, most accountants and auditors earned between $43,650 and $122,840.

Chartered accountants can work in all sectors of industry, including public, private and governmental agencies. While around half of all chartered accountants work in commerce, financial services and banking, common employers of chartered accountants include educational institutions, local government offices and private accounting firms. The BLS expects growth for accountants and auditors in the U.S. to be about average at 6% over the 2018-2028 decade. Due to the additional education and training requirements of a CA, job prospects for CAs should be better in comparison to their non-chartered counterparts.

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