How do I Become a Chartered Accountant?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2017
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To become a chartered accountant typically entails belonging to a professional body that provides accounting and financial services while maintaining a significant level of professional development. The chartered accountant designation traces its origins to the United Kingdom in 1854, and it has since spread throughout the world. In the United States, chartered accountants are referred to as certified public accountants (CPAs). To become a chartered accountant, one has to get the formal education and certification required of the profession.

A person would need a degree from an institution of higher learning to become a chartered accountant. Prime examples of such institutions include the London School of Business & Finance (LSBF) in the U.K. and the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business in the U.S. The minimal educational requirement needed to become a chartered accountant is a bachelor's degree in accounting. In addition to learning how to prepare financial information or reports for individuals or businesses, students study other subject areas such as microeconomics and macroeconomics, statistics, business management, marketing, and accounting law and ethics.

Many employees, however, prefer people who have a master's degree in accounting or, better yet, a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with a specialization in accounting. A few colleges and universities also offer a Ph.D. in accounting for those who wish to become tenured professors, researchers and scholars in the field.

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The most important requirement needed to become a chartered accountant is getting a certification from a professional organization upon graduation. Certification is not mandatory for the practice of accounting, but it is necessary to earn the chartered accountant designation. It also enhances one's chances of employment in the job market since it indicates an adherence to a certain set of professional standards. In addition to this compliance, certification usually consists of meeting the minimum work experience requirements, passing an exam to gain the certification and taking continuing education requirements to maintain it.

In the U.K., chartered accountants must belong to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI). In the U.S., the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) awards the CPA title to accountants who pass its Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (Uniform CPA Exam). Canada, the Bahamas, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Ghana, and Trinidad and Tobago are some of the other countries that have chartered accountant organizations.

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anon301350
Post 3

In most countries, he cannot engage in public practice without a CA or CPA designation.

hamje32
Post 2

@miriam98 - My dad is retired, but he worked as an accountant. He wasn’t a CPA and it did affect his income potential, but it didn’t affect his ability to land accounting jobs.

He built his career in the oil industry, and like any other job, once you get the experience you become more valuable over time. I would argue that the CPA certification doesn’t really matter after that point, but I am sure that it opens doors for you to be able to work with some companies and not others.

I think it also impacts what kind of jobs you can take on within the company that you're working in.

miriam98
Post 1

My cousin recently graduated from college with a degree in accounting and is now working on finishing up his MBA. In addition, he has started taking the CPA exams.

From what he tells me there are several exams that you have to take and they are quite hard. He has been cramming with the study guide books for the past several weeks. He has also been taking some additional accounting courses to prepare him for the exam as well.

I asked him what would happen to his career if he didn’t get the CPA credential. He already landed a job with a big accounting firm, so it wouldn’t affect his ability to get a job I don’t think.

He told me that without the CPA credential he could still be an accountant but that there would be a cap on how much he could make and how far he could go with his career.

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