How to Become a Chartered Accountant? – Do Chartered Accountants Remain Unemployed?

A chartered accountant (CA) has several career options as it is a highly regarded professional degree. You can become a CA by completing the required educational and work hours and passing the exam.

Let’s discuss what career options chartered accountants have and do they remain unemployed.

What is a Chartered Accountant (CA)?

A Chartered Accountant (CA) is a designated accounting professional accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in different countries.

It is an internationally accredited certification program offered mainly by the Chartered body of accountants. The chartered institute then has several controlling bodies in different countries.

Each accounting body creates the syllabus of the chartered accountancy program according to local laws and requirements.

CA programs are offered worldwide except in some countries including the US. the equivalent program of CA in the US is Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

A chartered accountant is a qualified accountant who is entitled to perform different types of accounting, auditing, financial, business management, and taxation tasks.

A chartered accountant can perform various types of tasks depending on the experience and other qualifications of the qualified person.

For example, a chartered accountant at the early stage of their career may only be able to perform accounts receivable and payable tasks. While a senior CA would be performing financial consultation role in the same company with the same qualification.

How to Become a Chartered Accountant?

You do not need a specific course or degree before you can pursue the chartered accountancy designation program.

Here are a few key steps to becoming a chartered accountant.

Complete Your Formal Education

You can enroll in a chartered accounting program with a higher school certificate as well. However, you’ll need to start with the certification level then.

Most CAs around the world pursue the chartered accountancy program after completing at least a bachelor’s degree. You’ll be better of if you complete the bachelor’s degree with a finance or accounting major.

Enroll in a Chartered Accounting Program

The next step is to enroll in the chartered accounting training program. You must find an accredited institute recognized by the chartered institute of accountants in your country.

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You may pursue the chartered accountancy program through international chartered bodies like the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Some universities or financial institutes may offer the CA training program online too. You can enroll in a program through your employer as well.

Gain Relevant Industry Experience

The chartered accountant bodies require their members to complete a certain number of work hours in particular industries with specific work experience.

So, it’s a wise move to start searching for relevant work experience as you pursue the training program. You can complete the work experience along with your training or after completing the educational hours.

Make sure to gain the relevant experience required by the chartered accounting body as it will be tested during your examinations.

Take the Exam

Once you gain the relevant work experience and complete your training, you can take the exam to earn your CA designation.

Depending on the policies of the CA body in your country, your examinations may be conducted by the institute in which you enrolled or by a third-party organization like the British Council.

The CA body will determine the passing score for all your papers at each certification level. You must pass all papers with the minimum required score.

Continuous Work and Training Requirements

Once you pass the exam, you’ll legally be entitled to work as a Chartered Accountant in your country. The CA bodies have partnership programs that earn you similar badges to use in different countries.

You must continue to work in the relevant accounting field and undertake specific training programs as a continuous study requirement from the CA body though.

The idea of continuous education is to keep CAs updated with the latest industry trends and requirements of the evolving accounting industry around the world.

What Do Chartered Accountants Do?

A chartered accountant can perform several accounting, financial, auditing, and taxation tasks for an employer.

  • The core task of CAs is to perform financial accounting tasks for an employer. These tasks include the preparation of financial statements, analyzing cash flows, reviewing income expenses, and so on.
  • CAs are qualified accountants to perform auditing and reviews of financial statements for a company as well.
  • Another important task for CAs is to prepare taxation documents and file taxes with the relevant authorities.
  • CAs also perform financial management, consultation, strategic analysis, debt structuring, cash flow analysis, and other managerial tasks at the highest level in a company.
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In practice, a qualified CA can perform any task relevant to accounting and financial skills depending on experience and training.

Career Options for Chartered Accountants

A chartered accountant may begin a career as a junior accounting clerk but soon progress to the post of a CFO.

Some key roles that a CA can perform fall into these categories:

  • Auditing and Assurance
  • Business Management
  • Taxation
  • Corporate Finance
  • Charities and NFPs
  • Forensic Accounting

As a CA, you’ve got endless career opportunities to choose from. You can specialize by skill or by industry to gain better exposure.

A typical career path of a chartered accountant starts as an accountant. It then moves to the mid-level post of senior accountant or controller.

As an executive, a CA can become a director of the finance department or Chief Finance Officer (CFO) in larger companies.

As mentioned above, the career path of a CA can change dramatically in a short period. We can categorize the roles undertaken by CAs into traditional and futuristic roles as below.

Traditional Roles

Traditional roles for chartered accountants include financial accounting, financial planning, taxation, internal auditing, external auditing, and financial controllers.

Similarly, in corporate finance, CAs undertake the roles of corporate finance executives, treasury controllers, financial analysts, and credit analysts.

Some traditional global roles for CAs are in the field of investment fund management and fund operations.

Futuristic Roles to Consider

As the expectations from CAs are evolving around the world, we can anticipate a more diverse and multi-tasking role in the future.

  • CAs are expected to take more entrepreneurial roles and become their own bosses more often.
  • CAs are already undertaking challenging roles of heads of the supply chain, Chief operating officers, and heads of strategic departments in commercial finance.
  • CAs will undertake more job roles in IT auditing, risk compliance, data modeling, data mining, financial planning, and data insights.
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Salaries for Chartered Accountants

The average salary of a chartered accountant depends on several factors. Work experience is the most important factor along with the educational qualification of the CA member.

According to the popular job site, the average salary of a chartered accountant in the US is $60,969 per year. The salary range also changes by geographical location.

Similarly, another popular job site provides the average salary of a CA $65,776 per year in the US. Again, it depends on several factors, including experience, company, and geographical location.

Do Chartered Accountants Remain Unemployed?

The bureau of labor statistics in the US projected a 6% increase in the number of jobs for the accounting and auditing profession.

The growth in the jobs for this sector is almost the same as for other occupations. However, it does not mean that chartered accountants do not remain unemployed.

A vast number of CAs fail to get their dream jobs because they do not upskill. The job market is continuously evolving and CAs are expected to upgrade their hard and soft skills accordingly, too.

The accounting and auditing industry is generally congested one. So, we can expect a fair number of CAs to remain unemployed too.

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