The CA and CPA are fantastic accounting qualifications that can give your career a competitive edge. But how do you choose which one to study?
The importance of accounting qualifications
For an employee looking to make the next step in their career, any accountant with a CA or CPA have a competitive edge over those without one. Employees with a postgraduate accountancy qualification are looked on favourably by businesses. Employees with these qualifications tend to drive efficiencies and improvements in a company’s systems and processes. I believe qualified employees can have more exposure to the many aspects in an organisation than most other employees in a company.
The differences between CA and the CPA
The title accountant is not defined by law. A person working in a company as a bookkeeper without any qualifications can call themselves an accountant. This relates to the job being performed. This is different for a lawyer who must hold a law degree to be able to call themselves a lawyer.Because of this, if you require an accountant to look after your taxation returns and business structures you can choose a person with varying qualification levels, from none, to university and post graduate training.
Accountants who hold either a Chartered Accountant (CA) designation or a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) must be degree qualified, have completed a post graduate course and hold a practicing certificate from either of the above. Nearly all the large accounting firms are Chartered Accountants. They are also governed by the ethical and quality assurance regimes of these two bodies. Accounts who simply call themselves accountants who are not members of the above 2 peak bodies are not subject to their.
Engaging either a CA or CPA ensures your accountant has completed an undergraduate degree is accredited with either body, works to a code of ethics, is up-to-date with accounting and business practices and takes continuing educational classes to retain their practicing certificate.
When it comes to separating the two qualifications, there are some distinct differences.
If you would like to specialise in a particular technical function, then a Chartered Accountant qualification is a good choice. It can help you move into a financial controller or CFO-type role later in your career.
The CA course content is geared heavily toward auditing and tax matters and, from a technical perspective, those that obtain a CA qualification are better prepared to handle the more complex accounting issues. The knowledge you gained from CA qualification has been applicable on a practical level nearly every day of his career. The knowledge, insight and applied practice you gain is invaluable.
On the flipside, students wanting a broader focus on more varied accounting skills, such as costing, production, marketing and planning should opt for a CPA. A CPA can open many doors to many exciting industries around the world. You will become an active partner in the success of the company and a CPA will teach you how to diversify your thinking. This can lead to a career path in more management or innovative sectors of a business. CPA made you realise that accountants can have real impact on a business’ performance.
How to decide on an accounting qualification
The key question that arises is whether CPA benefit my career path or CA? There is no clear winner because both qualifications will help to grow your technical skills, accountancy skills and business management skills. Also, CPA and CA holders tend to be equally spread across commercial and public accounting – so each qualification provides maximum flexibility to work across industry.
Deciding on whether to pursue a Chartered Accountant or Certified Practising Accountant’s qualification is not an easy decision, and our interviewees had some pointers.
Firstly, you must have an open and honest discussion with your teacher, friends, colleauges, family friends, parents and peers about what you and they think is the best qualification that suits to your skills, the company’s business goals and your future career direction. Talk with your teacher, friends, colleauges, family friends, parents and peers and consider your options, taking into account where you’re at now as well as where you see yourself in five, 10 and 15 years. In addition, research the roles you want in the future and understand the skills and qualifications required for those roles.
Students preparing to embark on either a CPA or CA need to know that it will require a significant time investment and that there are no shortcuts. It requires a significant time commitment. You need to be dedicated and 100 per cent focused. Once completed, students gain access to a vast network of alumni, which opens up networking opportunities and international job postings.
The CA is an internationally recognised, respected and sought-after qualification, so it definitely helped open doors for you around the world that would have been harder to open without it.
Opportunities are limitless whether a student pursues a CA or CPA. Both qualifications can kick start a global career, however it is up to the student to decide which path they want to take.
The simple advice is to talk with your teacher, friends, colleauges, family friends, parents and peers about what you want from your career and the skills you wish to develop. Either way, you’ll be well positioned for a prosperous accountant career with the CPA or the CA designation next to your name.
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