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How to Become a CA: Course and Qualifications

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Aiming to become a Chartered Accountant? Here’s all you need to know about how to become a CA. Manish Kumar, Pune-based CA talks about the qualifications, course and entrance, career prospects, and much more!

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1. Role of a Chartered Accountant

In order to have a better understanding of how to become a CA, let’s get started with what do they do. A chartered accountant’s key role is to give financial advice and counsel clients and businesses regarding their business transactions. They also maintain financial and accounting records, prepare financial statements and look into tax issues.

Contents: Jump to Section

1.1 Difference Between CA, CPA, and CMA
1.2 Is it a Good Career Option?
2.1 Courses Taken: CA Subjects
2.2 Entrance Exams
2.3 Academic Qualifications/ Options
2.4 License Required
2.5 Internship/ Work Experience Required
2.6 Cost of Tuition and Training
2.7 Competition &  Scope in India for Chartered Accountant
2.8 General Age to Start Professional Career for Chartered Accountants
2.9 Governing Bodies
3.1 Specializations/ Sub-Professions
3.2 Companies & Institutions that Employ Chartered Accountants
3.3 Growth Prospects
3.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities
3.5 What is the Salary of Chartered Accountant in India?
4.1 Top Universities in India
4.2 Top Universities in World
4.3 Famous Personalities
4.4 Useful Links

1.1 Difference Between CA, CPA, and CMA

Other similar degrees with slight nuances are as follows:

1 ) CPA – Certified Public Accountant: CPA course is for the accounting and finance profession licensed by the U.S.

2) CMA – Certified Management Accountant: CMA is a globally recognized certification that runs more on the lines of cost and management accounting.

Both degrees are similar to the degree of chartered accountancy, as they are in relation to accounting and finance. Comparatively chartered accountant is recognized by the Indian government and they are more popular in India.

1.2 Is it a Good Career Option?

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Chartered accountancy is a rewarding career option. Once you survive the initial burnouts and exam pressure then life as a chartered accountant is fun. Apart from the good salary, there are many other perks in this field such as standing a chance to establish your own firm, start working abroad, work from anywhere be it your couch or a comfortable cafe. The increasing demand for chartered accountants acts as a cherry on the cake. Hence, I’d say, it offers you a secure future.

2. How to Become a CA in India

In order to know how to become a CA, let us understand the different stages of clearing the entrance exam & CA course:

  1. Clear the Common Proficiency Test (CPT). This is the first test one needs to clear to get into CA course.
  2. Complete the Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC). This is the second level of the course. The exam is conducted twice a year.
  3. Do a CA course from Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).
  4. Clear the CA final: This is the final exam that one has to clear to be eligible to practise.
  5. After clearing these stages, a candidate is awarded the Certificate of Practice (CoP) and you can start practicing as a chartered accountant.

2.1 Courses Taken: Chartered Accountant Subjects

Accounting & taxation.

If you aspire to become a chartered accountant then there are a few subjects in which you can develop interest early on in life. Such topics include:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Taxation (Direct & Indirect)
  • Economics
  • Business law

Students often take up the commerce stream, but anyone from any stream is free to appear for the entrance. In addition to this, learning a foreign language of your choice can be a plus as that inevitably widens the area of your expertise and provides you the flexibility to practice abroad. Chartered accountants are globally recognized.

2.2 Entrance Exams

CPT

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In order to get into the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), one has to qualify the common entrance test (CPT). This is the first step towards becoming a Chartered Accountant. ICAI conducts the CA exams and courses all across the nation. For completing the course one has to qualify the CPT by securing at least 100 out of 200. Then take up the Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC) and appear for CA Finals.

2.3 Academic Qualifications

CA course

To know how to become a CA you need to know about the minimum qualifications. An aspirant is eligible to apply for the CPT right after they finish their matriculation but they are eligible to take up the common entrance test only after completing their Intermediate or 12th boards. Students from any stream like commerce, science, or arts can apply for this exam. On successfully qualifying CPT one can enroll in ICAI. Post completion of this course they reward you the license to practice as a Chartered Accountant.

2.4 License Required

Yes

Yes, after completion of the CA course, you need to apply for a Certificate of Practice (CoP) from ICAI.

2.5 Internship/ Work Experience Required

Yes

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Internships are beneficial for boosting practical understanding of work life. In some cases, it’s a choice but when it comes to being a chartered accountant, internships are a compulsion! Three years of internship or articleship is mandatory to acquire the Certificate of Practice. For attaining an internship you can contact practicing chartered accountants and start working under them to understand the job. You might wanna start adding a few of them to your LinkedIn profile staring from this moment!

2.6 Cost of Tuition and Training

50 thousand – 1 lakh

While completing the course one has to invest something between 50 thousand to 1 lakh, which is likely to be paid off well in the future. Aspirants often prefer taking private coaching classes, which cost somewhat between 1-5 lakhs.

2.7 Competition & Scope in India for Chartered Accountant

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The competition is just as huge as the scope. It’s a break-neck competition! Honestly, this is not to scare but to prepare you. Competition is an ongoing process in almost every sphere. Once you endure this phase then life as a chartered accountant is amazingly fulfilling with a good salary, at times hectic but fun work schedules, etc. Also, the demand for chartered accountants has only increased in the past few years.

2.8 General Age to Start Professional Career for Chartered Accountant

21-23 years

There aren’t any age barriers as such when it comes to being a chartered accountant, it depends on how efficiently you are working towards your goals and the number of attempts you take to clear the exams. If all goes well, and you qualify all three stages in the first go then you can start your professional career, as early as 21 years of age. Or you can start your career even in your mid-forties! It’s just a matter of choice but generally, people start their career at the age of 23.

2.9 Governing Bodies

ICAI

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is the national professional accounting body of India. It was established on the 1st of  July,1949 enacted by the parliament. It is the second-largest professional accounting and finance body in the world.

3. Professional Opportunities/ Career Growth for CA

3.1 Specializations/ Sub-Professions

Auditor, Tax Accountant

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There are many areas for example, accounting, taxation, investment banking, and finance, etc. in which you can specialize as per your own interest. Sub professions and job roles include working as an Auditor, Chief Finance Officer, Tax Accountant, Financial Controller, Accounts Clerk, etc.

3.2 Companies & Institutions That Employ CA

Infosys, Deloitte

Several firms employ chartered accountants including law firms, insurance firms, IT sector, banks, private firms, auditing, and stockbroking firms. In addition to this, every business irrespective of its size needs a chartered accountant to manage the finance. While talking about specific companies, Infosys, Indian Oil, Deloitte, are a few that you can look out for!

3.3 Growth Prospects

Promotion to the post of Chief Finance Officer.

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The job is rewarding but one has to be very patient and hard working. If you are working full time in an organization then you stand a chance to become the CFO (Chief Financial Officer). CFO as the name suggests is a senior-level executive. They are accountable for the enterprise’s financial well-being and prosperity.

3.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Yes

Chartered accountancy is one profession that will really boost your entrepreneurship skills. Almost every chartered accountant is eligible to start their own firm after a few years of practice. Most of them make good money, especially through their own private firms.

3.5 What is the Salary of CA in India?

6 lakh – 80 lakh per annum

On average, the starting salary of chartered accountants ranges somewhat between 6 to 8 lacs per annum. But the starting salary also depends on their prior experience and work ethics. One can easily alleviate their salary up to 30 lakhs per annum. In some cases, experienced chartered accountants have an annual turnover of around 80 lakhs.

4. Further Resources

4.1 Top Universities in India

It is a bit different in the case of CA when it comes to colleges or universities. You don’t get thousands of colleges to choose from. ICAI is the legal body that is responsible for conducting these exams all over India. You may compare this one with the Union Public Service Commission. Hence, students prefer taking their time alone to prepare for the tests and get themselves in ICAI.

4.2 Famous Personalities

Piyush Goyal, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

You can look up a few personalities to understand better about how to become a CA. My personal favorite is Mr. Piyush Goyal is a CA. Currently, he holds the position of Minister of Railways and Minister of Commerce and Industry under the Government of India. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, the popular stock investor, who is also known as the ‘Warren Buffet of India’ is also a chartered accountant by profession.

That was our guide on how to become a CA. In conclusion, the post of a chartered accountant is highly appreciated. The post brings in much respect and good fortune. But at the same time, cracking the exams or carrying on with a strenuous work schedule can be challenging. In the end it’s just the matter of patience, self-motivation, and energy that drives you to meet your goals!

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Curated & Edited by Rishika Agarwal (CareerNuts Staff)

Read next:

Chartered Accountant Career Path: Is it Right for You?

Are you good with numbers, and you love advising people on financial decisions? Becoming a Chartered Accountant can be a good career option for you. Discover all about CA career path, lifestyle & job role from Pune-based CA with 6 years of experience.

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