It takes great dedication and effort to become a Chartered Accountant (CA), and it is no secret that it is a difficult path to take. As a CA, you can practice your profession internationally, and you can work for multinational corporate firms that need financial and accounting services. Needless to say, this gives you the potential to earn a huge salary and be well-respected among your colleagues.
With all these perks, becoming a CA sounds very appealing. However, getting this designation isn’t easy as it is considered one of the hardest professions to get in. For this reason, it would be best to get some useful insights that can serve as a guide in your quest to become a CA. Read on to know the steps to attain your dream of pursuing a career in chartered accountancy.
1. Earn An Undergraduate Degree
All aspiring CAs must enroll in an undergraduate program first, and preferably have a degree in business, economics, finance, or accounting. Therefore, it would be best if you choose these majors when you’re heading to university.
However, other majors are also accepted and all you need to do is take additional classes and courses to sharpen your numeracy skills.
Aside from that, you’ll be expected to complete courses and classes on other business-related subjects such as:
· Financial Recordkeeping
· International Finance
· Personal and Business Tax
In addition, you must take communication courses and cross-cultural training to improve your communication and management skills. These are important since you’ll also be expected to create strong relationships with management teams and persons from varying cultures and backgrounds. During undergrad, make sure to maintain above-average grades as well to increase your chances of qualifying for an advanced degree in the future.
2. Find An Internship
After a few years of study, the next thing to do is to get real-life experience under the supervision of accredited accountants or CAs themselves. According to ‘Page Kirk‘, you can get this opportunity by working in major corporations, private accounting companies, or government departments. During your apprenticeship, you can build your network and learn the ins and outs of the profession which will be vital in your career later on as a CA.
You must also be open to work in various sectors and divisions. This is important as it helps you discover your preferred specialization and working environment, which can either be in the private or public sector.
3. Choose A Career Path
After acquiring a degree in finance or accountancy, the next step is to pick a specialty you want to practice in.Chartered Accountancy has a few specializations that you can go into, which includes:
· Chartered Certified Accountant
· Chartered Public And Finance Accountant
· Chartered Management Accountant
The availability of opportunities under these specialties usually differs depending on the organization’s size, training, and available position. And before you choose a specialization, ask yourself the following questions first:
· Whether you want to work in a non-profit or profit company.
· If you’re going to venture into private practice.
· The location or where you want to work.
Sometimes, you’ll only get a better idea of what to pursue after getting more training and experience in the field. So, don’t worry if you’re still unsure. You’ll eventually figure it out with time and experience.
4. Find A Job Within The Field
Once you’re done with your degree, go ahead and apply for an entry-level job that can give you firsthand experience in the accounting field. Ideally, it’s recommended you get at least three years of professional experience in an accredited employer. If your internship is open to absorb you after graduation, then that’s also a great opportunity to take.
The most common employer for aspiring CAs and companies registered with your region’s CA professional association includes:
· Stockbroking Firms
· Auditing Firms
· Public Limited Companies
· Patent Firms
· Finance Companies
· Private and Public Sector Banks
· Investment Houses
· Portfolio Management Companies
· Legal Firms
In any of these companies, the types of jobs you’ll qualify to undertake as a CA include:
· Tax Accountant
· Chief Financial Officer
· Accounts Clerk
· Business Service Accountant
· Financial Controller
· Cost Accountants
As you can see, you have a broad range of options to pick from, depending on your individual preference. And while undertaking professional training, you’ll be required to monitor your accomplishments and capabilities. Depending on the country you would like to practice in, you’ll be required to gain more experience before being certified as a CA.
5. Take And Pass Qualifying Exams
After practicing for a while, you’re now ready to proceed and take the exams. Therefore, you need to start reviewing for the exams as soon as you can. Fortunately, there are practice tests you can take online, but this also differs from one region to another. Therefore, take your time and go through those found in your locality and try them out.
But first, you must know the exact schedule and venue of the exam. Then, make sure you have enough time to review and prepare for it. The exam will be an extensive analysis of all that you’ve learned. Hence, you need to have a study plan and prepare months ahead of it to cover every topic possible. The format differs from one country to another, but the minimum passing score is usually 50%.
Once you become certified, the journey does not stop there. Most probably, you want to work or practice in a multinational firm where your credentials, experience, and qualifications are greatly needed and valued.
So, once you’re looking to finally practice as a CA, here are some tips to beat out any competition:
· Being self-motivated and constantly wishing to learn more about the fast-changing financial world is a plus.
· Be patient enough to cope with the pressures of work usually demanded from CAs.
· Have excellent awareness to understand the latest news in the global financial markets. Make sure to constantly keep up with finance news and stock market updates as well.
· Have superb oral communication skills that ensure you can converse with foreign peers, decision-makers, and stakeholders coherently.
Becoming a CA requires dedication and hard work. But for you to succeed and consequently enjoy the rewards and prestige in this field, you need to have a clear-cut plan to be able to follow and succeed every step of the way. Aspiring to be a CA would require more stringent academic and professional requirements, but it’s also a fulfilling career to pursue as it opens you to more opportunities on a global level.