Academic Qualification

Academic Qualification for career in accounting

In this article, we’ll discuss the academic qualification to pursue a career in accounting. Since the profession is regulated in each country, most of the accountants ultimately apply for certification. We’ll also discuss the requirements of the most popular certifications.

If you’re highly interested in pursuing a career in accounting, the best way is to equip yourself with the right courses from your high school.

It’s highly recommended to take math and accounting courses in high school. In addition to this, familiarity with computer applications would be an added advantage. Other courses such as communications and business would be helpful to better prepare you for the accounting career.

Planning to gain experience from all over the world in this field? Learn foreign languages; Planning to work in Middle-east? Learn Arabic. China? Learn Mandarin/Cantonese. India? Learn Hindi.


Post-secondary education can be obtained from below:

  • Universities

Bachelor degree with a concentration in Accounting, business, economics or finance

Master degree with a concentration in Accounting, business, economics or finance


  • Institutes and Colleges

Diploma and certificates in Accounting


The most common way to get certifications from CA, CPA, or ACCA members is to finish the academic qualification (Post-secondary education) and apply for certification. This varies according to national and regional jurisdictions.

Let’s see how it varies among most popular designations:

Canada (Chartered Professional Accountant – CPA)


1.Academic Pre-requisites

To qualify for direct admission to the CPA PEP, you must:

  • complete an undergraduate degree such as a B.Com with an accounting major
  • complete the prerequisite learning defined in The CPA Competency Map
  • meet the standards for achievement established by the CPA profession
  • complete at least 120 credit hours or the equivalent of education

If you’re not from an accounting background, you’ve to complete “CPA Preparatory Courses” where you’ll learn Financial Reporting, Corporate Finance, Audit & Assurance, Taxation, and Performance Management offered by CPA Canada.


2. CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP)

This is a graduate-level program for CPA Candidates which consists of

  • Two Core levels &
    • C1 (Financial Accounting and Reporting)
    • C2 (Management Accounting, Planning, and Control)


  • Electives (Choose any two from)
    • E1 (Performance Management)
    • E2 (Finance)
    • E3 (Assurance)
    • E4 (Taxation)


  • Capstone
    • Capstone Integrative Module (Team Management, Communication, Leadership)
    • Capstone Examination Preparation Module (Prepare candidate for entry into profession)


3. The Common Final Examination (CFE)

  • participate in a three-day examination
  • demonstrate the depth and breadth of your abilities according to the CPA Competency Map
  • draw on learning from your Capstone 1 case to complete the examination


4. 30 Month of Qualifying Practical Experience


United States (Certified Public Accountant – CPA)

AICPA has laid out 3E for full membership to CPA. The 3E’s are:

E – Education

E – Uniform CPA Examination &

E – Experience


1. Academic Education

  • Requirements vary according to state/jurisdiction
  • Require 150 semester hours – Can be obtained through undergraduate degree plus some courses at the graduate level, 4-year University, or even a community college.

2. Uniform CPA Examination

  • CBE – Computer Based Exam
  • 4 courses –
    • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
    • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
    • Regulation (REG)
  • Passing score – 75 on 0-99 Scale

3. Experience

  • Varies as per state – Typically 1-2 years of accounting experience under the guidance of a CPA
  • Additional requirements vary by education, employer, or type of work
  • Some state even require to have Ethics exams


United Kingdom (CA, ACCA)

ICAEW – Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales

There are two routes to become CA from ICAEW through academic qualification

1.Undergraduate – Bachelor Degree

    • Not necessary to have accounting, finance, or business background
    • 3-5 years to complete
    • Four Elements:
        • 450 days of work experience with an authorized employer
        • Completion of 15 Examination Modules
        • Recorded development of professional skills
        • Demonstrated professionalism and integrity


2. Graduate – Master Degree

    • Timeline is 1-3 years to complete
    • There is an exemption for the course you take at the graduate level for the examination modules, besides that you’ve to complete all of the four elements mentioned above.


ACCA – Association of Chartered Certified Accountants


1.Academic Qualification

With the academic qualification, ACCA provides an exemption for its applied knowledge and applied skills examination based on the courses you opted for an undergraduate degree.


2. ACCA Final Examination

With exemptions of Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills, you’re required to clear Strategic Professional Examination

This is divided into two categories

  • Essential
    • Strategic Business Leader
    • Strategic Business Reporting


  • Optional (choose any two from four)
    • Advanced Financial Management
    • Advanced Performance Management
    • Advanced Taxation
    • Advanced Audit and Assurance


3. ACCA Work Experience

Three years of relevant work experience


4. ACCA Ethics and Professional Module

Completion of interactive case-based Ethics and professional module




Certified Practising Accountant – CPA

1. Australian Bachelor degree level

2. Experience

  • Relevant Experience of 36 months to develop skills in Technical, Personal Effectiveness, Business, Leadership

3. Examination of :

    • Compulsory subjects
      • Ethics and Governance
      • Financial Reporting
      • Strategic Management Accounting
      • Global Strategy and Leadership
    • Electives (any two from four)
      • Advanced Taxation
      • Advanced Audit and Assurance
      • Financial Risk Management
      • Contemporary Business Issues

Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand – CA ANZ

1. Academic Qualification

  • Accredited CA ANZ degree
  • Not Accredited by CA ANZ has to be equivalent to at least AU or NZ bachelor degree with coverage of required competency areas

2. Examination

  • Taxation
  • Audit and Assurance
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Management Accounting and applied finance
  • Capstone – Integrating technical skills and ethics

3. Experience

Mentored Practical Experience of 3 years


Please note there are other pathways to obtain the membership of the above-mentioned certifications which are subject to discussion in other articles.

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