Accounting is a satisfying career in which you apply accounting skills and business analysis to varying fields of work.
Accounting hopefuls who want to become a Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified General Accountant (CGA) should read this brief overview to get an idea of what you’ll have to accomplish in order to earn one of these designations.
In Ontario (the requirements are different in every province, so contact your province’s institute for specifics), you must complete a four-year, 120 credit-hour university degree that is either in an Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO)-accredited program or covers 17 specific courses known as the “51 credit-hour requirement.” You can take the appropriate courses through a university. For more information on the educational requirements, click here.
Your next step is to work for three years in a CA training office, during which time you are paid for your work, gain experience and expand your network.
In Ontario, as soon as you have started working, you are eligible to take the first CA exam, which is a four-hour, multiple-choice Core-Knowledge Exam (CKE). Once you pass the CKE, you enrol in the Institute’s School of Accountancy, which is a three-week, full-time self-study beginning in June in preparation for the final examination, the Uniform Evaluation (UFE).
Once you’ve completed the three years of work and passed the UFE, you are recognized as a CA.
Note: In the spring of 2010, the ICAO announced the “Exemption from Employment Requirement.” This temporary measure, put in place due to the economy, allows students who have completed their degree and ICAO-educational requirements to begin writing their professional exams without first being employed with a CA Training office. Click here for more information on the exemption.
Three years, but a little more if have to take the additional courses.
Yes, it is mandatory that you work while obtaining your CA. However, please refer to the note above regarding the current temporary employment exemption.
CAs work in every aspect, from major financial institutions to government offices to banks. Recognized internationally, the CA designation denotes financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight and leadership. CAs know the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the organizations they work for and they also keep the bigger picture in mind.
Ontario CAs contribute greatly to international and domestic investor confidence in the soundness of the Ontario and Canadian economies. Only 37% of CAs work in public practice (i.e., accounting firms). The majority of CAs (45%) work in many areas of industry (such as financial institutions, telecommunications, entertainment, not-for-profits and consumer products) while the remaining 18% of CAs work in areas such as government and education.
After completing your university or applied degree (in any subject, not necessarily accounting), send your transcript to the CMA office and they will evaluate whether you’ve covered the 16 required topics. You may study the appropriate courses in university or, if you qualify, complete a seven-month Accelerated Program offered in-class or online by the CMA in your province. Find the CMA in your province through CMA Canada.
With the 16 required topics completed, you register to write the Entrance Examination (preparation program offered) that you must pass in order to enter the two-year Strategic Leadership Program (SLP). The test remains the same across the country.
The SLP program is a two-year, part-time study completed through interactive in-class sessions on weekends. After the first year, you must pass the Case Exam. The first year is more individual work, while the second year is mainly group work. At the end of the second year, you and your group present a report to a mock board of CMAs. When you pass, you earn your CMA.
During the SLP, you must complete 24 months of work experience in management accounting to fulfill the Practical Experience requirement.
Without the Accelerated Program, it should take a little more than two years. With the accelerated program, almost three years.
Yes, you must complete 24 months of work experience in management accounting to fulfil the Practical Experience requirement of the CMA program.
CMAs combine their accounting skills with a management position, often acquiring leadership and decision-making roles within a company. CMAs are present across a wide variety of companies, whether they work in accounting, management, finance or other as a department manager, financial analyst, president of the company, or other.
The CGA designation has the broadest wings of the three, as it does not require a specific bachelor degree.
After applying to and being accepted by the CGA office in your area, you then take courses online. CGA Canada offers Professional Applications and Competence Evaluations (PACE) and the prerequisite courses you must take as part of the qualification program that, upon completing—along with two final courses and exams (PA1 and PA2)—results in your CGA designation.
Students must also complete 36 months of full-time work experience (and 24 of those months at a senior level).
The courses, combined with the work experience, take at least three years, maybe a little more.
The courses are taken while employed.
CGAs receive ample training in financial management and business analysis. They move on to fill a variety of positions in business, finance and accounting, including business analyst or controller.