“A CPA designation is your passport to work in any industry anywhere in the world,” says Jane Lalonde.
It’s a strong endorsement – from a credible expert.
Jane is a member of the Student Recruitment team at CPA Ontario who speaks to students about the role the CPA designation can play in enabling their career success.
“The CPA designation provides choices and options for those wanting to pursue a career in accounting and better their skills,” she says.
“If you want to bring you career to the next level and become an integral part of your workplace, you need a CPA designation to get you there.”
Jane has some valuable insight to offer if you’re interested in learning more about the CPA.
Why the CPA designation?
“Accounting touches all areas of business, which is why it is such a viable and desirable career path,” explains Jane.
If you want to make the most of the versatility offered by a career in accounting, the CPA designation process is a compelling route to explore – offering a recognized credential that affirms your key skills.
“The CPA assures employers that you are a qualified candidate who is capable of tackling any challenge and delivering sustainable solutions.”
Campus Recruitment Officer, CPA Ontario
“The CPA provides you with the opportunity to enhance your analytical skills while also working on those important soft skills such as communication and teamwork,” says Jane. “You’ll get the competitive edge to become a strong business leader.”
Those soft skills play a key part in enabling CPAs to find diverse work opportunities around the globe.
“There are many transferrable skills that you can gain by taking the CPA program beyond the numbers, meaning your career options are endless,” explains Jane, adding that CPAs are in demand and can be found at different levels in many fields.
“As a CPA, you’ll have your pick of job opportunities in prestigious organizations in any sector.”
How do I get there?
The process to earn your CPA designation ensures a candidate is equipped for professional success.To be eligible, candidates must complete:
- a three- or four-year degree
- the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) and accompanying “Common Final Examination”
- 30 months of practical work experience
“CPA PEP is a graduate-level program comprised of a series of core, elective and capstone modules,” says Jane, adding that CPA Ontario offers support to help candidates complete the necessary prerequisites for the program through the CPA Pre-Requisite Education Program (CPA PREP).
It’s a multi-faceted set of requirements – a driving force behind the established reputation of the CPA designation.
“CPAs are Canada’s business leaders, who help to make important financial, strategic and leadership decisions,” explains Jane.
“Our program equips you with everything you’ll need to be successful in the workplace, including teamwork and analytical skills.”
Get the facts:
According to Jane, the most common misconception about the CPA designation is that you have to work in an accounting firm to complete your work experience requirement.
“In fact, 79 per cent of Canadian CPAs work outside of Public Practice,” she says.
There are two kinds of work experience that can contribute to your designation:
Pre-Approved Programs: an employer who has worked directly with the profession to gain approval for specific roles/ areas in which to train a student and
Experience Verification: a student works directly with the profession to have their experience verified by submitting a detailed report of the competencies gained.
“Both options are evaluated using the same standards set by CPA Ontario and require you to have a mentor,” says Jane.
Is the CPA designation right for me?
If you’re assessing your skill set to earn your CPA designation, Jane recommends looking at your soft skills.
“Being able to communicate well, work with other people and take initiative are all aspects that are needed to be a successful candidate,” she says.
Time management skills are a big factor as well.
“Be ready for a challenge. The biggest challenge for completing the CPA is learning how to prioritize your time between work, study and your home life,” Jane says.
“Finding that balance means you need to be a high-performer at work, study sufficiently to proceed through the CPA Certification Program and ensure you make time for yourself and your health.”
How can I learn more?
There are some great upcoming opportunities to explore the CPA designation.
Jane recommends attending an information session to ask questions and learn in person.
“Visit our goCPAontario.ca website to sign up for a session,” she says. “Current students should stay tuned, as many campus information sessions will be planned in the fall.”
There’s also a unique opportunity to get some feedback on the designation process.
“If you’re unsure of what your unique pathway is to gain the CPA designation, submit an unofficial copy of your transcripts to firstname.lastname@example.org,” says Jane.
Your transcript will be assessed to ensure that you’re on the right track to the designation, regardless of where you are in your career or what year of study you’re in, she explains.
“This is a great first step to get connected with CPA Ontario and start planning for your designation.”
Altogether, it’s compelling insight into a program that has a lot to offer you as you explore your career options.
“The job market is competitive and organizations have an increased demand for people with a professional designation,” explains Jane. “The CPA assures employers that you are a qualified candidate who is capable of tackling any challenge and delivering sustainable solutions.”
“What you do with your designation is up to you but the CPA designation is a starting point to get you there.”