The profession of CA (Chartered Accountant) is financially rewarding and challenging at the same time! In this article, you will be reading about Chartered Accountancy course details, eligibility criteria, further studies & courses, career prospects and job opportunities.
In India, CA education and training is managed by ICAI. ICAI stands for The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. It is the body responsible for maintaining the quality of CA course and education in India.
If one wants to attain the qualification of CA in India, he/she must complete the training and get himself/herself registered with the ICAI. Membership has to be renewed each year.
What are the functions of a CA, you may ask. Basically, as the term Chartered Accountant suggests, CAs deal with auditing, accounting and finance management. These are their primary tasks. However, depending upon specialization, they may venture into other areas too, like- Law, risk assessment, Investment banking etc.
Students who have passed 10+2 from any stream (Science/Commerce/Arts) are eligible to pursue CA course. Graduates or Post Graduates who have completed 3 or 4 years long Bachelor’s Degree program from a reputed institute are also eligible to pursue this course.
Commerce stream students will find CA course relatively comfortable to deal with. This is because of the fact that the course consists of subjects like Accounting and Finance, which are present in 11th and 12th commerce stream schooling.
Despite the above mentioned fact, students from any stream, after 10+2, may give this course a try! Same condition applies in case of graduates and postgraduates.
Wondering what CA course structure is like? Want to know check out the course duration? Let us check out the course details and you will get answers to all the questions mentioned above.
CA course details
CA course can be divided into three main levels. They are-
- CPT (Common Proficiency Test)
- IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course)
- CA Final Course
CPT is the entry level test. IPCC is the first stage of theoretical education and Final course is the final stage of theoretical education. Only on completing the above 3 stages, a candidate is said to have finished the course! There are no regular colleges (like in case of other professional courses) offering CA course. One must apply online, pay the fees and prepare like one is in ‘correspondence’ mode. Yes, one may take coaching and training provided by CA tutors. Duration to complete whole course depends on one’s aptitude. Generally, it could be wrapped up in 5 years.
Common Proficiency Test (CPT) which is designed in the pattern of entry level test for engineering, medical and other professional courses. It is a test of 4 hours duration comprising of two sessions of 2 hours each, with a break between two sessions. The test comprises of objective type questions only with negative marking for choosing wrong options. CPT syllabus include the following subjects-
- Fundamentals of Accounting
- Mercantile Laws
- General Economics
- Quantitative Aptitude
Note (CPT Exemption Rule): Students who are Graduates/ Post Graduates in Commerce having secured in aggregate a minimum of 55% of the total or its equivalent by studying any three papers of 100 marks each out of Accounting, Auditing, Mercantile Laws, Corporate Laws, Economics, Management (including Financial Management), Taxation (including Direct Tax Laws and Indirect Tax Laws), Costing, Business Administration or Management Accounting or other than those falling under Commerce stream having secured in aggregate a minimum of 60% of the total marks or its equivalent grade in the examination conducted by any recognized University (including Open University) and Candidates who have passed the Intermediate level examination conducted by The Institute of Cost Accountants of India or by The Institute of Company Secretaries of India are exempted from qualifying Common Proficiency Test (CPT). Such students can directly register to the Intermediate (IPCC) Course, which is the first stage of theoretical education.
This is the first stage of theoretical education in CA course. This level focuses on theoretical knowledge about accounting and related subjects. This theoretical course is followed by training session (articleship) and final course.
IPCC syllabus include-
- Business Laws, Ethics and Communication
- Cost Accounting and Financial Management
- Advanced Accounting
- Auditing and Assurance
- Information Technology and Strategic Management
Students who are pursuing the Final year Graduation Course can also register for the Intermediate (Integrated Professional Competence) Course on provisional basis and such students, registration would be regularised and they can commence articled training only on submission of satisfactory proof of having passed the Graduation examination with the specified percentage of marks within six months from the date of appearance in the final year graduation examination.
While going through IPCC, a candidate also has to complete 35 hours of orientation program and 100 hours of ITT (Information Technology Training). ITT consists of computer knowledge, MS Office programs, ICAI CA software, E Filing, Web Technology, Accounting package, project work etc.
After going through above mentioned stages and completing them, a candidate then has to join 3 years long practical training at an auditing firm or accountancy firm. This practical training is known as ‘articleship’. A candidate is entitled to a stipend while he/she is going through this training program. During practical training, a candidate also has to complete two courses on General Management and Communication Skills.
After qualifying both groups of IPCC and completing the training program, a candidate may join the CA final course.
3 Final course
The last leg of the Chartered Accountancy course is Final Course, designed to impart expert knowledge in financial reporting, auditing and professional ethics, taxation, corporate laws, system control, strategic finance and advanced management accountancy. Practical knowledge is given much importance in this stage.
- Financial Reporting
- Strategic Financial Management
- Advanced Auditing and Professional Ethics
- Corporate and Allied Laws
- Advanced Management Accounting
- Information Systems Control and Audit
- Direct Tax Laws
- Indirect Tax Laws
After qualifying the final examination, one may acquire membership of ICAI! One may use the prefix of CA with his/her name after acquiring membership!
Further studies and courses
After CA course, Chartered Accountants may pursue advanced courses and specialize in disciplines such as law, finance management, taxation etc. Some of the well known advanced courses available are-
- CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
- FRM (Financial Risk Manager)
- MBA (Finance)
- CFP (Certified Financial Planner)
- CS (Company Secretary) course
- CWA (Cost and Work Accountants)
- Actuarial Sciences
Career prospects and job opportunities
CAs have numerous job opportunities available in front of them. Government as well as private sector offers diverse job opportunities and profiles. Tax related matters, finance management and auditing are the main work formats that CAs get. It is like bread and butter for them. With experience and further education, they may venture into fields like Risk assessment and management, budgeting, financial planning etc.
Well known areas where CAs may find a job include-
- Banking and Insurance Sector (Government and Private)
- Income Tax Department
- Tax Advisory Firms
- Auditing Firms
- Stock Broking Firms
- Investment Banking Firms
- Asset Management Firms
- Law Firms (LL.B. Degree will be useful)
- Finance Companies
- CA Firms
- Corporate Houses (Planning and Budgeting team)
Most industries and companies, from manufacturing to services sector, have to deal with finance matters and tax matters. Qualified CAs are required by such companies to deal with tax matters in an efficient manner. Many companies even have dedicated CAs who take care of tax matters and auditing.
Besides working for a CA firm, one may also start one’s own practice. Before starting independent service, one must gain enough working experience by working for a firm. Some well known job profiles include-
- Auditor (statutory, internal, tax etc)
- Cost Accountant
- Tax specialist (Direct and Indirect taxes)
- Investment Banker
- Asset Manager
- Manager/Assistant Manager (Accounts, Finance, Credit etc)