Chartered accountants in Ontario, Canada have to go through the same rigorous coursework as their American counterparts. They are actually now given the Certified Public Accounting designation by default as well. Out of accountants worldwide they formed a professional organization before anyone else. Chartered accountants must hold expertise in areas of business auditing and assurance, business concepts, accounting regulation, and financial accounting. They must subsequently pass 4 rigorous examinations in each of these areas as well. In the United States to even sit for the Certified Public Accounting Designation you must hold at least one hundred twenty credit hours of course work to include 24 hours of upper level accounting. Almost every state in the union requires 150 hours inclusive of 36 hours of upper level accounting and certain business prerequisites to be officially certified as a public accountant. All provinces in Canada have instituted comparable requirements.
The CPA and Chartered Accountant examinations are probably one of the hardest examinations there is. Many professionals that are both attorneys and chartered accountants claim that the chartered accountant examination was much harder than the bar exam. The reason for this is because the CPA exam is testing your memorization of laws and procedures, while the chartered accountancy examination tests you on laws and procedures, but also teaches you on mathematical concepts, rules, and the magnitude of the material far exceeds what is required on the bar exam. This is why the chartered accountancy examination has some of the lowest percentage passing rates out of every standard exam given in both Canada and the United States. Most Universities in both the United States and Canada have very strict standards for even being accepted to an undergraduate or graduate accounting program and the coursework is very difficult as well. Financial Accounting concepts is usually the weed out course in both countries and many students end up changing their major after suffering through this course. Those that make it through this course and its counterpart Managerial Accounting sometimes face trouble in cost accounting and intermediate accounting 1 and 2. If a student makes it through those courses then they are destined to do well in an accounting career. However, some schools have a more lenient curriculum than others and thus the students suffer when chartered accountancy exam time rolls around. The exam was once given on two separate days for a cumulative total of 14 hours many years ago. However, now prospective chartered accountants are now given the option of taking the audit, business concepts, accounting regulation, and financial accounting sections in separate sittings. The exams must all be passed within an eighteen month rolling window.
Some of the careers chartered accountants are offered range from internal audit, external audit, international tax, IRS regulators, private corporate accountants etc. Many young students are attracted to external audit positions at many of the Big 4 firms. The Big 4 firms are the firms with the 4 largest gross revenues in the world and they are Ernst Young, PricewaterHouse Cooper, KPMG, and Deloitte. Getting into one of these firms and subsequently working there for 2 years and leaving on good terms or staying is the equivalent of having an Ivy League school on your resume. Finishing an audit associate program successfully will lead the way to senior associate positions and onward. The progression within in chartered accountancy beyond the senior associate level is the manager, senior manager, director, senior director, and then partner. Employees that don’t choose to go that route end up going to the private sector in which they are rewarded with handsome salaries ranging from one hundred thousand dollars and onward. Some of the standard positions within private industry range from compliance to international tax, internal audit, controllers, and CFO’s. These are all very lucrative positions that could put chartered accountants in positions in which they are very well of. Other chartered accountants choose to run for public office in which they are the treasure of comptroller for a particular city or town. These kinds of positions can be quite promising to one’s career as well. Overall chartered accountancy is a very respectable line of work, but only those that have the mental capacity to absorb such concepts as well as those that have the drive and work ethic should consider such a career. It is recommended that students interested in such a career should contact the academic advisor at their current university to learn more about chartered accountancy. It would also be in the student’s best interest to work with the school’s career services department to learn about particular jobs in the field and firms that are hiring over the next few years in the area. Before the student graduates it is ideal for he or she to obtain an internship. This immensely increases the probability of full time employment in accounting.