ACCA vs CPA – Which One’s Right For You?

ACCA vs CPA –  Which One’s Right For You? Conversations at the coffee table during my time was all about what did you want to become and perhaps the answer would have stopped at, a journalist, a teacher, a doctor or a chartered accountant. Period! The end of the conversation. And today if you tell someone that you are aiming to become a chartered accountant you will be barraged with a host of questions such as which course are you planning to do further, ACCA certification vs CPA exam? Will you be aiming to do both in the future? If you are confused about your plans just take a deep breath and read ahead…

In this article, we will discuss about the following –

  1. ACCA vs CPA Infographics
  2. What is Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)?
  3. What is Certified Public Accountant (CPA)?
  4. Exam Requirements of ACCA vs CPA
  5. Why pursue ACCA?
  6. Why pursue CPA?

ACCA vs CPA Infographics

Reading time : 90 seconds

Lets understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this ACCA vs CPA Infographics.

ACCA vs CPA infographics

What is ACCA?

The ACCA or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants is a body that recognizes the qualification of a CA. ACCA is a global body based in Glasgow UK which works in the interest of the public to ensure that the chartered accountants work according to the principles based and ensures that the regulations set are properly followed. The ACCA offers the certification in chartered accountancy and the exam known as ACCA is most recognized in the commonwealth countries.

What is CPA?

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) holds the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam which is recognized across the globe for its competence. The AICPA is the largest accounting body in the world and anyone who wishes to work in the US or has to work with US based clients requires taking the examination hold by the AICPA. 55 states in the US have been granted the license to conduct the CPA certified exams. Each state has its own licensing requirements and pattern of exam as none of them is controlled by any centralized body.


Exam Requirements of ACCA vs CPA




You need to be a high school pass out to appear for the examination. In case of a higher degree you can request yourself to be exempted from papers you have already studied for at the fundamental level. Education which is equivalent up to five years is required to be eligible for this examination. The criteria set for the candidate requires a 4 year bachelor’s degree and preferably a master’s degree which should amount to 120 to 150 hours of credit in the business education domain.
The ACCA provides study material in the form of guide books and sample papers for the students to follow. The organization is involved in the preparing process and provides a list of ACCA approved Learning Partners to ensure you come out with flying colours in the exam. The CPA does not provide a set syllabus to be followed by the candidate.  There are no books or set program for a student to follow. He needs to completely rely on commercial review courses to guide him to crack the exam.
You need to give 14 papers which are divided in the following format. 9 papers of the Fundamental Level and 5 papers of the Professional Level.  The question papers are divided into three patterns of questions, objective type, longer type and case studies. The exam is divided into 4parts Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR), Audit & Attestation (AUD), Regulation (REG) and Business Environment & Concepts (BEC). Multiple choice questions are asked in the exam with task based stimulation to check a candidate’s common sense and IQ. Furthermore written communication is given importance in the exam papers.

Why Pursue ACCA?

ACCA certificate holders are recognized all around the world unlike the CPA which is US specific in terms of practice. ACCA exams can be attempted twice in a year with 400+ locations to choose from around the world making it easy for a candidate to give the exam from a nearby location. An ACCA holder is not required to be practically trained under experience accountants and is ready to start his career after the completion of his course. Thus he does not lose out time on internships and jumps the practical grinding from the very beginning.

ACCA registration is a much simpler process than CPA and is more cost effective. ACCA prepares you for both financial and management roles, making it easier for you to choose careers in different sectors and industries. ACCA’s qualification is recognized by employers and students who have passed out ACCA are known for their quality and excellence, making it easy for employers to rely on their ability and knowledge while hiring them.

Why Pursue CPA?

The AICPA is a prestigious body and an exam conducted by it is looked upon with high regards since it is arguably the highest qualification a CA could achieve. The candidates have to meet specific criteria to be eligible for the exam and that ensures that the quality of the professionals is maintained. The CPA qualification holder enjoys the advantage of getting employment in public accounting department in American MNCs as well as the license to practice in the US.

There are certain jobs which the industry restricts for a CPA qualified professional such as launching a CPA firm or signing an audit report of a company, thus making it a valued professional degree for a CA. A CPA certificate holder is required to undergo practical training for a year or two under a licensed CPA and this ensures that the candidate has enough practice and creates a great no of contacts in this field before he is on his own in this industry.

Here you can also view other similar comparison articles;


To decide which course to crack, I believe it depends on your choice of career roles and in which country you decide to work. As far as my job is concerned I have told you the two options that exists A and B. Now which one to go for…I wish you all the luck!


  1. By Moefai on

    Firstly, in my opinion both the bodies are respectable in the field and hold a high prestige.

    I have Both the qualifications and am a member of one of the two and I personally do not agree to this comparison at all as it gives a wrong impression and compares it based on information that adds little value to a person making a career choice.

    In terms of difficulty For example ACCA’s Professional level exams have not been mentioned at all. Let me tell you these exams are not easy and certainly not easier than the CPA exams.

    When it comes to the topic coverage, ACCA provides expert knowledge in more areas than the CPA qualification does i.e. Advanced Financial Management (P4) or Advanced Management Accounting (p5) along with Ethic, Financial Reporting, Business Analysis, Taxation, and Auditing.

    Secondly, I would also recommend ACCA because of the greater number of affiliations and mutual agreements with other bodies around the world (i.e. CPA Australia, ICAEW, and CPA Canada etc) and not to forget partnerships with some good Universities that help you gain an additional bachelors and a masters degree along the way.

    In the end it all boils down to The question of where do you want to work? for example CPA Financial reporting (FASB) and Taxation (USA) will be of little use if you want to work outside the USA (i.e Middle east)
    This is because the CPA qualification is based on FASB and local rules within the USA, where as ACCA is more of an international qualification based on IASB & IFRSs which caters a wide range of countries.


    • By Dheeraj Vaidya on

      Thanks Moefae for your valuable inputs. I am sure the audience here will appreciate the same.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top ▴