CPA vs CS – Which Certification Should You Take?

If you are confused between what to choose CPA vs CS, here’s the remedy. Read the full article and decide for yourself which one suits you best. But before that there are few things which you should consider.

  • First of all, CPA and CS are completely different course and their approaches are also very different. So, if you get overwhelmed about which path to choose, think what makes you fly – quantitative skills or qualitative aptitude? If we put in better way it would what would like better Mathematics or English? It may sound silly but if you go for CPA, the main emphasis is on quantitative skills whereas CS emphasises on both soft and hard skills.
  • Choosing between CPA vs CS often depends on what career goals you have for yourself. If you don’t want what to choose, think about what you want to be after 20 years down the line. Yes you may have some vague idea. Write that down. Now try to match with the courses in hand. Which one do you think will help you get closer? CS or CPA? We know that it’s easier said than done. But take some time and reflect. If you think through and do research, you will find your way out.
  • Don’t decide the course on the basis of ease and fees. Choose because you feel the course will add more value to you. Talk to people who have already done both of them and then decide on your own.

It’s difficult to choose often. Thus, we have articulated all the details about CPA vs CS for your perusal. Have a close look. Look at each of the courses. And then choose the one which suits you best.

The flow of the article would be like this –

  1. CPA vs CS Infographics
  2. What is Certified Public Accountant (CPA)?
  3. What is Company Secretary (CS)?
  4. CPA vs CS – Key differences
  5. Why pursue CPA?
  6. Why pursue CS?

CPA vs CS Infographics

Reading time : 90 seconds

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

CPA vs CS infographics

What is Certified Public Accountant (CPA)?

  • If you complete CPA you would be able to earn an extra 15% as an accountant compared to non-CPAs. It’s a statistics given by AICPA. Let’s say you join a company without being a CPA. Now once you complete a year of service to the organization, you would get a hike of 15% in your salary. What if you get a hike before joining? Then do CPA.
  • CPA is a globally recognized course. Once you’re able to complete the course, you would be able to advise all domains of businesses and you would be treated as an authority in the field of accounting for public enterprises. Pursing CPA will help you craft customizable solutions for all sorts of business and organizations.
  • Only 20% of accountants join public enterprises. So, you can think that if you want to do CPA, your market is narrower than all other accountants. But the thing is all public enterprises prefer CPA over other accountants as CPA can understand public accounting much better than any other accounting professional.

For more details you can have a look at this- Nuts & Bolts of CPA Exam

What is Company Secretary (CS)?

  • CS is one of the toughest courses in India. If you want to know how tough it is, judge it on the basis of two things. First, to be able to pass CS, you need to clear 3 levels and 22 subjects. Second, the pass percentage last year was 3.61% meaning only 3 people out of 100 were capable to clear the exam. Having said that, if you’re ready to put your heart and soul into this course, you would be able to clear it. Just know that it’s not for faint-hearted.
  • As CS has become tougher, value of CS has also increased drastically. Unlike other courses, CS is designed in a way that has global relevance and once you complete CS you would be able to present your legal findings to the board members of reputed companies and on the basis of your findings they will make a decision. Think how your contribution will directly affect the future of companies.
  • Once you complete CS, you would become an expert corporate law, practice and drafting. And what’s most beneficial in doing CS course is the fact that CS curriculum will not only help student build quantitative skills, but also qualitative skills as well.

CPA vs CS – Key differences 

There are many differences between CPA and CS. Let’s have a glance at the key differences.

  • Exposure: If you’re considering between CPA and CS, of course CPA has more global exposure than CS. CS is a certification which is professional and equips you with both quantitative and qualitative skills, but CPA has more demand in the market as it’s more recognized in USA and other foreign countries whereas CS is more beneficial in Indian market.
  • Focus: The curriculum of CPA is much easier than CS. CS is much more comprehensive course than CPA. CPA is all about accounting for public enterprises whereas CS is all about company laws, drafting & presentation skills.
  • Fees: As CS is not as recognized as CPA in terms of global perspective, the fees of CS are much lesser than CPA. The fees for CS are US $500 whereas the fees for CPA are almost 6 times of CS, i.e. US $3000.
  • Pass percentage: As we have already mentioned that CS is much tougher than CPA in curriculum and in preparation, naturally the pass percentage of CS is much lesser than CPA. The pass percentage of CPA is one an average more than 44% whereas if you look at the pass percentage of CS last year, it’s significantly lesser – only 3.61%.
  • Toughness: What would be easier to study? A course which allows you to read just 4 subjects and give a mammoth exam of 14 hours or a course which makes you study 22 subjects in 3 levels and give separate exams for each subject? Anyone would know the answer. CPA has only four subjects whereas if we total the number of subjects in CS course, it is 22. If you want to pursue CS, think before you plunge in. You need to put in a lot of tenacity and hard work to get certified as CS.
  • Opportunities: If you complete CPA, you can get a job of accountant and you can also take charge of auditing and taxation. Whereas if you complete CS, your scope is much broader. You can work as legal expert, corporate planner, strategic manager, chief advisor to the board of directors and executive secretary to MD or CEO of any company.

Why pursue CPA?

  • Passing CPA is much easier than any other courses in finance domain. If you compare with other courses, you would see that the pass percentage of CPA is much higher.
  • Once you complete CPA, you would be an expert in public accounting, auditing and reporting. Thus you would be the most preferred accountant among all in public enterprises. It’s being said that only 20% of enterprises are public. By completing CPA your chances of getting placed in top notch public enterprises will be higher.
  • As you complete CPA, you will be able to charge fees for your accounting services. Very few global accounting courses allow you the facility to charge for your services.

Why pursue CS?

  • Once you complete your CS, you will be considered as an expert in company law, communication and business management. These are chief tools required to run a business.
  • As CS is a much tougher course, you will have less competition. It’s said that there’s no crowd along the extra mile. If you have passed CS that means you’re a top notch student.
  • Once you complete your CS, you will be able to directly advice board of directors and you will act as a secretary to MD or CEO of companies. From this you can understand the market value you will have and the responsibilities you need to carry through.


This is a comprehensive article on CPA vs CS. After going through the whole thing, now you may have some idea what to pick and what to let go of. But if you ask for advice, there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. If you want to make your mark as an accountant, choose CPA or if you want to make your presence count and would like to advice board of directors of the company, then go for CS. Before choosing think through and give yourself enough time. Talk to people who have already crossed the path and ask for advice. But finally, make sure whatever you do should be product of your own conclusions.

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