Financial Accounting continues to remain one of the most important fields in the financial industry and there is an ever-growing demand for competent professionals in global financial institutions. To gain accreditation in accounting, it would be advisable for professionals to choose a certification program that fits in with their individual preferences, educational qualifications and work experience among other things. In the course of this article, we would be discussing ACA and CPA as two of the leading certifications in accounting which have made some quality contributions to the accounting industry by validating the professional capabilities of competent individuals in this field.
The article will give you information on the following;
- ACA vs CPA Infographics
- What is ACA?
- What is CPA?
- ACA vs CPA Exam Requirements
- Why pursue ACA?
- Why pursue CPA?
ACA vs CPA Infographics
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Let’s understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this ACA vs CPA Infographics.
ACA VS CPA Summary
|Certification Organized By||ACA is organized by ICAEW, UK-based accounting body with international recognition in the field of developing professional expertise and promoting globally accepted professional and ethical standards for finance and accounting careers.||CPA is organized by AICPA, US-based accounting body dedicated to promote international standards in accounting and equip professionals with a high level of expertise in accounting, auditing and tax management.|
|Number of Levels||ACA: There are 3 levels of exams in ACA including Certificate, Professional and Advanced |
Certificate Level has 6 papers which cover accounting and business fundamentals.
Professional Level has 6 papers which focus on application of knowledge and skills in real-world situations.
Advanced Level has 3 papers dealing with more complex issues, developing on the professional modules. Its an open book examination with a case study to test the skills and ability of participants.
|CPA: It is a single-level certification which consists of 4 papers divided into multiple choice question-based format and subjective-type format.|
|Mode/duration of examination||ACA: At Certificate Level, exams are 1.5 hours long, at Professional Level, 2.5 hours and at Advanced Level,3.5 hours.||ACA: At Certificate Level, exams are 1.5 hours long, at Professional Level, 2.5 hours and at Advanced Level,3.5 hours.|
|Exam Window||ACA: Exams are conducted in 9 January, 27 March, 3 July and 25 September for Professional Level 8 May and 28 August for Advanced Level every year.||CPA: There are 4 exam windows available to the candidates to allow for greater flexibility in taking exams. Candidates can sit for the exams in JAN - MARCH 10, APR - JUNE 10, JULY - SEPT 10 or OCT - DEC 10 window in keeping with their convenience.|
•Accounting (40 questions)
•Assurance (50 questions)
•Business and finance (50 questions)
•Law (50 questions)
•Management information (40 questions)
•Principles of taxation (50 questions)
•Business planning: taxation
•Audit and assurance
•Financial accounting and reporting
•Strategic business management
Audit and Attestation:
•Engagement Acceptance and Planning
•Entity and Internal Control
•Procedures and evidence
•Accounting and Review Services
Financial Accounting and Reporting:
•Accounts and Disclosures
•Ethical and Legal Responsibilities
•Federal Tax Process
•Gain and Loss taxation
•Taxation of entities
Business Environment and Concepts:
|Pass percentage||Business Strategy at 90.3%, with Financial Accounting and Reporting at 87.4%||CPA: Cumulative Passing rates for 1st and 2nd quarter of 2016:
Audit and Attestation: 46.98%
Financial Accounting and Reporting: 44.20%
Business Environment and Concepts: 55.91%
|Fees||ACA: £500||CPA: Total exam fee is around $3000|
|Job opportunities/job titles||This credential prepares professionals for accounting and auditing career roles requiring advanced technical skills, which opens up a number of new work opportunities in different parts of the world. Finance professionals with the kind of technical knowledge, skills and work experience, which form an integral part of this qualification, could easily become associated with some of the biggest industry names.|
Some of the relevant job roles include:
|Professionals can acquire advanced knowledge and skills in accounting, auditing and financial analysis which are essential to fulfill the requirements for some of the highest roles in this field. CPAs can explore work opportunities in International Accounting, Internal & External Auditing, Forensic Accounting, Assurance Services and several other highly specialized areas. Expert knowledge of US GAAP and IFRS standards makes it possible to work almost anywhere in the world.
Some of the relevant job roles include:
What is ACA?
Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) qualification is offered by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), a globally recognized UK-based accounting body engaged in promoting and professionally developing more than 144,000 accountants worldwide. This credential is aimed at helping individuals acquire advanced professional competencies in accounting, finance, and business. Earning this credential requires completing 3 years of technical work experience which makes it one of the most rigorous qualifications in finance and accounting. ACA also introduces professionals to accepted professional and ethical standards for accounting professionals in the global arena.
What is CPA?
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), a premier accounting body engaged in the promotion of globally accepted accounting standards and development of professionals for the global accounting industry. CPA is considered nothing less than the black belt in accounting, preparing professionals to work in accordance with US GAAP and IFRS standards. As IFRS continues to emerge as the new global standard for financial reporting, this credential continues to gain greater relevance. With CPA, professionals can promote themselves as experts in accounting, auditing, and taxation-related work.
ACA vs CPA Exam Requirements
Candidates can opt for ACA right after leaving school if they have earned two A2 levels and have passed 3 GCSEs or their international equivalents. Graduates with good grades can also be considered by authorized training employers and a minimum UCAS tariff score of 280 or above, including AS and A2 levels. International equivalents of these qualifications and scores might also be acceptable or one might have to look for eligibility as defined for a specific country or region. Candidates also require at least 450 days of relevant work experience which can take upto 3-5 years to complete.
Candidates who have completed a 4-year bachelor’s degree with at least 120 semester hours are eligible for CPA. This usually includes 24 to 30 semester hours in accounting which might be completed in a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree in some cases. They are also required to have at least 1-2 years of work experience with CPA.
Why Pursue ACA?
ACA qualification offers advanced technical knowledge in accounting and finance, helping professionals take their career graph ahead and explore novel work opportunities in the global arena. There is a lot of post-qualification support as well, which works to the advantage of participants. The average salary of ACA qualified professionals is among the most competitive in the financial industry, primarily due to the kind of demand for technical accounting and finance skills developed as part of the ACA qualification.
Why Pursue CPA?
CPA designation can be helpful in developing a career in accounting, auditing, tax or management consulting among other areas. The CPA license is widely recognized as a standard of a high level of professionalism and expertise in quantitative finance. One can work as an independent auditor after completing CPA and most of the advanced roles in accounting have CPA as a pre-requisite. They can work with some of the largest firms and are particularly well-suited for public accounting roles.
Other comparisons you may like
It would be important to understand that both of these credentials focus on accounting and auditing-related skills, however, there are more subtle differences that set them apart. Where CPA introduces professionals to US GAAP and IFRS as two of the most important reporting standards globally, ACA helps professionals acquire advanced technical accounting skills. Another major difference is that ACA is more focused on the practical application of concepts and requires a good deal of work experience, whereas CPA is more focused on advanced concepts including such areas as strategic planning and operations management to build a deeper contextual understanding of accounting.