Updated on May 15, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Difference Between CPA and CA

CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant and these exams are conducted by American Institute of Certified Public Accountant (AICPA) and this course takes a minimum of 7 months and a maximum of 1 year to complete whereas CA stands for Chartered Accountant and these exams are conducted by Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and this course takes an average of 4 to 5 years to complete.

Which is better? Which designation will help my career? When deciding your choice of profession in accountancy, you may be in a dilemma to choose between CPA or CA.

The key question that arises is whether the CPA benefits my career path or CA. There is no clear winner because both qualifications will help to grow your technical skills, accountancy skills, and business management skills. Also, CPA and CA holders tend to be equally spread across commercial and public accounting – so each qualification provides maximum flexibility to work across the industry.

Please note we are only comparing CPA membership of AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) and CA membership of ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). 

I understand that the choice between CPA and CA is a big career decision, and hence, to help you make an informed decision, I prepared an infographic that will give you a clear picture of differentiation.


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CPA vs CA Infographics

CPA vs CA Infographics

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Eligibility Criteria

#1 – CPA

  • If you wish to appear for Certified Public Accountant Examination, you need to clear Bachelors in Commerce (B.Com) with a first-class or you need to have a Bachelor’s in Commerce and also a Post-Graduation Degree.
  • And if you have Indian CA’s designation with B.Com, then also you can appear for CPA examinations. Also, check out Careers after B.Com.

#2 – CA

  • If you want to appear for Indian CA Examination, you need to appear for Common Proficiency Test (CPT) after appearing in the Senior Secondary Examination (recognized by the Central Government of India).
  • CPT Examination is held in June & December every year, so the first step you need to do is you need to register for Common Proficiency Test 60 days prior to the test i.e. on or before 1st April & 1st October.

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Examination Syllabus

Exam I: Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR CPA Exam)
Duration: 4 hours Question Pattern: 3 multiple-choice tests (60% weightage) & 7 short task-based simulations (40% Weightage)
  • Level I: Common Proficiency Test (CPT)
  • Duration: Session 1 & 2 (each session 2 hours)Session 1: Fundamentals of Accounting (60 marks), Mercantile Laws (40 marks)Session 2: General Economics (50 marks), Quantitative Aptitude (50 marks)
  • Question Pattern: Objective Type Test for each correct answer 1 mark,
and for the wrong answer,
  • negative 0.25
Exam II: Auditing & Attestation (AUD CPA Exam
Duration: 4 hours Question Pattern: 3 multiple choice testlets (60% weightage) & 7 short task-based simulations (40% Weightage)
  • Level II: Integrated Professional Competence Course
  • Duration: 7 Papers arranged into Two groups (Each Paper of 3 hours)Group I: Advanced Accounting, Law, Ethics & Communication, Cost Accounting, and Financial Management, Taxation

Group II: Advanced Accounting, Auditing & Assurance, Information Technology & Strategic Management. Question Pattern: Theory & Practical Based
Exam III: Regulation (REG CPA Exam)
Duration: 4 hours Question Pattern: 3 multiple choice testlets (60% weightage) & 7 short task-based simulations (40% Weightage)
  • Level III: CA Final
  • Duration: 8 Papers arranged into Two groups (Each Paper of 3 hours)Group I: Financial Reporting, Strategic Financial Management, Advanced Auditing & Professional Ethics, Corporate & Allied Laws.Group II: Advanced Management Accounting, Information Systems Control & Audit, Direct Tax Laws, Indirect Tax Laws.
  • Question Pattern: Theory & Practical Based
  • Exam IV: Business Environment & Concepts (BEC CPA Exam)
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Question Pattern: 3 multiple choice testlets (85% weightage) & 3 written simulations (15% weightage).

Career Opportunities

  • CPA: CPA designation will open a door of wide varied options. After getting your CPA certification, you can work under various accounting fields such as International Accounting, Internal & External Auditing, Consulting Services, Forensic Accounting, Assurance services, Taxation & Financial Planning, etc. With its global recognition, you will find the best place to work anywhere in many countries. See the list of Top Accounting firms
  • CA: Similarly, CA Designation will also provide you with many options in the specialized areas of Accounting, such as Auditing, Taxation, Corporate Finance, and Corporate Law. After getting your CA Certification, you can either work in the existing top firms of Accountancy or you can start your own independent professional practice.

CPA vs CA – Salary Comparison

  • CPA: The average salary earned by CPA Professionals (in India) is found to be INR 7,68,552 per year.  Most people move on to other jobs if they have more than 10 years of experience in this field.
  • CA: A Chartered Accountant (in India) earns a salary of INR 6,08,976 per year on average. Skills that are associated with high pay for this job are Evaluation and Management Auditing, Budget Management, Financial Analysis, Strategic Accounts, and Financial Advisor. People in this job generally don’t have more than 10 years’ experience. Experience strongly influences income for this job.


Both designations have their own pros and cons, it is not an easy task to opt between CPA & CA as both have a successful career. If you are interested in working abroad or in a multinational company, then you should opt for a CPA. Alternatively, if you want to start your own audit practice in India, opt for CA. Additionally, the CA exam is less costly as compared to the CPA examination.

So which one are you taking?

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to CPA vs CA. Guide to CPA vs CA. We discuss the difference between CPA and CA, eligibility criteria, exam syllabus, career opportunities, salary, etc. You may also have a look at the following articles: –

Reader Interactions


  1. Raj says

    Sir, m bcom from correspondance than i did accounting from icfai university. Pls let me know m i eligible for cpa

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Hi Raj, it is best to ask the CPA Institute. You can contact them here

  2. ABI says

    Thank you so much sir it has enlightened me a lot .

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks Abi! :-)

  3. rakesh says

    hello sir
    I had completed my CA-IPCC I elogible for doing CPA.
    I also completed my bcom

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Rakesh,

      I think if you are, you can give this exam readily. However, if you have not yet completed CA fully, then you will also require a minimum of one year experience in Finance and accounting to appear for CPA exam.


  4. harinder says

    i am a prof) graduate in 2014 now i am planning for cpa . is there any problem to have gap of two year?

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Harinder,

      I don’t think there is any problem if you give the exam after a gap of two years.

      All the best,

  5. rohith says

    hi sir,
    your article is amazing,but i am unable to clear my ca exams for past 3 years.besides i completed my and doing a job in i am interested to take take cpa and after finishing that can i work in india or also i can practise in indian firms.

    • Dheeraj says

      hi Rohith,

      if you wish to work for MNC firms with office in India, then CPA can help you alot.


  6. Suresh Kumar says

    Thank you very much Dheeraj Sir for such a informative guidance on CA vs CPA. Will you please guide me on route to banking career via ICICI PO training by Manipal academy Bangalore. Is this route of training worthy as a career option or should I try Bank PO exams route for banking career?
    Thanks again …..

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Suresh,

      I haven’t heard of ICICI PO training much. Given their brand name, it should be a good place to start. Please do your due diligence before you take the same.

      Best of Luck,

  7. chinmay says

    if i do both ca and cpa will i get any benefit in job,salary?

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Chinmay,

      I have seen that many CAs working for MNCs opt for CPA. Maybe this is due to international opportunities presented to them in the process. Additionally, higher roles in Finance (CFO etc) may require you to have globally recognized accounting certification.


  8. Rehaman says

    Can we study cpa living in India? Are the subjects in CA and CPA are same? Are there any multi national companies in India who are hiring CA A’S?

  9. Mohammad sameer says

    Thanks for your articles, they are great to read and understand. :)
    but i have a doubt in this..
    -Is cpa possible from india?
    -Cpa institutes in india?
    -Where should i write the exam?

  10. Gopal Poddar says

    Thank You sir for such a great explanation.
    Please help me also providing a detailed note regarding admission procedure and coaching facility India.

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Gopal, Thanks. Honestly, I am not much sure of the best coaching institutes available in India.


  11. Anand says

    Dear sir,
    I have completed my graduation in B.Sc.but for CPA B.Com what should I Do?
    Please advise me.

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Anand,

      I am not sure if you can sit for the CPA exam as it requires a minimum level of accounting profiency. However, please write to AICPA to answer your queries regarding the same.


  12. Siddharth Nanda says

    Thank you Sir for bringing the comparison between CPA & CA. Sir, I have one question I am confused whether studying Indian GAAP is more beneficial or US GAAP & IFRS?

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Siddharth,

      It depends on what you want to do in the future. If you are look at becoming CA, then obviously you should focus on Indian GAAP. Also, IFRS and Indian GAAP have lot of similarities.
      For CPAs, US GAAP & IFRS makes more sense.


  13. William T says

    Hello Dheeraj Sir,
    Your articles are always amazing… This article on CPA v.s CA is quite interesting. Seriously you impart the knowledge so well in an article its beyond appreciation. Thank you so much Sir for guiding us with your amazing articles…

    • Dheeraj says

      Thanks William :-)

  14. shrikant says

    Dear Dhiraj,

    Very excellent & knowledgeable info. Keep posting such articles on your site .This will be useful.



    • Dheeraj says

      Thakns Shirkant :-)

  15. Riddhi Chauhan says

    Hello Sir, Thank you for the excellent comparison between CPA v/s CA, your writing style is really good. I just had a question sir that to appear for CPA examination you have to visit USA. Is it true or we can give it from India as well?

  16. David R says

    Thank you Sir for coming up with such an amazing article. I keep reading your blogs and truly they are very interesting. Seriously your articles are always of great help to learn the financial stuffs at such an ease. Good Job Sir…..

    • Dheeraj says

      thank you David!

  17. Kritika Das says

    Awesome article on CPA v/s CA, thank you Sir for coming up with such an enlightening articles. I was confused between choosing CPA or CA designation. But this article has actually helped me to be in a better position and take a wise decision. Thanks once again.

    • Dheeraj says

      Thanks Kritika :-)

  18. Shreyansh Bhattacharya says

    The article is very informative. I wanted to know to your opinion if CPA is more difficult to clear than CA?

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Shreyansh, in general CA is considered to be difficult due to low passing percentages.

  19. Richard damein says

    Thank you Sir for helping me to know the difference between CPA and CA, I always love your articles they are really helpful and informative and it helps me to take better decisions. Keep doing the great work!!!!

    • Dheeraj says

      Thanks Richard :-)

  20. Maria K says

    Really informative article on CPA v/s CA, thank you Sir for covering the most aspects about CPA v/s CA. I am just confused Sir if I pursued for CPA and after gaining few years of experience outside India, will I be able to fetch a better job in India with my CPA designation?

    • Dheeraj says

      Hi Maria,

      I don’t foresee that as a problem. You should be able to get an exciting role with your CPA designation i companies that have multi-national presence.


  21. Anushka says

    Thanks for the comparison. This has been actually been a dilemma for me in the past few months. Have heard and read a lot of comments and conversations on this debate. But I found this pretty in depth and answered quite a few questions I had in mind. I think I would pursue CA :)

    • Dheeraj says

      thanks Anushka!

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