The Accounting Profession, Explained and CA vs CPA

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6 years, 2 months ago (Last modified 5 years, 4 months ago by a moderator)

Hi Mike

The cadetship program was advertised through my local high school so yes I got it straight out of school. I had to go through all the online application process and then the formal interview with about 16 others it was so daunting! I will be graduating this November from my accounting degree. My current employee (in Townsville) has been sold to another accounting firm so I decided to apply for a position at WHK as an accountant (not a graduate position as I hadnt decided to leave the current firm until it was too late to apply for those). I will be starting in the next few weeks should be interesting making the move from top 4 to mid-tier but I am excited.

And by it sucks, I meant the wages for undergrads/grads probably should have been a bit clearer


5 years, 11 months ago


I''ve got to say, I found this thread very enlightening. I have graduated uni with majors in accounting and economics and am currently studying towards my CPA accreditation.

Though I selected CPA, I never really knew the difference between the two, and being the only one among my friends who did select to do CPA, I never understood why everyone else chose CA- now I know, they were already working for firms that must have encouraged CA!

Thank you for the very precise clarifications.

I''d like to know if any of the big accounting companies in Australia accomodate for CPA.

I''m actually trying to find a job where I can accumulate my 3 years of experience to fulfill the requirements for CPA status, it''s becming an exceedingly difficult task.. can anyone help?

5 years, 11 months ago

Hey Accountant2b,

Just before I try to help you out, have you talked to CPA about this? They generally have huge lists of employers that you can do your CPA with... that might be the best bet for finding a graduate job, rather than me trying to rattle off names from the top of my head :)

Let me know though, will be happy to try and help,


5 years, 11 months ago

Hi Mike,

Yes I have been through their list. Most employers are searching for CPA certified accountants. lol when I type in the word junior in the keyword box to narrow the list, I wind up with lists of Senior Accountant positions! I don''t know what it is.

Any help would be appreciated, I''ve been looking for a while. I''ve discovered that the majority of positions are through ''word of mouth'' and sometimes, it''s just ''who you know'' ;)

thank you so much.

5 years, 11 months ago

The large majority of firms do accept CPA as do many of the corporates out there.

CPA will have a lot of accredited firms who are actively looking for the right people. If there search engine is not working give them a call to see if they can provide you with an accurate member list so you can continue your research.

If you do manage to get one that would be fantastic, could you post it here? :D


5 years, 10 months ago


I''m hoping somebody can give me some guidance on the study workload for the CPA.

After 10 years in the workforce as a finance broker, I have decided to change career to accounting. I''m soon to finish an Applied Finance masters with Kaplan by correspondance. I have taken the plunge and secured a grad accounting role to start my practical experience.

My question is, whether anybody has experience of completing 2 CPA modules per study period and whether it is possible?

Before I can get on the professional program I''m required to completed a couple of bridging modules, and I''m concerned about how long the ''CPA'' qualification will take to obtain considering the CPA only have 2 study sessions a year as opposed to CA''s 3.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.



5 years, 4 months ago (Last modified 5 years, 2 months ago by a moderator)


u cant fast track both cpa and ca. its better to take 1 per sem and gain experience as well to complete your PED. CPA requires 35 hours in 44 weeks or 45? cant remember and to finish it in 3 years,(max. 6 yrs) they require atleast one subject because they want u to learn from ur work, to much theories, assignmnts etc. is useless without proper application of what you have learned.

regarding the topic, look, u have to think which area in accounting do u want to wrk? is it auditing? consultancy? or mybe a corporate accountant? ive already post a similar answer to other forums with the same query.

my answer is, it doesnt matter wether its cpa or ca because , being qualified is better than just being a normal accounting graduate.

im a cpa, im an accountant (contractor) in a manufacturing firm, my job is more focus on management accounting (not managers ok??) more on unit production accounting etc, budgeting, forecast all those sort of things. now im also a small tax business owner, im tax agent thats y i am only working as a contractor. 

now if ur an international student, migration is looking for skilled management accountants and i guess CPA is more focus on corporate side so u better take cpa.

however if your intersted in wrking in an Accounting firm, which is more focus on reporting, tax consultancy etc. then go take ca

u can take cpa or ca first then do the other. the good thing is, once ur qualified by one, they will waive the practical experience and u need to only do the modules of that program..

fine, some says ca is challenging, really it doesnt matter, becz ull learn from ur wrk experience , its not just about all those theories and calculation, assignmnts etc.. cpa is distance becz they assume u have self discipline to learn both from the modules and experience..

im not bragging but imho, im paid very good amount of $$$ with the benefit of working in normal hours.. yeah sumtimes ill do overtime (deadlines) but atleast i still have time for my other business. moreover, what really matters is the money in your bank and prestige is just 2nd thing for me.. i didn't even attempt to apply to those big 4 because i knw theres more people brighter than me and i wouldnt be able to progress quickly, but in the company i worked for, my effort is appreciated and so my pay.=)

hope it helps

5 years, 4 months ago

Nice Advice godez godez! Very much appreciated!

4 years, 10 months ago

Just curious I'm going to start studying the CPA program in July after graduation. I've had 10yrs+ experience in senior accounting management so the 3yrs experience component isn't a problem. Question is the CPA website recommend only taking 1 subject per semester if working full-time. How possible is ot to take 2 subjects per semester whilst working? Anyone done this?

Thanks for your help

4 years, 10 months ago

Hey Vlad. I worked full time while studying. I did two subjects. I guess the main things to consider would be the subjects, the level of difficulty and the university you are at. Some courses are designed to be studied in a students own time off campus. Point is if you feel you can do it, do it. It will be a hard six months but I managed to get through it when I did it.


4 years, 10 months ago

Thanks Mike - I too have studied 2 subjects per semester at uni as part of my Bcom. I guess I'm wondering how much harder are the CPA Professional level subjects as opposed to the accounting subjects covered in the Bcom?


Thanks again


4 years, 10 months ago

Hmm thats something that I cannot answer as I have not done an accounting qualification. What I can tell you is that I have had a number of friends go through CA in Australia and New Zealand and they found the work load to be very intense with the workshops and final exam taking a lot of time and energy.


4 years, 10 months ago

Hi, I saw this thread when searching for personal accounts of the CPA/CA experience and couldn't resist.

Despite not really knowing the difference between the two I always thought that I would do CPA if anything mainly because of their flexibility  and because I always saw the same presenters at Uni and thought that they seemed pretty friendly. I didn't really seem to gain an impression about CA except that they have strict entry requirements and the courses are killer. I understand that these are professional organisations and the programs are not just more textbook study but for someone like me who is very average in the academic department, finding a job at a CA firm (for the work-experience/mentor component) just to start the program and then maintaining the work-study balance throughout seems like an almost insurmountable challenge.

I always thought I would just skip through to plan B - pursue further qualifications, namely CPA, as plan A - land a job, seemed a distant dream. However, by some miracle (a fantastic interviewer) I actually got an offer from a large

accounting firm and while they say that they take both it's my

impression that they are really a CA kind of firm.

It feels like an abrupt about turn now considering the CA program and I'm still not too keen on their steep entry requirements (seems I have to contact my future employer to get someone to vouch for me as a mentor and I'm yet to officially graduate. Hell, I don't even know if I've passed my final units!) Don't get me wrong, I'm keen to start the next leg of my life and become a full fledged professional ASAP but I'm seriously anxious about the CA program primarily because of what I've heard about the study load.

Guess its a bit much to ask for advice...I know that I should probably try approaching both organisations + I'm eying the CA thread as a way of getting in touch with people already doing the program. I guess I just want to weigh in on this debate. I've never thought of the prestige factor, I prefer flexibility and an open friendly approach but it looks like I might be about to contradict myself... @_@

4 years, 9 months ago

After doing some research I prefer the CA designation over CPA. It's more recognised by many international accountancy bodies. It's the only Australian accounting body that's a member of the Global Accounting Alliance.

CPA exams are mostly multiple-choice and easy to pass. CA exams are more difficult and are all problem-solving written exams where you show all your solutions, workings and reasoning, just like what you do in day-to-day real-life business. Although it's more rigorous and more time consuming than CPA, it's well worth it. That's why there are fewer Chartered Accountants than Certified Practicing Accountants. Everyone is taking the CPA these days they have a mass-market approach to getting members.

Also with the CA you get a Graduate Diploma which is an accredited post-uni qualification. And CA is the only Australian qualification recognised by the US Certified Public Accountants. By the way "CPA" in the US is totally different from Australian "CPA".

4 years, 9 months ago

Also you don't need to work for a CA firm in order to start your CA. I work in a bank and my officemate is my mentor.

3 years, 9 months ago (Last modified 3 years, 8 months ago by the original author)

Good question Vlad as its the eternal question of every career accountant.

Well done Makina for getting your role.

Vlad, do not stress about the CPA technical workload. If you have passed uni ok, the CPA for you should be reasonably ok as its rather similar - its more of a different focus and also more detail in certain areas. Just think of CPA as the 4th year in your uni degree.

The key for most people when working and doing CPA/CA is time management. You may work long hours, you may have a partner who needs attention, you may even have a young family. These to me are the biggest challenges in passing professional industry qualifications.

As to the question of CPA vs CA, I am a CPA, but have not done CA. I have mentored both candidates during my career and the CA is much more rigorous. Its actually quite painful. From that experience, I feel the CA is more focused on public practice relative to CPA and there is stronger focus on audit.

As for prestige - CA is harder to get in as there are stricter entry requirements (need to be working for a public practice firm). So yes, there are less CAs than CPAs. Does that mean its better prestige? Possibly.

As for getting a job - I ask u this question - when looking for roles, how many of them state CA/CPA as one, meaning there is basically no distinction between them? Almost all job ads. The odd CA firm will want CA only.

In my opinion, focus on getting the job. If CPA is an easier path to where you want to go, then thats suitable. If you want prestige, you might have to work for it a little harder. Do note however, once you get your qualification which u worked so hard for, these things become less important, as your experience will speak louder than your qualification (of course such a qualification is a pre-requisite for getting a job, right?). 

FYI, at Florian Partners, we offer accounting internships to help you begin your accounting career, so we are happy to discuss your needs and how we can help you.

Good luck

Florian Partners

2 years ago

During my job searches in the past on SEEK, I have noticed that over 90% of companies require a CA/CPA ... However there is a small proportion of ads which want a CA. This does make it look like doing the CA opens more doors for people early on in their careers. Of course for people with over 10 years of proven experience prospective employers probably wouldn't care!

2 years ago (Last modified 2 years ago by the original author)

So overall is CPA or CA a better option globally? Also what about IPA (Institute of Public Accountants)? I am struggling to decide which path is best for the future job prospects.

2 years ago

There's a reason why CPA USA recognises CA Australia and not CPA Australia.

9 months, 2 weeks ago

CPA Australia is to recognise the qualified accountants of Australia, CA is the equivalent of CPA Australia to recognise the qualified accountants of UK.

If you live in Australia, quite obvious you should study the CPA Australia, same for the UK situation. If you lived in Asia, I can't give you any opinions. Some are more than willing to hire accountants with a CPA from the US. CPA Australia and CA have the same standing basically, some employers may think otherwise. Just take note of the modules that you take, e.g. taxation and superannuation modules may not apply to certain jurisdiction, the key is to apply what you have learnt and convert that into what is normally practiced in your jurisdiction.