What Is a Chartered Accountant (CA)? - Job Description, Degree & Salary

Oct 08, 2019

So you are thinking of a job in accountancy and want more info about the chartered accountant (CA) designation. This article outlines the role of a CA, jobs for chartered accountants, and their potential salary. Read on for more info about CAs.

Info About CAs

What is a chartered accountant, you ask? The job of an accountant can be more specialized than you think. One sub-category of the accountant is that of the chartered accountant, or CA. This is a type of accountant that specializes in financial advising, corporate taxes, corporate auditing, or financial management. This article provides you with the scope of a CA, qualifications, and what you can expect to make. For more CA details, keep reading.

What Is the Job of a CA?

A CA is qualified to perform more robust accounting activities for corporations, individual clients, and other financial institutions. The CA job description might include ensuring the best return on clients' taxes, conducting analyses and advising companies on long-term financial planning strategies like business acquisitions, or performing in-depth audits to ensure accuracy and identify improprieties. Chartered accountants might take on the entire financial management role of the company, or they might contract with multiple clients in a consulting capacity.

How Do You Earn a CA Degree?

The role of a CA is recognized worldwide, but requirements vary from country to country. The CA, often interchangeable in the U.S. with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), requires more education than a standard accountant.

Degree Requirements Most states require 150 college credit hours in accountancy or similar. Generally, 30 hours more than a bachelor's degree in accountancy (some states will accept practical experience as a public accountant instead of college education).
Mandatory Exams All states require you to pass the CPA exam.
Continuing Education Required by most states to maintain your license.

If you're thinking of using your CA credential to specialize in taxes, check out these tax accounting courses. You might also consider opportunities for online accounting education programs if you need more flexibility.

How Much Money Can a CA Make?

The median salary for accountants and auditors in the U.S. in May of 2018 was $70,500 per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and having your CA designation is likely to increase that amount. Fortunately for accountants and auditors, a faster-than-average job growth rate of 10% was expected by the BLS between 2016 and 2026. A strong economy, more globalization of companies, and an increase in publicly offered companies should keep the need for CAs high as financial know-how becomes more complicated. Although advancements in technology can ease the day-to-day burden of CAs, their jobs aren't likely to be eliminated. Instead, CAs will automate more and more simple tasks and spend more energies on work requiring complex financial analysis and expertise.

What Kind of Person Makes a Great CA?

As you can imagine, being a CA is not for everyone. Often, the job requires long hours at certain times of year to meet deadlines such as tax filing. You'll also need a love of computers and working in an office as most of your job will be done in that environment. Travel is possible, but mostly for outside auditors hired to review the financial statements of unaffiliated companies. What other characteristics make up the scope of a CA?

  • Math Skills - Computer programs can significantly streamline your work, but math skills are still required to help ensure accuracy and enable you to understand the financial data presented to you.
  • Communication - Reporting the outcome of audits and analyses, an ability to break down complex concepts, and the ability to understand the needs of clients are the hallmarks of a successful CA.
  • Organization - You'll be getting tons of financial data in formats from paperwork to emails to accounting software outputs to handwritten notes. Keeping it all organized, making sure you meet deadlines, and accurately recording it are where the real challenges lie.
  • Attention to Detail - You'll need to relish getting into the nitty-gritty details of numbers and love cross-checking your work in this role. Mistakes can have big consequences and may potentially cost lots of money to your clients.
  • Analysis - So you have all the data. Now what? What does a CA do with it? Your ability to not only 'crunch the numbers' but be able to holistically analyze the data to get the big picture and provide financial advice is a big part of the job.

So, if you've been wondering 'what is a CA,' now you know the training, job responsibilities, and personality type it takes to be successful. Being a CA is an internationally respected occupation with ongoing room for advancement and growth. On top of that, the salary can be substantial. For the right candidate, it can be a challenging and fulfilling career. Why not start yours today?

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