A chartered accountant is a professional who has studied public accounting outside of the United States and has successfully earned the designation from the recognized accounting body in his country. Countries such as Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia and England offer the chartered accountant designation; the United States only offers the Certified Public Accountant designation. Nevertheless, some state accounting organizations recognize the chartered accountant qualification. The qualification is highly prized because it is internationally recognized and chartered accountants can work in many different countries.
The specific requirements for becoming a chartered accountant differ from country to country depending on the national accounting body. Nevertheless, obtaining an undergraduate degree in accounting, business, finance or a related field from a properly accredited university is typically required in most countries. However, in countries such as India and Bangladesh, candidates may not require a degree; they can take the competency professional test – the first step in qualifying for the designation – right after 12th grade.
On-the-job training is essential for acquiring the necessary experience to take the accountancy exam. The training period differs in each jurisdiction but accountants seeking certification need to work under a certified accountant in a CPA firm or a government agency. For example, in Australia, accountants need at least three years' experience under an approved employer to qualify for the exam.
Candidates have to pass the chartered accountancy exams administered by their examining bodies. The exams are given periodically during the year and over a period of time. For example, in Canada, candidates take the core-knowledge and school of accountancy professional exams before taking the final one, the Uniform Evaluation Exam. It is conducted over a period of three days and tests areas such as governance, strategy and risk management.
After successfully passing the exam and meeting all the other prescribed requirements, a candidate may be certified as a chartered accountant. Most jurisdictions allow candidates to re-take the exam. In many jurisdictions, the new chartered accountant would have to join the national accounting body not only to prove that he has obtained the certification in his own country but also to be recognized and allowed to practice in other countries.
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