Becoming an Accountant in Canada (CPA / CGA / CMA)

Canadian Schools offering account

Accounting continues to have strong employment and earning potential in Canada.  The merging cost accounting with analysis skills and financial planning,  increasing complexity and changes in corporate tax laws,  foreign tax credits and the growth of commodities has caused a rise in demand.

Business School – Accounting Program Requirements

In order to be accepted to a business program with an accounting school or major program, applicants must meet the following requirements.

  • Passed Grade 12 English ENG 4 University Preparation or ENG 4 College Preparation
  • Passed Grade 11 Mathematics University Preparation or Grade 12 Mathematics University or College Preparation
  • Obtain a high school diploma with the majority of senior credits at University Preparation level, College Preparation or Mature Student Status for students aged 19 and above

Applicants who do not have the above courses are required to complete admission testing. This helps the school in determining their equivalencies. If they have finished the required courses, candidate acceptance is based on their overall grades in high school.

University and College Accounting Degree Programs

Canadian universities and colleges provides students with a well rounded education that includes training in the following areas.

  • Accounting theory and procedures
  • Law
  • Taxation
  • Management
  • Information Systems

They also learn about the most effective practices in accounting. At the same time, they are taught to become adept at using different industry standard software that includes the following.

  • Accpac Plus
  • Simply Accounting
  • Excel
  • Access
  • Profile or Personal Tax

Accounting programs also include field training for students. Most practicums have a total period of around 84 hours. This enables students to gain relevant work experience. Depending on what company they are based at, students sometimes get paid while they are in training. Students are also required to document the following two important things while training.

  • Knowledge of Business Theories and Applications
  • Employment Experience

This important documentation is done through a succession of assignments. These assignments are closely related to the following.

  • Actual Field Placement Experience
  • Job Search Process
  • Specific Courses That Students Have Studied

Accreditation for Accountants

There are a total of three accrediting organizations for accounting schools across Canada that include the following.

  • Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants through the Atlantic School of Chartered Accountancy (http://www.asca.ns.ca/)
  • Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants through the Chartered Accountants  School of Business – Western Canada and the Territories (www.cica.ca)
  • Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants through the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (http://www.icao.on.ca)

Universities that are based in Quebec should have one of the following accreditations.

  • Order des comptables agrees du Quebec (http://ocaq.qc.ca/home.html)
  • Order des comptables en management accredites du Quebec (http://www.cma-quebec.org/en/home.aspx)

Accounting Specializations

Accountants practicing in Canada may have different designations based on their jobs. These designations offer an assortment of specialties. Some of these designations offer value added management experience and business consulting.

Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants or CICA

Chartered Accountants (CA) are the most advanced accountants in Canada today. They are most often vice presidents and controllers of finance. They also specialize in the following roles.

  • Advisory Roles
  • Senior Management
  • Tax Roles
  • Financial Roles
  • Assurance Roles

In order to become a Chartered Accountant, an applicant must have the following.

  • Undergraduate Degree
  • Articling Experience
  • Additional Education
  • Pass the Uniform Evaluation Exam

The Uniform Evaluation is an exam conducted by the CICA. It lasts for three days and is seen as the culmination of years spent studying. This exam has the following core competencies.

  • Assurance
  • Management Decision Making
  • Finance
  • Pervasive Qualities
  • Taxation
  • Performance Reporting and  Measurement
  • Governance, Risk Management and Strategy

Certified General Accountants or CGA

These professionals are considered general accountants. They are active in different areas of government and business accounting. They are also well versed in the following functions.

  • Business Strategy
  • Finance
  • Taxation
  • Business and Management Leadership

Before a student becomes a certified general accountant, they must meet the following requirements.

  • Finish an accounting degree from an accredited school
  • A minimum of 24 months of supervised work experience

Society of Management Accountants of Canada or CMA

Members of this organization specialize in measurement and management. They are mainly found in auditing and manufacturing. These individuals are experts in the following areas.

  • Financial Reporting
  • Business Process
  • Moving from Theoretical Applications to Real World Utilization for Business Solutions

To be a certified management accountant in Canada, applicants must pass exams that test the following critical areas.

  • Financial Analysis
  • Financial Planning
  • Decision Support
  • Financial Control

Canadian Academic Accounting Association

While not a separate accounting entity, this group advocates accounting in Canada. It also promotes top quality accounting education and research across the country. This group is made up of professional accountants, accounting educators and others.


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