How to Become a Company Secretary (CS): A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Become a Company Secretary (CS) is a rewarding journey that involves a series of educational and professional steps. If you aspire to take on this role, follow this step-by-step guide:

Who is a Company Secretary?

A Company Secretary (CS) is a professional responsible for ensuring the smooth administration and compliance of a company with legal and regulatory requirements. Serving as an in-house expert, a Company Secretary plays a pivotal role in corporate governance, statutory compliance, and decision implementation. Their expertise extends to corporate and securities laws, making them valuable advisors to the board of directors. Key responsibilities include guiding on financial reporting, business conduct, corporate strategy development, and managing situations involving conflicts of interest. Understanding the role of a Company Secretary is fundamental for those aspiring to pursue this career path.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Company Secretary

A Company Secretary is a multifaceted professional with a diverse set of responsibilities:

  1. Facilitator: Acts as a crucial liaison between the company, its Board of Directors, government bodies, shareholders, and regulatory authorities.
  2. Board Procedures: Ensures adherence to legal procedures by the Board and regularly reviews and updates governance practices.
  3. Governance Advisor: Provides guidance to the Board on best governance practices and ensures compliance with corporate governance norms.
  4. Incorporation Services: Manages secretarial services, including the promotion and incorporation of companies, maintenance of secretarial records, and coordination of board or general meetings.

These responsibilities collectively contribute to the Company Secretary’s role as a cornerstone in maintaining legal compliance, governance standards, and effective communication within the company and with external stakeholders.

Eligibility Criteria for Company Secretary Course

To become a Company Secretary, candidates must progress through three stages: Foundation, Intermediate, and Final. Here are the eligibility criteria for each stage:

  1. Foundation Course:
    • After completing Class 12, students can enroll in the ICSI Foundation Course.
    • The course duration is eight months, and it must be completed within three years of admission.
  2. Intermediate Course:
    • Upon completion of the Foundation Course, students can enroll in the ICSI Intermediate Course.
  3. Final Course:
    • After clearing the Intermediate course, students become eligible to enroll in the Final Course.
  4. Training:
    • After completing the Final level, candidates must undergo practical training.
  5. Associate Membership:
    • The practical training, acquired during the Intermediate and Final levels, helps obtain Associate membership of ICSI.
  6. Career Path:
    • After completing successful training, candidates become eligible to be designated as an Associate Company Secretary.

The journey in the career of a Company Secretary truly commences upon achieving the status of an Associate Company Secretary.

CS Course Application Process: Required Documents

If you’re considering the process of becoming a Company Secretary, here is a list of essential documents needed for applying to a CS course:

  1. Latest Photographs
  2. Signature
  3. Secondary School Certificate:
    • Proof of Date of Birth issued by CBSE or ICSE.
  4. Consolidated Marksheet:
    • Higher Secondary Certificate exam or equivalent from CBSE or ICSE.
  5. Roll Number Certificate:
    • Issued by the education board if appearing for HSC or its CBSE/ICSE equivalent.
  6. Copies of Passing Certificate with Marksheet:
    • For BCom, MCom, or CA students.
  7. Medical Certificate
  8. Caste Certificate:
      • For SC/ST/OBC exemptions.
  9. Identity Proof:
    • Aadhar Card, PAN Card, Valid Driving License, or Passport.

Ensure that you have these documents in order to facilitate a smooth application process for the CS course.

CS Exam Fee Structure:

If you’re planning to appear for the Company Secretary (CS) examinations, here is the fee structure for each level:

  1. Foundational Programme: 1200 INR
  2. Executive Programme: 1200 INR per module
  3. Professional Programme: 1200 INR per module

Steps for How to become CS

1. Understand the Role of a Company Secretary:

  • Gain a clear understanding of the responsibilities and role of a Company Secretary. CS professionals play a crucial role in ensuring compliance, governance, and effective communication between the board, management, and stakeholders.

2. Educational Qualifications:

  • To become a CS in India, the first step is to complete the Foundation Program of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI). This program is open to 10+2 pass students.

3. Enroll for the CS Executive Program:

  • After completing the Foundation Program, enroll for the CS Executive Program. This program consists of two modules, each with subjects related to law, governance, and management.

4. Professional Training:

  • Undergo a 15-month practical training period after passing the Executive Program. This practical training can be completed in companies, law firms, or with practicing Company Secretaries.

5. Clear CS Executive Program:

  • Successfully clear both modules of the CS Executive Program. This includes passing the exams and completing the practical training.

6. Register for the CS Professional Program:

  • Once you’ve completed the Executive Program, register for the CS Professional Program. This program further deepens your knowledge in areas like corporate governance, ethics, and strategic management.

7. Professional Training (Optional):

  • You have the option to undergo professional training for 21 months with a company or under a practicing Company Secretary after passing the Executive Program. Alternatively, you can choose to complete this training after passing the Professional Program.

8. Pass CS Professional Program:

  • Clear all the modules of the CS Professional Program by passing the exams. Successful completion of the Professional Program is a significant step toward becoming a qualified Company Secretary.

9. Apply for Associate Membership:

  • Apply for Associate Membership of ICSI after completing the Professional Program and the required training. This is a crucial step to be recognized as a qualified Company Secretary.

10. Obtain Certificate of Practice (Optional):

  • If you wish to practice as a Company Secretary, you can apply for and obtain a Certificate of Practice from ICSI. This allows you to offer professional services to the public.

11. Continuous Professional Development:

  • Engage in continuous professional development by participating in seminars, workshops, and other programs to stay updated with industry regulations and best practices.

12. Stay Ethical and Compliant:

  • Adhere to high ethical standards and stay informed about changes in company law and governance practices to ensure compliance.

13. Join Professional Organizations:

  • Consider joining professional organizations related to corporate governance and management to expand your network and stay connected with industry professionals.

By following these steps and completing the required programs, exams, and training, you can achieve your goal of how to become a qualified Company Secretary and contribute to effective corporate governance and compliance.