What Is a CA (Chartered Accountant) and What Do They Do?

What Is a CA (Chartered Accountant) and What Do They Do?

What is a Chartered Accountant (CA)?

A Chartered Accountant (CA) is a financial professional with the qualification to perform specific accounting tasks. The designation is internationally recognized, excluding the United States, and is equivalent to the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation in the U.S. CAs specialize in areas such as applied finance, financial accounting and reporting, management accounting, and taxation. Their duties often include tax filing and auditing financial statements.
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Key Takeaways: Chartered Accountants (CA)

  • Chartered accountants are financial professionals who execute accounting procedures.
  • The CA designation is granted to accounting professionals in many countries around the world, aside from the United States.
  • The equivalent to the CA designation in the U.S. is a chartered public accountant.
  • CAs typically focus on one of the following areas: audit and assurance, financial accounting and reporting, management accounting, and applied finance or taxation.
  • Some chartered accountant institutions have reciprocity agreements with the U.S., whereby if they pass certain exams, they can work as CPAs.

Duties and Responsibilities of Chartered Accountants (CAs)

Chartered accountants (CAs) are financial professionals who work in the field of accounting. They hold an international designation equivalent to a CPA in the United States and earn their designation based on the rules and regulations of the country in which they work.

Roles and Specializations:

CAs work in both the private and public sectors for organizations, businesses, governments, and individuals to help them meet their financial needs. They generally focus on one of four areas:

  1. Applied finance
  2. Financial accounting and reporting
  3. Management accounting
  4. Taxation


Depending on their area of focus, CAs may handle one aspect of a company’s business, such as auditing financial statements. Others may oversee all of a company’s accounting needs or work as freelancers handling accounting matters for multiple clients. The CA designation signifies that CAs are qualified to:

  • File a business’s tax return
  • Audit financial statements and business practices
  • Offer advisory services to clients


How to Become a Chartered Accountant

Becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA) involves following specific steps and meeting certain requirements, which can vary depending on the country. Here’s a general overview of the process:

Education and Qualifications:

  1. Obtain a University Degree: Most countries require a university degree in a related field such as accounting, finance, or business. Some countries may also accept candidates with degrees in other fields if they complete additional coursework in accounting.
  2. Complete Specialized Coursework: Depending on the country, candidates may need to complete specific coursework related to accounting and business topics. This coursework is often part of the requirements for certification.

Practical Experience:

  1. Gain Practical Experience: Many countries require candidates to complete a certain amount of practical experience in accounting under the supervision of a qualified professional. This experience helps candidates apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations.
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Professional Certification:

  1. Enroll in a Professional Program: Candidates must enroll in a professional program for Chartered Accountants, which typically includes additional coursework and examinations.
  2. Pass Examinations: Candidates must pass a series of examinations to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in accounting and related areas.
  3. Obtain Certification: After completing the required education, coursework, practical experience, and examinations, candidates can obtain certification as a Chartered Accountant.

Continuing Education:

  1. Maintain Certification: Chartered Accountants are often required to participate in continuing education programs to stay updated with the latest developments in accounting practices and regulations.


In New Zealand, prospective accountants must complete a recognized academic program such as a three-year bachelor’s degree or an accredited master’s degree covering accounting and business topics. Candidates then complete a practical experience program before enrolling in and completing a CA program, which trains them in modern accounting methods.

Chartered accountants are credited with forming the first professional body for accountants in 1854 in Scotland. Today, CAs belong to various professional organizations worldwide, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Job Outlook and Salary for Chartered Accountants

The job outlook for chartered accountants varies by country but is generally strong due to the valuable skills they possess, including analytical, technical, communication, time management, and problem-solving skills.


  • Median hourly salary in 2021: $38.46
  • National job market outlook: Good, with 88,000 new jobs expected between 2022 and 2031.

United States:

  • Median annual salary in 2021: $77,250
  • Job outlook between 2021 and 2031: 6% growth rate, as fast as average, with 81,800 additional jobs expected.

It’s important to note that these figures are subject to change and can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and industry.

Chartered Accountant (CA) vs. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

The primary distinction between Chartered Accountants (CAs) and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) is that the CPA designation is used exclusively in the United States, while CA is used in many other countries. The CPA abbreviation may refer to different types of accounting professionals in various parts of the world. For example, in Canada, a CPA is a Chartered Professional Accountant, and in Australia, a CPA is a Certified Practicing Accountant.

Members of Chartered Professional Accountants Canada, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and Chartered Accountants Ireland have a reciprocity agreement with the United States. If these CA professionals pass a test, their qualifications can transfer to the United States, where they may work as CPAs.

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Difference Between a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Public Accountant

The primary difference between Chartered Accountants (CAs) and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) is that these designations are used in different parts of the world. However, both CAs and CPAs perform many of the same functions and work in similar roles in the public and private sectors for corporations, individuals, governments, and organizations.

Functions and Responsibilities

Both CAs and CPAs are responsible for various financial tasks, including filing taxes, applied finance, auditing, financial reporting, and management accounting.

International Recognition

In some countries, such as Canada, Australia, and Ireland, there is a reciprocity agreement that allows CAs to pass a test to work in the United States as CPAs. This means that their qualifications can transfer, and they can practice as CPAs in the United States after passing the relevant exam.

Job Outlook and Salary for Accountants

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants earned an average of $77,250 annually in 2021. The industry is expected to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031 with an additional 81,800 jobs during that time.

Demand and Career Opportunities

Demand for accountants is strong and steady, offering a range of career options in both the public and private sectors. Accountants work with businesses, governments, individual taxpayers, and organizations, providing essential financial services and expertise.

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