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CA vs CPA : Which one is better for you? What are the differences?

January 8, 2014
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“How is CPA different from CA? Would it be advantageous to pursue CPA over CA?”


Considering the various parameters on which you could compare the two courses, we have narrowed down the comparison on the 7 parameters listed below:

1) International recognition: A CPA student enjoys the membership of AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants), while a CA student enjoys membership of ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). AICPA is world’s largest accounting body while ICAI has little international recognition.

2) Syllabus domain: A CPA student learns about IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and GAAS (Generally Accepted Accounting Standards). The knowledge that is gained is primarily international and specifically US based as compared to the CA students who gains knowledge based on Indian laws. This gives a certain edge to the students if they work for US firms or clients.

3) Ease of Examination: CPA include just 4 exams which are bifurcated into multiple choice and subjective exams. CA on the other hand includes a total of 16 exams including CPT/IPCC/Final. All the exams in CA are short and long answers type and requires off line mode of answering. CPA has online examination.

4) Time to completion: CPA takes around 7 months to be completed with proper guidance and devotion. On the other hand, CA requires a minimum of 4 years to completion.

5) Career Opportunities: A licensed CA professional can have tremendous opportunities for exploitation in India. But in modern ages where many firms are recruiting accountants to manage work of US clients, CPA professionals are taking an edge over the CA professionals. Moreover, with international recognition shining in the armor of a CPA, the opportunities on the global level certainly seek CPA professionals. CA professionals on the other hand are restricted in the matter of opportunities by geographical Indian border.

6) Work Experience: CPA license and certification is issued when a candidate passes the exams and gains one year work experience in the CPA field. The CA license is issued only when a candidate gains minimum 3 years of article-ship in a CA firm. Clearly, the task is more tedious for a CA candidate.

7) COST: Last but probably the major factor governing the career pathways of students, the expenses incurred while pursuing CPA is greater than that of CA. The most prominent factor reflecting the cost hike in case of CPA is the cost of US travel. Because as per the rules of AICPA, the CPA examination cannot be given from any other place but US & the Middle-east.

But then, the increased cost saves you the most precious currency: time. Moreover, the advantages listed as above surely count big time as well.

On the brighter side, the CPA examination offers you a chance to visit US more easily as the visa officials know very well about the CPA examination venue restriction. But just in case, if all CPA formalities are done for and US visa is denied to any candidate on any other ground, there is a high risk for candidate losing his/her money and time.

Overall, in the larger scheme of things, the war between CPA and CA can be summarized as below:

For those who have been pursuing CA or are licensed CA professionals, taking a step forward to pursue CPA is a great option. This opens up great opportunities in the MNCs and improves your chances of working abroad. Moreover, additional knowledge does no harm and with expanded domains of knowledge, growth is certain .

EduPristine is Becker's official training provider for CPA Course.

CPA or CA?


About the Author

Trusted by Fortune 500 Companies and 10,000 Students from 40+ countries across the globe, it is one of the leading International Training providers for Finance Certifications like FRM®, CFA®, PRM®, Business Analytics, HR Analytics, Financial Modeling, and Operational Risk Modeling. EduPristine has conducted more than 500,000 man-hours of quality training in finance.


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