What Is a Chartered Accountant (CA)?

A chartered accountant (CA) is a financial professional who is qualified to execute certain accounting procedures. It also refers to an accounting designation granted internationally to individuals aside from the United States. CAs work in four main areas, including applied finance, financial accounting and reporting, management accounting, and taxation. Their responsibilities may include filing taxes and auditing financial statements. This designation is the same as the certified public accountant (CPA) designation in the United States.


  • 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)

As noted above, a chartered accountant is a financial professional who works in the field of accounting. The designation held by CAs is the international equivalent of a CPA in the United States. CAs earn their designation based on the rules and regulations of the country in which they work.

Chartered accountants work both in 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:

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 they may work as freelancers who handle accounting matters for multiple clients. The CA designation proves CAs are qualified to file a business’s tax return, audit financial statements and business practices, and offer advisory services to clients.

CAs and CPAs perform very similar tasks on a day-to-day basis.


How to Become a Chartered Accountant

Different countries impose different rules and regulations on the process of becoming a CA, which means there is no streamlined path to becoming designated. But CAs generally need a university degree in a related field, such as math, accounting, or finance. Special coursework may also be required to get certified.

For example, prospective accountants in New Zealand 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 must then complete a practical experience program before they enroll in and complete a CA program. These programs train candidates in modern accounting methods.2

In Canada, people who wish to become chartered professional accountants must complete an undergraduate degree with coursework in business and accounting areas. Then they can enroll in a professional education program for chartered professional accountants.3

Chartered accountants claim to be the first accounting group to form a professional body, in 1854 in Scotland.4 There are now many organizations that CAs belong to across the world, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.


Job Outlook and Salary for CAs

The job outlook for chartered accountants depends on the country in which you are employed. But there is generally a strong demand for CAs because of the skills they possess, including analytical and technical skills, communication skills, time management, and problem-solving.

In Canada, the median hourly salary for CAs was $38.46 in 2021. The national job market is characterized as good when taking provincial markets into account. The period between 2022 and 2031 is expected to see 88,000 new jobs in this field.3

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the United States combines accountants and auditors into a single category. The job outlook is expected to be 6% between 2021 and 2031, which is as fast as average. It’s expected that there will be 81,800 additional jobs created during this 10-year period. The median annual salary was $77,250 in 2021.5


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

The main difference between CAs and chartered public accountants is that the CPA is a designation used in the United States, while CA is used in many other countries. The CPA abbreviation can refer to different types of accounting professionals in different parts of the world. For example, in Canada, a CPA is a chartered professional accountant; 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.


What’s the Difference Between a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Public Accountant?

The primary difference between chartered accountants and certified public accountants is that these designations are used in different parts of the world. But they do perform many of the same functions. Professionals with these designations work in the public and private sector for corporations, individuals, governments, and organizations. The are responsible for filing taxes, applied finance, auditing and financial reporting, and management accounting. In some countries, CAs can pass a test to work in the United States as CPAs.


How Do I Become a Chartered Accountant?

The requirements to become a chartered accountant depend on the country where you live. But in most cases, you must have at least an undergraduate degree in a related field, such as accounting or finance, and you must complete special coursework to get your designation or certification. Work experience also helps, so if you have the opportunity to do an internship, don’t pass up the chance.


What Is the Job Outlook for Accountants and How Much Do They Earn?

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.5


The Bottom Line

Demand for accountants is strong and steady, and there are a number of different options available for anyone who’s looking for a career in the field, including chartered accountants. These professionals have special certifications in different countries and have similar job responsibilities as chartered public accountants in the U.S. You can find work as a CA in the public or private sector with businesses, governments, individual taxpayers, and/or organizations.