ACA or ACCA: Which is Better for Your Accounting Career?

Are you ready to speed up your career and ‘’go to the next level’’ in finance and accounting? Selecting an appropriate qualification is not merely a move, but it is truly a leap towards the desired goal. In the world of accounting certifications, two giants stand out: ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant) and ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

The choice between ACCA and ACA often leaves one in a state of confusion, it is like having to choose between two very different careers. These two pathways end at different places, but which one will take you where your heart desires in the world of accounting?

From this blog, you will be able to review in details both qualifications: from the entrance requirements to the potential job opportunities. Our comparative analysis aims not just to inform but to guide you through making a pivotal decision: ACA ‘The right key’ to locking your future in accounting or ACCA?

ACCA vs ACA What is the difference?

The ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is like a magic key that opens doors to finance jobs all over the world. It’s recognized in many countries, so if you like the idea of traveling or working in different places, this might be a good choice. ACCA teaches you about lots of areas in finance, so you can work in big companies, small businesses, or even charities!

The ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant) is a bit like a special club for accountants in the UK. It’s run by a group called the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales). If you dream of working in big, important finance jobs in the UK, like helping companies manage their money or working in big industries, ACA is often picked by those who want to stay and work in Britain.

Now, think about this: if you had a superpower, would you choose to fly anywhere in the world quickly (like ACCA), or would you choose to be super smart about all the secret places in your own hometown (like ACA)? ACCA gives you the freedom to explore many different finance jobs everywhere, while ACA makes you really knowledgeable about finance jobs in the UK. Also, ACCA covers a broader range of topics, which can help if you’re not sure what kind of finance job you want yet. Meanwhile, ACA dives deeper into each topic, which is great if you already know you want to focus on serious finance roles in the UK. So, the choice depends on where you want your finance adventures to take you!

10 Key Difference Between ACA and ACCA

FactorACAACCA
Governing BodyInstitute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
Global RecognitionHighly recognized in the UK and Commonwealth countriesGlobally recognized in over 180 countries
FlexibilityStructured training required under an authorized employerFlexible study options, can be pursued alongside employment
Career OpportunitiesStrong in the UK, especially in audit and tax rolesDiverse opportunities worldwide in various sectors
Course StructureRequires 15 exams and 450 days of practical work experience13 exams with flexible exam sessions
DurationTypically 3 years with full-time employment3-5 years, depending on individual pace
Entry RequirementsOften requires a degree and employment at an authorized training employerMore open, with options to start at various levels depending on qualifications
Exam FocusMore focused on UK-specific standards and practicesBroader international focus
CostsTypically costs about ₹5,00,000 to ₹7,00,000Can range from ₹3,00,000 to ₹4,50,000,
Professional DevelopmentEmphasizes training within an approved framework, often leading quickly to roles in managementEncourages continuous professional development, adaptable to changes in global finance

What is ACA?

  • Origins: The ACA qualification, offered by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), was established in 1880.
  • Purpose: Initially aimed at standardizing accounting practices in England and Wales, the ACA has grown to encompass a broad range of financial, advisory, and auditing skills.
  • Strong Presence in the UK: While the ACA is a UK-based qualification, it is highly respected and recognized in many parts of the world, particularly in Commonwealth countries.

Eligibility for ACA

CriteriaDetails
Educational BackgroundDegree from a recognized university; preference for finance/accounting
Work Experience450 days of practical experience under an ATE
Additional TrainingEthics and professional skepticism module

Quick Take Aways:

  • Flexible Entry: Non-graduates with substantial professional experience in accounting may also be considered, subject to additional assessments.
  • International Candidates: International degrees may be assessed for equivalency.
  • Age Limit: There is no upper age limit to start ACA training.

Exam Process & Duration of ACA Course

Exam Process for ACA

Number of Exams: The ACA qualification involves completing 15 exams, which are divided into three levels: Certificate, Professional, and Advanced.

Exam Levels:

LevelSubjects
Certificate Level– Accounting
– Assurance
– Business, Technology and Finance
– Law
– Management Information
– Principles of Taxation
Professional Level– Audit and Assurance
– Financial Accounting and Reporting
– Financial Management
– Tax Compliance
– Business Planning: Taxation
– Business Strategy and Technology
Advanced Level– Corporate Reporting
– Strategic Business Management
– Case Study (tests overall knowledge and skills)

Registration: Candidates must register for exams through their authorized training employer (ATE) or directly through the ICAEW if self-studying.

Scheduling: Exams are held at specific times throughout the year, and candidates can choose when to sit for them, depending on their readiness and the structure of their training program.

Format: Exams are a mix of computer-based assessments and written exams, especially at the Advanced level.

Passing Criteria: Each exam must be passed to progress to the next level, with a typical pass mark of 50% or above.

Duration of ACA Course

The duration of the ACA qualification varies based on the candidate’s background and pace of study. Here is a table summarizing the typical timelines:

PhaseDurationDetails
Training Agreement3 to 5 yearsContracted period with an ATE, usually 3 years.
Examinations2 to 3 years (concurrent with training)All exams are usually completed within the training period.
Total DurationTypically 3 years, up to 5 yearsDepends on training progress and exam success.
  • Flexibility: While the standard duration is three years under a training agreement, some candidates may extend to five years if they need more time to complete exams or meet practical experience requirements.
  • Continuous Assessment: Throughout the ACA training, candidates are also required to demonstrate professional development and ethical standards, which are assessed continually.

Job Opportunities for ACA in India

Finance and Accounting Roles: ACA qualification holders are highly sought after in finance and accounting sectors. Companies value their strong technical skills and rigorous training, offering roles like financial analysts, finance controllers, and chief financial officers.

Audit and Assurance Services: Many global and Indian firms offer positions in audit and assurance. ACA’s comprehensive audit training makes them ideal for roles in external audit, risk assurance, and compliance.

Consulting and Advisory: The ACA qualification is respected in consulting and advisory services. Professionals often work in financial advisory roles, including mergers and acquisitions, financial restructuring, and business consulting.

Taxation Specialist: ACA’s rigorous training includes in-depth taxation policies making them suitable for roles as tax consultants or tax planning experts in multinational corporations.

Banking and Financial Services: ACAs are well-regarded in the banking sector. They take up strategic roles in investment banking, retail banking, and portfolio management, where their expertise in financial reporting and compliance is invaluable.

Job Opportunities for ACA Globally

SectorRolesOpportunities
Financial Management and ConsultingFinancial Manager, Management Consultant, Financial AdvisorValued in global consulting firms and multinational companies for strategic financial planning and business efficiency improvements.
Public Practice and AuditingAuditor, Compliance Officer, Risk AnalystLead audit teams in international accounting firms, focusing on compliance and risk management.
Corporate Finance and Investment BankingInvestment Banker, Financial Analyst, Corporate TreasurerWork in corporate finance, dealing with mergers and acquisitions, financial modeling, and capital investment strategies.
Taxation SpecialistTax Consultant, Tax ManagerSuitable for international tax planning and consultancy, aiding businesses with cross-border taxation issues.
Non-Profit and Public SectorFinance Director, Internal AuditorContribute expertise to public sector organizations and NGOs, focusing on financial sustainability and governance.

What is ACCA?

  • Foundation: The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) was founded in 1904 with the goal of providing a global standard for accountants.
  • Global Curriculum: ACCA’s curriculum is designed to impart a comprehensive understanding of international financial reporting standards (IFRS) and global financial practices.
  • Global Reach: ACCA is recognized in over 180 countries, making it one of the most global accounting qualifications available today.
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 Eligibility for ACCA

Requirement TypeDetails
Educational BackgroundMinimum: Two A-levels and three GCSEs (or their equivalent) in five separate subjects, including English and Math.
Foundations in Accountancy RouteFor those without the minimum qualifications, starting with ACCA’s introductory courses in accounting and finance is possible.
Graduate Entry RouteGraduates from ACCA-accredited institutions may qualify for exemptions from some exams based on their university courses.
Professional ExperienceNot required for initial registration, but practical experience is needed to complete the qualification.

Important Points to Keep in Mind:

  • Flexibility in Qualification: ACCA provides various entry points, making it suitable for high school graduates, college graduates, and even working professionals.
  • Practical Experience Requirement (PER): A key component of becoming ACCA qualified is gaining 36 months of relevant professional experience which must be documented and verified.

Exam Process & Duration of ACCA Course

Exam Process for ACCA

The ACCA qualification involves a series of exams that are structured across different levels of competency:

Exam LevelDescriptionNumber of Exams
Applied KnowledgeBasic principles of accounting and finance3
Applied SkillsProfessional skills in business and finance6
Strategic ProfessionalAdvanced techniques and strategies in business leadership and management4 (2 essentials and 2 options)

Key Details of the Exam Process:

  • Flexible Schedule: ACCA exams are offered multiple times a year, providing flexibility in planning your study and exam timeline.
  • Exam Format: Exams are a combination of computer-based and paper-based formats, depending on the level.
  • Passing Criteria: Each exam must be passed to advance to the next level, with exams typically requiring a pass mark of 50%.

Duration of the ACCA Course

The time it takes to complete the ACCA qualification can vary based on the individual’s background, exemptions, and study pace:

PhaseTypical DurationDetails
Examinations2-3 yearsTime to pass all required exams, assuming no exemptions and standard progression.
Total Duration3-5 yearsIncluding time for obtaining necessary practical experience and completing the Ethics and Professional Skills module.

Job Opportunities for ACCA in India

SectorRolesEmployersOpportunities
Audit and Assurance ServicesInternal Auditor, External AuditorBig Four accounting firms, audit servicesExpertise in audits, compliance, and reporting standards
Corporate FinanceFinancial Analyst, Financial ControllerMultinational companies, large corporatesFinancial planning, budgeting, strategic decision-making
Taxation and ConsultingTax Consultant, Financial ConsultantTax advisory firms, consultancy firmsTax optimization, financial strategy consulting
Banking and Financial ServicesRisk Manager, Credit AnalystBanks, investment firmsFinancial asset management, risk assessment
Education and TrainingLecturer, TrainerEducational institutions, training centersTeaching and developing finance-related courses

Job Opportunities for ACCA Globally

SectorRolesOpportunities
Financial Management and ConsultingFinancial Manager, Management Consultant, Financial AdvisorValued in global consulting firms and multinational companies for strategic financial planning and business efficiency improvements.
Public Practice and AuditingAuditor, Compliance Officer, Risk AnalystLead audit teams in international accounting firms, focusing on compliance and risk management.
Corporate Finance and Investment BankingInvestment Banker, Financial Analyst, Corporate TreasurerWork in corporate finance, dealing with mergers and acquisitions, financial modeling, and capital investment strategies.
Taxation SpecialistTax Consultant, Tax ManagerSuitable for international tax planning and consultancy, aiding businesses with cross-border taxation issues.
Non-Profit and Public SectorFinance Director, Internal AuditorContribute expertise to public sector organizations and NGOs, focusing on financial sustainability and governance.

Cost Comparison: ACA vs ACCA

QualificationExam Fees (per exam)Study MaterialsOther Expenses
ACA₹10,000 – ₹20,000₹5,000 – ₹15,000Registration, annual fees
ACCA₹8,000 – ₹18,000₹4,000 – ₹13,000Registration, annual subscription

Conclusion: Which Accounting Qualification Is Right for You?

ACA and ACCA: The choice remains. The goals, academic experience, and geographical location of further work will shape your answer. Explicitly, both qualifications can speed up your career dramatically, yet they are more suitable for different tracks and fields.

ACA could be appropriate for the personality type that is aiming to get a job in audit or interested in working in the UK.

ACCA is recognized in most countries in the world and is suitable for entering the international job market.

Finally, it is to assert that it all depends on a vision of where you would like to be in the future. It is also important to think about what kind of job and in which town or city you would like to work after graduation to decide what qualification is the best one for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is ACCA worth it?

ACCA is valuable for its global recognition in accounting and finance careers in more than 180 countries, making it worth.

Which qualification is more globally recognized, ACA or ACCA?

ACA holds a slightly higher global recognition than ACCA, particularly in Western countries, but both qualifications are respected globally.

What is the tougher course, ACA or ACCA?

ACA is generally considered tougher due to its rigorous training and examination standards.

Are there any specific sectors or industries where ACA or ACCA is preferred?

ACA is preferred in auditing, while ACCA is favored in broader financial management sectors.

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