Charted Accountant (CA) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) are two very important terms in the accounting domain.  Let’s look at each of them closely to better understand.

Who is a Charted Accountant (CA):

CAs or Charted accountants work in the area of business and finance including auditing and taxation. This professional degree is internationally recognized. In India, CA or charted accountants are recognized by the Institute of Charted Accountants of India or the ICAI.

What’s the procedure to become a Chartered Accountant:

Attaining a license to practice for CA in India requires hard work, its minimum duration is four years and one has to succeed in 3 levels to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. Many aspiring students start preparing for CA while pursuing their graduation in commerce. It generally comprises of 3 levels namely Foundation, Intermediate and Final level. Foundation course consists of 4 papers, intermediate comprises of 2 groups (Group I & Group II) each consisting of 4 papers and the final level having the same combination as intermediate. To complete CA, one also requires 3 years of practical training or articleship in a charted accountant firm. Qualifying as a CA generally takes time but is relatively less expensive than CPA.

CPT or the common proficiency test is an entrance test that is conducted across India for pursuing CA. This exam is conducted twice a year in the months of May and November. Common Proficiency test is an objective test which incorporates negative marking. It assesses the aspirants on four subjects:

  1. Fundamentals of Accounting
  2. Mercantile Law
  3. General Economics and
  4. Quantitative Aptitude

Registration fees for the CPT exam is Rs. 6,000.00 which is payable to Institute of Charted Accountants of India.

Who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA):

CPA or Certified Public Accountant designation in the USA is the equivalent of CA in India.  They are regulated by the United States at the state level. CPA or certified public accountant are governed by the AICPA or the American  Institute of Certified Accountants. They have expertise in both federal and state US tax laws, regulations and US GAAP accounting.

What’s the procedure to become a Certified Public Accountant:

CPA examination is conducted online and twice in every quarter. Aspirants can choose the examination window as per their convenience. The exam is conducted online and consists of objective questions.

CPA examination is divided into four segments namely:

  1. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  2. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
  3. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  4. Regulation (REG)

All these sections have a 4-hour exam each which includes multiple choice questions , task based simulations and document review simulation. One must pass all the sections within the 18 month time frame. BEC section also contains three written responses. Total testing time is for 16 hours.

Examination is available during specific periods called testing periods, there are four testing windows i.e. March, June, September and December. There is no minimum number of sections that must be completed in a testing window. Aspirants can take sections in any order, and one does not have to pass one section prior to applying for another.

Who can apply for CPA:

To sit for the CPA examination, one must have a bachelor’s degree or a higher degree that includes at least 24 semester hours of accounting at graduate level, including coverage of financial accounting, auditing, taxation and management accounting.  The aspirants must have completed 4 yrs of education credits in graduation or graduation + post graduation. Aspirants with graduation and diploma in international courses are also eligible. CPA is also one of the most sought after courses by Chartered Accountants as it opens door to international and global companies.

Examination for CPA is conducted in the United States of America and international testing locations such as Japan, Brazil, Baharain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the UAE. Exam application process is quite similar for the applicants in the US and outside the US. One would have to establish the eligibility through a jurisdiction participating in the international administration of the exam . Application of examination also depends on the jurisdiction, for e.g. it takes $ 1,000.00 in Minnesota, $ 898.00 in Washington and approximately $ 742.00 in Florida when applying for all 4 sections. Self study and online review courses are considered as the safest bet by most students planning to crack the CPA exam.

Should one go for CA or CPA?

Watch this infographic video on a comparison between CA & CPA.


Although both the certifications are difficult to obtain, but once acquired, it can open up many avenues for any individual. Both these qualifications are of equal standing in their own right as both the courses provide great insights into accounting and provide unmatched job opportunities.

There are certain differences in the courses. CA degree is more tilted towards auditing and the taxation aspect while CPA is more skewed towards costing aspects of accounting. CPA expands an individual’s thinking as it focuses on broader aspects of management.

Though both the professional degrees have their own advantages, CPA has now become a professional certification with an edge as CPA’s are  conversant with both the IFRS or the International financial reporting standards as well as US GAAP (Generally accepted accounting Principles). This is due to the advent of global reporting standards, now even Indian MNC’s  are recognizing the need for a qualified CPA. This proficiency and expertise are really important in today’s changing environment.  Hence CPA’s draw a handsome salary package at any organization. CPA has become a more sought after degree in the recent times. CPA opens prospects towards fields such as assurance, auditing, forensics accounting, environmental accounting, internal and external reporting, financial controlling, financial planning and analysis, taxation and strategy.

Chances are, if you have cleared the CA exam in India, CPA becomes easier to crack. Having a combined CA and a CPA as a qualification is a great value addition not just on salary scale but also in skill set. One becomes conversant with US GAAP, Ind GAAP and IFRS, which is a lethal combination to have.

Want to check your eligibility for CPA? Share your academic & professional background with us at

A quick summary of comparison between CA & CPA :

Which course is best to prepare for CPA?

If you are a CPA aspirant then it is advised that you follow course material to prepare for the exam. Course materials give you a comprehensive and step by step guidance for the preparation. Some of the course materials also come with planning tools that help you plan and schedule your study guide and approach as per your current standing. These tools are very helpful for professionals who would like to prepare while continuing their job. One of the best review courses is offered by Wiley Online Training and it is called Wiley CPA excel course. The course is recognized globally as the best preparatory material for CPA. It comes with planning tools and test banks which are constantly upgraded to keep up with the changes in the exam. Single most attractive feature of this course is that its pass percentage is 90% i.e.  90% students who complete the Wiley course, crack the CPA examination. With the course you don’t require any external help or coaching to pass the exam. With the plan guide and the study guide, even the professionals caught in 9 to 6 jobs can qualify the CPA exam in 1st attempt itself. The course consists of over 110 hours of lectures prepared by globally recognized faculty and consists of over 7500 latest and up to date exam questions to guide aspirants on every step of the way.

Wiley Online Training is among the global leaders in international training for CPA, CFA, FRM, Data Science & Analytics. It has helped over 500,000 professionals across the globe. With Wiley Online Training, 9 out of 10 students pass their exams. Want to find out more? Call us at 0120-6291100/01 or drop us a quick message here

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