When considering a career in accountancy, one of the biggest decisions to make early on for any potential accountant is what path to take when studying. Both ACCA and ACA will ultimately lead to becoming a fully-fledged accountant, but both paths come with their own challenges and benefits and could ultimately determine what company you work for and what positions open up for you in the accountancy practice world. 

During this article I will go through the finer details of both ACCA and ACA, in the hope to differentiate the two, helping you to make your first big decision in your accountancy career.

ACCA - Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

The ACCA qualification is thought of as the largest and fastest growing global professional accountancy qualification in the world, with over 320,000 members and students in 170 different countries. It usually takes 2 – 3 years to qualify.

The ACCA qualification consists of four modules. These are known as the applied business module, the applied skills module, the essentials module and the options module. 

The ACCA qualification is commonly accepted to recognise a wider variety of accountancy skills and focuses on the technical financial aspects of accountancy. ACCA studiers will tend to pursue careers within practice, audit and tax whilst many Finance Directors and Financial Managers will also possess this qualification.

In order to complete this qualification currently, studiers are required to complete 14 examinations however any individual with an Accounting or Finance related university degree will be exempt from some modules.

ACA - Association of Chartered Accountants.

The ACA qualification is prescribed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and is only offered to individuals employed by an ACA approved institute for training. It typically takes 3-5 years to complete.

There are essentially four parts to attaining the ACA qualification. These being 15 modules, 3 – 5 years practical work experience, professional development and ethics/professional skepticism training. The exams are broken down into three blocks; the certificate level, the professional level and the advanced level. When taking the ACA route, you gain incredible educational support from an outstanding institute, whilst getting hands-on work experience. An accountant who wishes to pursue this qualification will look to a career within the world of private practice. 

An ACA qualification has similarities to that of the ACCA qualification however with more of an external focus.The ACA qualification is considered prestigious within the accountancy world and is a highly sought-after qualification from the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms.

In conclusion both qualifications are highly reputable within the world of accounting, and senior managerial positions will often require a professional qualification for you to be considered for the position. However, as each option follows a slightly different path, it is essential that you fully assess your career aspirations before selecting and undertaking the most appropriate qualification. 

If you would like any more information on this, or would like to discuss your career path, please feel free to email me at Jessica.dodman@aj-chambers.com.