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What's the difference between a CA and a CPA

What's the difference between a CA and a CPA

Are you considering the prospect of starting a career in the field of finance work as an accountant?

If so, you’ve probably encountered the terms CA and CPA while looking at prospective qualifications. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to make a calculated choice about which path to take unless you understand and appreciate their differences - this article seeks to provide a quick overview of the difference between the two roles and what you might expect from each as a graduate.

While the two qualifications are very much in the same ballpark, there are some clear distinctions too.

Let’s take a look


The Role Of Chartered Accountants

The term ‘CA’ stands for Chartered Accountant and as a role, the chartered accountant tends to focus on the technical aspects of auditing and tax matters. This means that Chartered Accountants are commonly better qualified to deal with the most complex accounting jobs and assignments as this is their core focus.

The practical knowledge acquired from this route is exceptional. The CA role is a necessary role for most mid to larger corporations and professional services firms.


The Role Of Certified Practising Accountants?

The term ‘CPA’ stands for Certified Practising Accountant and by contrast provides a more flexible and versatile approach to finance, as the role tends to cover areas like costing, production, marketing and other aspects of business too. However, this does tend to come at the cost of some of the more technical finance skills found in the focus areas of CA work.

CPAs can and do have a significant impact on the performance of a business by making data-driven suggestions and decisions and being more involved in many of the day-to-day processes and work of their company..


Which Is Best?

The demand for both CA and CPA graduates and roles remains high.

Likewise, both CA jobs and CPA jobs on aggregate pay well once you’ve gained the right experience.  

In many ways it largely comes down to personal preference regarding the type of finance work you’d like to complete and where you would like to sit inside the business - as above the CA role tends to be more finance team focused and as such may not interact heavily with other areas of the business, whereas the CPA can have a marked effect across all business operations and may work with many different teams.

Both roles can be incredibly rewarding, for the above financial reasons but also on a personal level as both are respected and required roles for success in business today.