Have you ever considered a career in accounting, auditing, tax or financial management? Do you share the dream of many others of having those admired four letters at the end of your name someday – CA(SA)? Do you know the rules of the game to get there?

Here is the low-down on how to qualify as a Chartered Accountant in South Africa.

Firstly, you need to get the technical knowledge of the game. No soccer, netball, rugby or player of any other sport can participate without first knowing what the rules of the game are. This part of becoming a CA(SA) requires you to study and successfully complete a bachelor’s degree in Accounting Science at a tertiary institution or university. Thereafter, you need to pass an Honours year or Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Accounting Science (CTA). This will take a minimum of four years to complete.

This intensive training and learning of the technical rules of the CA(SA) game make you eligible to write the first of two qualifying exams for SAICA (the professional membership body for Chartered Accountants in South Africa). This first exam is referred to as the Initial Test of Competence (ITC) and is a theory-based two-day exam, testing the technical knowledge you have gained throughout your university studies.

So, you are probably thinking that this just sounds like a lot of studying and no practical experience. You haven’t even got out onto the field yet to play the game that you so wish to play. But don’t worry - there is lots of practice that goes into qualifying as a young CA(SA) and now comes the time when you get some time on the field.

You need to apply for a SAICA training contract at a SAICA-accredited training office. The training contract is a minimum of three years in duration and during this period you will be required to display various technical and professional skills and ethical values. You get the chance to practice all you have learnt in theory and need to show that you can perform and apply the rules to various clients and technical scenarios under the guidance of the supervisors and managers (your coaches) in the training office. The training office will expose you to a range of technical work to assist in developing and nurturing you into a competent young professional entering the workforce after the three-year period. Different training offices offer different training programs (some in auditing, some in finance, some in taxation, etc), so you would need to apply for a training contract at the right training office that fits your career plan. You wouldn’t train with a soccer coach if you want to play rugby, right?

The last step is the second qualifying exam, referred to as the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) which is written after:

  • Passing the first SAICA board exam (ITC);
  • Completing 20 months of the 36-month training contract; and
  • Completing a professional program which is designed to further assist you to develop the skills a young CA(SA) needs.

This is the qualifying round. You have learnt about the game, you have practiced and practiced, and now it is time for the “try-outs”/auditions for the team. This final exam tests your ability to apply yourself in technical, professional and ethical scenarios.

Successful completion of all the above will end in you being eligible to register with SAICA and becoming a member of the CA(SA) team and play in the big leagues.

If you have completed CTA and would like RSM South Africa to train and coach you to be a CA(SA) team member in the auditing environment, please apply for a training contract here.

Kim Venter

Senior Manager: Audit Technical Training, Johannesburg

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