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How to become a chartered accountant

To qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant you must complete the ACA, a highly-respected professional qualification that requires students to complete at least three years on-the-job training while passing a series of exams. You can start your training by completing ICAEW's Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB), which is made up of the first six modules of the ACA, before going on to complete the rest of the qualification.

Find your route

What is the ACA qualification?

The ACA qualification is valued by businesses worldwide, with more than 5,000 employers currently training ACA students.

Completing the ACA qualification enables you to use the title ‘ICAEW Chartered Accountant’, offering a way to stand out from the crowd by providing employers with a specified, certified skillset.

The knowledge and skills provided by the ACA means that ICAEW Chartered Accountants are highly sought after professionals.

They often command higher salaries throughout their careers:

  • The average annual salary of an ICAEW Chartered Accountant in business is £134,000 (Indicative based on mean averages of specified salary bands - Member profiles response 2018). 
  • The average global member salary across all sectors is £108,000 (Indicative based on mean averages of specified salary bands - Member profiles response 2018).

How is the ACA qualification structured?

The ACA qualification is made up of four elements which provide students with a combination of finance knowledge, accountancy skills and real-world business experience.

They are:

  1. 450 days of practical work experience – offering invaluable insights into the realities of a career in chartered accountancy.
  2. 15 exam modules* – covering a broad range of topics including: financial management, law, assurance and business strategy.
  3. Professional development – preparing you to successfully handle different situations that you’ll encounter throughout your career.
  4. Ethics and professional scepticism – providing you with the skills to work under close scrutiny and be confident you are making the right decisions.
Infographic showing the elements of the ACA - knowledge, skills and experience

How to complete the ACA qualification

The ACA qualification takes between three and five years to complete and involves a number of key phases:


The support you will receive

As part of your training, you will undertake classes with an ICAEW-authorised training provider. These can be face-to-face or online, and will give you the benefit of an expert tutor.

Alongside this, your employer will provide you with a mentor to help you through the ACA and you will receive support from your colleagues.

ICAEW will also provide you with a range of tools and resources to help you, including:

  • wellbeing support from CABA charity;
  • events and volunteering opportunities;
  • Access to the Student Insights hub
  • student rewards and TOTUM PRO Card access;
  • cloud accounting courses from Xero; 
  • subscription to Communities and Faculties Online; and
  • an ACA planner to keep on track, ICAEW app and a dedicated student support team.

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