What Are Accountant Qualifications? (Plus Key Certifications To Consider)
Updated 1 March 2023
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Accountants are accounting professionals specialising in various aspects of business and personal finance. These professionals assess financial records and analyse data, budgets, tax records, accounting records and finance reports. If you want to consider a career in accountancy, knowing more about the accountant qualifications is essential for this role. In this article, we discuss the accountant qualifications, understand what certifications are essential for this role and explore a few advantages of entering the accountancy field.
What Are Accountant Qualifications?
The minimum qualification essential for becoming an accountant is earning a senior secondary certification or 10+2. You can pursue your 10+2 in any stream except for fine arts. Pursuing your 10+2 in commerce, finance or related subjects can help you pass the various accountant examinations you may give after completing your 10+2. Often, candidates with a diploma in accounting or related areas are eligible to become an accountant. After pursuing your 10+2, consider enrolling in various bachelor's degree programs like:
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in finance and accounting
Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) in accounting and finance or accounting and taxation
B.Com in accountancy
To increase their earning potential, many accountants pursue a Master of Commerce (M.Com) in accounting and finance, Master of Business Administration (MBA) in finance or Post Graduate Diploma (PGDM) in accounting. For candidates who wish to pursue higher studies, consider enrolling in a Master of Philosophy in accounting or PhD degree in a relevant field.
Related: What Is An Accountant? Types And Career Advice
Requirements To Become An Accountant
The qualifications of an accountant depend on the type of accountant you plan to become. Some common types of accountants are cost and management accountant, chartered accountant and public accountant. Here are the required accountant qualifications:
Cost management accountant
A cost and management accountant, or CMA, is a person who assesses a company's expenses and optimises budget plans for their employers. To become a CMA, it is essential to complete a three-level course offered by the Institute of Cost Accountant of India (ICAI). The three levels of the certification are:
CMA foundation: If you have a graduate degree in commerce, finance or any other discipline except fine arts, you can skip the CMA foundation level. If you appear for the examination after completing your 10+2, it is essential to pass the CMA foundation.
CMA Intermediate: To become eligible for this exam, candidates require passing marks in the CMA foundation exam or bachelor's degree in any field. Before applying for the CMA intermediate course, it is necessary to complete computer training and communication and soft skill (CSS) training.
CMA final: All candidates passing the CMA intermediate can apply for the CMA final. To complete the course, it is necessary to complete a practical training and industry-oriented training program (IOTP)
Related: What Is A Cost Accountant? (With Duties, Salary And Skills)
Chartered accountant (CA)
For becoming a CA, it is essential to pass all four levels of the CA exam conducted by the ICAI. Here are the four levels:
CA foundation: If you have a graduate degree, you can skip the CA foundation level. If you appear for the examination after completing your 10+2, it is essential to pass the CA foundation.
CA intermediate: Those who qualify for the CA Foundation or candidates with a bachelor's degree are eligible for the intermediate course. During the intermediate course, a candidate completes a four-week Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft skills (ICITSS).
CA final: Those who qualify for the CA intermediate appear for the CA final exam. These candidates undergo a four-week training on Advanced Information Technology and Soft skills (AICITSS).
Articleship training: Every CA undergoes a three-year articleship under a certified CA. These candidates can appear for the CA final exam after completing the articleship or serving the last six months of the articleship.
Related: What Are the Qualifications Required to Become a CA?
To become a public accountant, clear all the stages of the CA exam. You can become a public accountant by US Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. Though completing a US CPA is not mandatory, it can help a candidate work in the international market as a CPA because this certification has global recognition.
To become a forensic accountant, earn a bachelor's degree in commerce or related areas. After your bachelor's, consider pursuing a specialised accounting course offered by The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI). For pursuing this two-year course, you require a minimum of three years of experience in accountancy or related fields.
Related: Accountant Roles and Responsibilities: A Complete Guide
What Certifications Are Available For Accountants?
Here are some common certifications an accountant can pursue advancing their career and earning a higher salary:
Chartered certified accountant (ACCA) designation: The ACCA is a global certificate because it focuses on subjects like reporting, taxation, auditing, financial management, ethics and leadership.
Certified financial planner (CFP) certification: This is a global certification because it focuses on ethical financial planning practice and is ideal for candidates pursuing investment and wealth management.
Certified public accountant (CPA) certificate: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) offers the CPA certificate covering topics like auditing, financial accounting, business environment, attestation, business environment and government regulations. You can become a globally recognised public accountant with this certification.
Chartered financial analyst (CFA) certification: CFA is a global certification focusing on investment analysis and portfolio management. It is a three-level certification that can take about four years to complete.
Chartered global management accountant (CGMA) designation: The AICPA and Chartered Institute of Management Accountant (CIMA) offers a global certification that focuses on financial and management accounting topics. It has three levels and it is necessary to complete a case study examination before earning the CGMA certification.
Related: How To Write A Chartered Accountant Resume (With Template)
What Is The Average Salary Of An Accountant?
The national average salary of an accountant is ₹18,164 per month. Their salary depends primarily on their skills, qualification, experience, certification and location. For instance, the average salary of an accountant in New Delhi is ₹24,482 per month and the average salary in Ahmedabad is ₹22,541 per month. The salary of an accountant depends on whether they are a CA, CMA, management accountant or a public accountant. The national average salary of a cost accountant is ₹29,310 per month, while the national average salary of a management account is ₹28,578 per month.
Related: 36 Common CA Fresher Interview Questions With Sample Answers
What Are The Skills Of An Accountant?
Apart from extensive training and educational qualification, an accountant requires both soft and hard skills. An accountant may benefit from the following skills:
Accounting skills: Knowledge of various accounting tools and software is essential for a fulfilling career. Being proficient in Indian or commonly used accounting standards is often desirable for this role.
Financial skills: To conduct accounting audits and risk analysis, an accountant requires in-depth financial knowledge. The ability to manage cash flows, source investment money and create company-wide budgets can benefit this role.
Leadership skills: An accountant may work in many senior roles and lead a team of junior accountants and financial analysts. The ability to lead and motivate others to excel in their work is essential for becoming an accountant.
Business skills: To create strategies and conduct company-wide audits, these professionals require strong business acumen. Knowledge of basic business skills and corporate structuring can result in a successful career.
Computer skills: The ability to use accounting software, word processing tools and spreadsheet software can help you advance in your career. For spending less time on mundane accounting tasks, it is essential to be proficient in computer skills.
Organisational skills: To honour stringent deadlines and maintain accurate accounting data records, employers prefer accountants who can prioritise tasks and effectively manage their time.
Analytical skills: To identify accounting problems and recommend solutions, accountants require excellent analytical skills. The ability to research and conduct accounting risk management can help you become a successful accountant.
Communication skills: As accountants work in a team and interact with various stakeholders and this requires excellent communication skills. To effectively share information with decision-makers, employers prefer candidates with excellent written and verbal communication skills.
Trustworthiness and reliability: Since accountants have access to a company's confidential and financial information, employers want trustworthy and reliable candidates. Unless a client trusts an accounting professional, it becomes challenging to foster long-term relationships.
Attention to details: Paying attention to details can ensure accurate results. As these professionals audit critical financial information, errors in accounting work can cause business losses and consequences.
Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set: A Complete Guide
Work Environment Of An Accountant
An accountant spends most of their working in offices. They can work in private, government and corporate offices. As accounting work revolves around sensitive financial information, the work environment of an accountant is fast-paced. Many qualified accountants work independently and start their consulting businesses. Also, the job role requires less or no travel.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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