ACCA vs CPA – which course is right for your accounting career

Are you an aspiring accountant?

Confused as to which professional course to pursue?

Do you wish someone would create a detailed comparison between the two best accounting programs?

If you answer was three yeses, you’re in luck. We’ve taken two globally successful accounting qualifications — ACCA and CPA — and done a fair and comprehensive analysis for you. 

While accountancy is a highly respected, traditional profession in India, both of these courses add a modern edge to the industry. They offer a high calibre of training, an intensive syllabus and real-world skills that help you kickstart your career. They also help to open up a world of new opportunities and boost your earning potential quite significantly. 

While the ACCA and CPA have some similarities, they also have a few differences. One of them may be perfect for you, but which one? Let’s find out. 

What is ACCA?

ACCA or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants is a world-leading organization of accounting professionals. The qualification is well acknowledged in almost all countries of the world, and considered as their local qualification.

ACCA is the best way to let employers know that you have the ability to manage all aspects of business aspects. It also happens to be one of the fastest-growing accounting careers in the world with over 500,000 students in around 180 countries.

Want to read more about ACCA? Click here

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the world’s largest accounting body offers the “Certified Public Accountant” qualification in the United States. 

US CPA is one of the most sought-after qualifications which is globally recognized, well reputed and has over 650,000 actively licensed members as per NASBA and over 430,000 members of the AICPA.

Having a global reach and continuously updated/ Industry relevant content, US CPA is a great way to build a career in accounting and finance. The flexible examination scheme with multiple examination windows and the continuous testing model started by NASBA in India since 2020 makes this qualification even more attractive.


Parameters  ACCA CPA
Organizing Body The exams are organized by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), UK. The exams are organized by the   American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), USA.
Pattern  The course is divided into 3 levels consisting of 13 papers in total.The 3 levels are:
Knowledge levelSkill levelProfessional level
It is a single level course containing of 4 sections/exams which are :Auditing and attestationFinancial accounting and reporting Regulation Business environment and concepts
Duration  Although the course has to be completed within 10 years of passing the first exam, candidates usually take 2-3 years to complete the same  Although the course has to be completed within 18 months of passing the first exam, candidates usually take 9-12 months to complete the same
Exam pattern Computer-based exams which are divided into MCQs and Simulation-based exams.The duration of the exams are 2-3 hours based on the subject. Computer-based exams which are divided into MCQs, Simulation-based tasks and Written tasks. Duration of each exam is 4 hours.
Eligibility  10+2 A graduate degree is required with a minimum of 120/150 credits.
Fee (Training + exams) 2-3 Lakhs  3-4 Lakhs
Pass % 30-40% 45-50%
Exemptions  Maximum exemption of 9 papers based on the eligibility. No exemptions are provided to candidates with any other qualification.
Work experience requirement  Professional experience requirement includes 3 years of experience in any finance-related field, before, during or after the ACCA course. Professional experience is required to obtain licensure.The number of years varies between 1 and 2 depending on the state.
Salaries in India  Fresher: 5-6 lakhs p.a Fresher: 6-7 lakhs p.a
Job prospects in India  Highly preferred in core accounting roles, forensic accounting, business valuation and treasury management.Mostly preferred in MNCs. Highly preferred in core accounting roles, forensic accounting, business valuation and treasury management.Mostly preferred in MNCs.

5 benefits of becoming an ACCA-certified accountant 

Once you complete your education and work requirements, you are on track to join the accounting community. With your certification, you receive a slight edge over your peers. There are more lucrative opportunities for you, increased possibilities to further your career and better connections within the industry. Here below are some of the amazing reasons why being an ACCA holder pays off. 

1. You receive incredible membership advantages 

As an ACCA member, you get access to one of the most exclusive communities in the accounting field. You receive support every step of your career. The official website offers many opportunities for its members. Several major companies prefer ACCA-certified candidates and post job openings directly on the ACCA careers board. So you hear about new job vacancies first before your competition. Your membership enables you to build a tight professional network as you can connect with over 500,000 members across the world. You can also join the thriving ACCA groups on social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Furthermore, the ACCA website offers the latest industry information whether it is news, standard updates or recent developments. You are often invited to participate in creating or shaping new policies and standards for accountancy. So you are always one step ahead in your career.

2. Your certificate enjoys global recognition 

On the last count, the ACCA course is available in over 181 countries, including Australia, Singapore, the UK, China and many members of the European Union. The ACCA is widely considered the benchmark in accounting across the world. It adds value and prominence to your resume and makes you a strong contender in the industry. Companies are well aware of the worth of an ACCA accountant. 

3. Your resume is preferred by the Big 4 and MNCs in India 

It is every accountant’s dream to work for the big 4 – Deloitte, E&Y, PWC and KPMG. With the ACCA credential, you are one step closer to fulfilling your wish. These firms require professionals who are trained in global standards and regulatory practices. They want skilled and knowledgeable employees who don’t need much on-the-job training. ACCA candidates fulfil all these requirements and are often the first choice during recruitment. Many multinational companies also hire ACCA holders for similar reasons.

4. You get more immigration opportunities 

If you are planning to migrate, your ACCA certification could be your ticket to a global career. As mentioned above, ACCA has a presence in over 180 nations. This means you could work for a number of companies in any of these countries. You don’t have to train for another accountancy course when you apply to the country of your choice. Your current certification is enough to deem you hireable. 

5. There is immense scope for career advancement 

The ACCA prepares you for a wide range of roles and responsibilities within the financial sector. You are qualified to work for several different organisations, and your training enables you to climb up the corporate ladder quicker. Your education ensures you can handle challenges within a fast-paced work environment. While your strong people skills help you to effectively communicate and network within the industry. Once you have gained a little experience, you will find yourself ready to take on senior, strategic roles or leadership positions in the organisation. All of these factors, along with a few others, will be instrumental in ensuring you have a long, successful career ahead. 

The ACCA course details 

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is one of the foremost accountancy organisations worldwide, with over 500,000 students in around 180 countries. The ACCA course offers a well-thought-out and carefully designed curriculum that ensures every passing student goes on to become a proficient accountant in the real world. The details for the course are as follows:

  • Eligible for students who have completed their 12th year or graduation in a relevant field like commerce or finance 
  • 12th-year students must have acquired at least 65 per cent in English and maths, and 50 per cent in other subjects
  • Working professionals or students who have completed courses like CA, MBA, CIMA, etc can also apply 
  • There are 3 modules and 13 exams spread across them
  • Students who have a specific professional certification or degree are exempt from certain exams
  • You need 36 months of experience as a work requirement. You can include time spent in a relevant job before doing the course
  • The first four exams are computer-based
  • They can be given on demand at any time of the year 
  • The rest of the test will take place in four sessions during the year
  • You can sit for up to four papers in one sitting 

Job profiles for ACCA-certified professionals 

As a certificate holder, you are eligible for a wide range of positions across the financial and accounting industry. You can get a job in various departments such as fund management, taxation, consulting, etc. You could also move on to setting up your own practice eventually. 

Entry-level jobs: 

  • Financial analyst
  • Tax accountant 
  • Internal auditor 

Mid-level jobs: 

  • Financial controller
  • Forensic accountant 
  • Risk manager 
  • Business advisor 
  • Management accountant 
  • Credit-control manager 

Upper-level jobs:

  • Treasurer 
  • Group accountant 
  • Compliance officer 
  • Chief financial officer 
  • Consultant

Why students prefer the ACCA course at IMS Proschool 

What happens when a globally renowned certification joins forces with a nationally reputed coaching institution? You get the GPA program, a unique course designed by the experts at Proschool. This brand of education goes above and beyond the standard style of teaching ACCA. The Global professional accountant certification offers the whole package, including theoretical accounting concepts, real-world expertise and highly developed personal skills. It uses well-rounded, advanced learning methodologies to deliver a high standard of learning. IMS Proschool is committed to raising the bar of excellence in financial education. They are paving the way to creating a generation of distinctive professionals who are future-ready accountants.

What makes this program so remarkable? 

Here are some of the highlights of the GPA program:

  • You get the full ACCA curriculum of 13 subjects across three modules 
  • You can choose between the undergraduate and graduate variants 
    • GPA and GPA comprehensive for college students
    • GPA gateway and GPA professionals for degree holders 
  • The professors are highly trained professionals who have worked in the industry 
  • They also serve as mentors, offering personal guidance when needed
  • Proschool offers 100 percent placement assistance 
  • There is a dedicated placement team to groom the students to better their resume and interview-related skills
  • You also learn industry-relevant skills like financial modeling
  • Study resources include access to mock exams and hard copy Kaplan study guides 
  • You receive a Proschool GPA as well as an NSDC certification
  • The intensive training helps you increase your chances of clearing the exams on the first attempt