Difference Between CA and CPA

Wonder if we never had known an area of accounts with reference to finance, how would over economy be like? Finances are needed to survive. Accounts are needed to be maintained in order to understand cash flow.

Chartered accountants (CA) and certified public accountant (CPA) are two prominent degrees relevant and needed to get into the field of finances. The key difference between CA and CPA is that CA is a qualification whereas CPA is a diploma examination.

Chartered Accountants have been in the financial domain industries for decades. Times have changed, the learning mechanism has changed, but the mannerism of accountancy still is the same with a little tweak in the certification.


The main difference between CA and CPA is that the degree of Chartered accountants is recognized all over the world with special relevance in the UK and Middle Eastern countries while the certified public accountant is mandatory to get a job in the united state of America.



Comparison Table Between CA and CPA (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonChartered AccountantCertified Public Accountant
Pre-examCommon Proficiency Test (CPT)None
Eligibility+12th ( 10th +2)Varied depending on the prior qualification
DurationFour YearsOne year
SemestersThree leveled examinationFour exams
FeesLowHigher than CA
Certification providerInstitute of Chartered Accountants of IndiaAmerican Institute of Certified Public Accountants


What is CA?

A chartered accountant is a degree course affiliated and recognized by the institution of chartered accountants of India. It is a tough course to crack.

CA qualification is mandatory if one intends to work as a financial advisory or be engaged in auditing work and legal taxation consultancy. CA qualification is recognized all over the world accept the USA.

The level of examinations is leveled and need the complete dedication of time as preparation mechanism.  The syllabus and other mandates for overall preparation for CA course can be read here


What is CPA?

The Certified Public Accountant is a one year course that is a professional accountancy course that can be done post completing a grad or a post-graduation course. Better is if done with a field related to accounts.

This guideline will be a very useful tool to understand the preparations to complete the CPA course. CPA cannot be referred to as a degree rather it can be called a title. CPA is needed to be availed to work in the USA even though if you are a qualified CA with a past record of work experiences.

CPA as understood is needed certification to work in the domain of finances, accounts but it is equally important in the field of businesses and consulting services.

Main Differences Between CA and CPA

Duration and Semesters

CA qualification is a degree course spread across four academic years wherein the learner first has to pass the Common Proficiency Test (CPT) after which they appear for the 2nd level of the course.

The 2nd level of CA is Intermediate Professional Competence Course (IPCC). The IPCC is further into two groups.  Clearing the two groups of exams nearly takes 3-4 years.

CPA has four levels of examination namely; Auditing & Attestation, Business Environment & Concepts, Financial Accounting & Reporting and Regulation that need to be completed in year duration.

It is perfectly fine to call these four levels as semesters if one intends too.

Fees and Eligibility

The fees vary for both CA and CPA but CPA Is comparatively higher.   Both the fees can run into a few thousand in USD. But one must keep in mind the duration of both the courses.

CA is a degree course while CPA is a certification or a diploma. CPA adds a weightage and prominence in the USA market if done after a degree.

Even one is a qualified CA; they still will have to get the CPA qualification to work in the USA.

Anyone who has completed plus 12th with an understanding of commerce is eligible to apply for CA the course provided they have passed the common proficiency test while CFA can be done post a degree or a post-graduation course.

Pre-exam and Certification provider

Institute of Chartered Accountants of India is the certification provider for chartered accountant course and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is the certification provider for CFA students.

With regards to CA preparation, appearing for an entrance test becomes important after 10 + 2 qualifications as the students have just passed out from college.

Also; getting a fair sense of their academic strength and weaknesses is important. CA qualification is the toughest to crack as the pass percentage is very low.

CPA at the other end doesn’t have any prerequisites of examination and can be completed within a year.

Also, there are no books or student material given to CPA students.  CA students need extensive study material to dive into.



CA qualification has always been associated with accounts and auditing of any organization’s financial affairs. But these days CPA accreditations help in better market penetration as CPA helps in understanding current trends, market needs, laws, policies international policies better.

Also, CPA quailed people are in a better state to make decisions with regard to effective investments with regards to financial undertakings and investment banking. It’s not wise to come to a conclusion on which is better as both CA and CPA are equally relevant.

The only difference is the governing principles, standards, laws, and international policies differ.  Both CA and CPA have well-accepted accreditations, market penetration. CA qualification is more for the Indian zone, hence opting out of CPA is better in terms of job availabilities and also the pass out rate.

Passing CA is a tough game. Nonetheless, choose wisely; and remember, education never gets wasted. CA and CPA, both are equally relevant.



  1. https://www.apnaahangout.com/chartered-accountancy-course/
  2. https://www.shiksha.com/accounting-commerce/chartered-accountancy-chp
  3. https://investinganswers.com/dictionary/c/certified-public-accountant-cpa
  4. https://www.internationalstudent.com/study-accounting/cpa-in-the-usa/
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