Difference Between CA and CPA

Chartered accountants (CA) and certified public accountants (CPA) are two prominent degrees relevant and needed to get into the field of finance.


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The critical 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, and the learning mechanism has changed, but the mannerism of accountancy still is the same with a little tweak in the certification.

Key Takeaways

  1. CA (Chartered Accountant) and CPA (Certified Public Accountant) are both professional designations for accountants.
  2. CAs are typically found in countries that follow the British accounting system, while CPAs are located in countries that follow the American accounting system.
  3. CAs tend to have a broader education in accounting, while CPAs often specialize in areas such as taxation or auditing.


CA stands for Chartered Accountant, a professional designation for accountants in countries such as India and Canada. CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant, a professional designation for accountants in the United States. CPAs focus more on US Taxation laws and regulations, while CAs have a broader scope of accounting and auditing.


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Comparison Table

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 levelled 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 with and recognized by the institution of chartered accountants of India. It is a challenging course to crack.

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

The examinations are levelled and need complete time dedication as a preparation mechanism.


What is CPA?

The Certified Public Accountant is a one-year 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 help me 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 if you are a qualified CA with a record of work experience.

CPA, as understood, is needed certification to work in the domain of finances and accounts, but it is equally essential in 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 takes nearly 3-4 years.

CPA has four levels of examination, namely, Auditing & Attestation, Business Environment & Concepts, Financial Accounting & Reporting, and Regulation, that must be completed within a year.

Fees and Eligibility

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

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

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

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

Pre-exam and Certification provider

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

Regarding 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 strengths and weaknesses is essential. CA qualification is the toughest to crack as the pass percentage is low.

Conversely, CPA has no examination prerequisites and can be completed within a year.

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

  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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