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.

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What is the ACA qualification?


How is the ACA qualification structured?


How to complete the ACA qualification


The support you will receive


01 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).


ICAEW Chartered Accountants are recognised worldwide and sit on the Boards of 78% of FTSE 100 companies. You can be one too. Let the facts speak for themselves.
Globally, their average salary plus bonus 0-2 years post qualification is £49.9k
They work for organisations of all shapes and sizes
of the world's 100 global leading brands employ ICAEW Chartered Accountants
The global average salary for ACA qualified accountant in the first two years of their career

02 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:


450 days of practical work experience – offering invaluable insights into the realities of a career in chartered accountancy.


15 exam modules* – covering a broad range of topics including: financial management, law, assurance and business strategy.


Professional development – preparing you to successfully handle different situations that you’ll encounter throughout your career.


Ethics and professional scepticism – providing you with the skills to work under close scrutiny and be confident you are making the right decisions..


Since starting my ACA training and working at EY I’ve become more aware of the various different industries/roles that the qualification can be used in and the different career paths that it opens-up.

- Drew Williams, ACA trainee, EY

03 How to complete the ACA qualification

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

Find your route

Becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant has never been more accessible. Options to complete elements of the ACA qualification include: ICAEW apprenticeships, undergraduate degrees, postgraduate qualifications, ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business and joint programmes with other professional bodies.


Finding an employer

To complete the ACA you must complete 450 days of work experience at an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE). There are c5000 ATEs offering ACA training agreements, including accountancy firms of all sizes, private businesses and public sector organisations.


Register as a student

To start the ACA qualification you must register with ICAEW as a student. The majority of students do this once they have secured a training agreement, but it is also possible to register and begin studying the ACA before you have found an employer. Learn more about the registration process.


Apply for credit for prior learning

Those who have already completed a qualification in accountancy, business or finance, might be entitled to exemptions from one or more of the ACA modules. A full list of eligible qualifications and information on how to apply for credits is available on our CPL directory.


Complete the four elements of the ACA

To successfully achieve the ACA qualification you must demonstrate that you have: completed 450 days of work experience at an ATE; passed 15 exam modules; undertaken professional development; and have advanced your ethical understanding and professional scepticism.

04 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:

  • an ACA planner;
  • webinars;
  • Vital magazine;
  • an online training file;
  • access to societies, groups and online communities;
  • helplines; and
  • the ACA student app.

The ICAEW approved tuition providers in South-East Asia

here are many ICAEW approved tuition providers located in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam to provide tuition and study support to our students.
To locate a tuition centre in a city nearest to you, click here
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High Pass Rates

Certificate Level first time pass rates (January-August 2017)


Business Technology
and Finance




Principles of Taxation




Management Information



Professional level exam pass rates (March and June 2017)

between 71% and 93%

Case Study pass rates (July 2017)

% of passes at the final exam (Case Study) – 77%

Read the stories of real-life ICAEW students and members