Follow the school-leaver route and become a Chartered Accountant (CA)
The school-leaver route to becoming an ICAS Chartered Accountant (CA) enables those with good Higher/A Level results to skip university and begin paid training.
Lots of school leavers seeking an interesting and rewarding future in business and beyond choose to bypass university and come directly to ICAS to train as CAs.
You don’t need any accountancy or business knowledge to follow this route, and you’ll earn a competitive salary with your training employer whilst you learn.
All you need are strong Higher/A Level results – like those that would secure a place at university – and the ambition to begin a truly extraordinary career.
Find a CA training vacancy that's right for you:
What to expect
- takes approximately 5 years
- supported study
- earn while you learn
- detailed workplace experience
- a training vacancy that fits
Five-years’ supported study
The school-leaver route to becoming a CA usually takes five years. The qualification is rated at the same level as a master’s degree and is organised to cover everything from the essentials to advanced principles of accounting, business and ethics.
We’ll provide support throughout your studies, offering high-quality information, advice and guidance.
Paid workplace experience
To qualify as a CA, you’ll also need 750 days of relevant practical experience. You’ll gain this by working a training agreement with an ICAS-authorised employer – and earn a competitive salary whilst you learn.
A training vacancy to fit you
The range of available employers varies, from big accountancy firms and large corporations, to government offices, smaller start-ups and local companies, so you’re bound to find a training vacancy that fits.
- Highers or A Levels
- meet the employer’s requirements
- course fees covered
No previous business or accountancy knowledge is required because the ICAS course syllabus is structured to cover everything you’ll need to know.
All that’s required are strong Higher or A Level results, like those that would secure a place at university. However, entry requirements vary per employer, so you’ll need to check carefully before applying for a training agreement.
Fees paid for you
The employer you sign a training agreement with will cover the costs of the CA qualification. This will all be detailed upon commencing your CA training agreement with them.
The alternative AAT route
The AAT route allows students to go from school directly into employment, working towards professional development by becoming a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians.
Moving onto CA training from AAT, you'll need to secure a training agreement with an ICAS-authorised employer and may be eligible for exemptions. To find out more visit the AAT website.
Apply for an ICAS CA training agreement
The first step to becoming a CA is to apply for a training agreement with an ICAS-authorised employer. Entry requirements vary per employer, and we offer a range of firms to work with, from small local companies to large corporations.
Find a CA training vacancy that's right for you:
Why should I become a Chartered Accountant?
By training to become an ICAS Chartered Accountant (or CA for short), you’ll be on the fast track to unlock some of the most powerful and rewarding positions in business, accounting and industry, in the UK and internationally.
- Qualify for more than accountancy
- Wear the CA badge of prestige
- Unlock international opportunities
- Enjoy competitive salaries and job security
- Join a global business community
- Access ICAS’ unrivalled professional support
How is the ICAS CA qualification structured?
The ICAS CA is widely viewed as one of the most prestigious accounting qualifications in the world.
The advanced syllabus delivers technical expertise in accounting and finance whilst instilling wider business acumen and an overall commercial awareness. It consists of three levels:
- Test of Competence
- Test of Professional Skills
- Test of Professional Expertise and Business Ethics
Assessment is by examination (UK only) and, in addition, candidates must complete, and have validated, 450-750 days of relevant practical experience.
The qualification is credit rated at Level 11 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) and is recognised nationally and internationally as sitting at the level of a Masters degree.
Where do I apply for a CA training agreement?
Our dedicated job site Becomeaca.org.uk offers an interesting range of firms to work and train with, from small local companies to large corporations.
What are the other routes to becoming a Chartered Accountant?
There are various ways to become an ICAS Chartered Accountant (CA), with options for school leavers, graduates, professionals and apprentices:
Where can I download the ICAS 'Become a CA' brochure?
Our Become a CA brochure gives you more information on ICAS, why you should become a CA, and all the training steps required to become a CA.