ICAS CA Qualification for graduates: your path to a successful accounting career
You’re in the final year of your degree. Your thoughts are turning to the future. What are your options when you finish your course?
Your accountancy degree will open the door to a range of great opportunities, but to progress in the profession, you will need a professional qualification.
Find a CA training vacancy that's right for you
What is a professional qualification?
Professional qualifications within the accountancy profession are regulated and awarded by professional bodies like ICAS. The purpose of professional qualifications is to ensure everyone employed in the industry meets the required standard of professional expertise.
Achieving a professional qualification, like the ICAS CA, shows employers that you have the fundamental technical knowledge and practical experience to succeed. You’ll also earn a competitive salary whilst you train, which increases when you become fully qualified.
The CA qualification can be considered equivalent to a fully funded postgraduate degree that allows you to earn a competitive salary while obtaining practical experience.
ICAS is the oldest professional accounting body in the world. Founded in Scotland in 1854, we are now a globally renowned professional accounting body with over 23,000 members worldwide. Students who study with ICAS and become members are eligible to use the prestigious ‘CA’ designation after their name – a designation exclusive to ICAS members in the UK.
How do I become a CA?
The first step is to get a training agreement with an ICAS authorised employer. This means there will be job and salary security from the start. These employers have demonstrated that they can meet our training standards and are committed to supporting you through the qualification.
It generally takes 3 years to qualify. The training involves a combination of work experience and exams. To be eligible for ICAS membership, you need to:
- Get a training contract with an ICAS authorised employer
- Achieve a minimum of 450 days of technical work experience
- Study and pass three stages of examinations
Where can I train?
Graduate traineeships are available across the UK. You can choose from a range of employers in either practice (accountancy firms) or industry. If you decide to work in practice, there are a number of areas to get involved in, including audit, tax, business advisory, corporate finance or tax.
Many students begin their training in audit, and after qualifying, some choose to move on to other parts of the business, or perhaps into industry. Another decision to consider, if you choose to work in practice, is the size of firm you want to apply to. Whatever path you choose, you’ll need to be prepared to balance work and studying.
What is training with ICAS like?
Our qualification is taught using a blended learning approach. The blend consists of face-to-face teaching, online live teaching, online self-directed learning, and self-study. Our tutors and course guides will ensure you know what to cover and when throughout the course. Our tutors are also on hand to answer questions or offer extra support when needed.
What about my degree?
All degrees are accepted. If you’ve studied an accounting degree however, you may be eligible for exemptions from some of the initial exams. When you register with ICAS, you’ll receive confirmation whether your degree meets the requirements and which exam exemptions you are entitled to claim.
Where could the CA qualification take me?
The CA qualification will ensure you’re prepared for the evolving role of a CA. Through your studies, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding of key areas such as tax, assurance and sustainability, all of which are underpinned by business ethics.
But the CA is more than just an accountancy qualification. You’ll also develop a wealth of business skills and expertise in management, analysis, communication and presentation. With this qualification, you could go on to work at the highest levels of accountancy, finance and business, at a charity, government body or even to start your own business.
When you become an ICAS member, we’ll be with you every step of the way. You’ll become part of our global network and community. We’ll support and enhance your professional development through our member benefits – from dedicated news services, to network events and mentoring opportunities – providing access to professional guidance and support to maintain your knowledge and progress your career.
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 out more about the CA qualification
Our Become a CA brochure provides more information on ICAS, why you should become a Chartered Accountant, and details the training steps required to begin an extraordinary career in business and beyond.