Graduate entry route to becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA)
Lots of our students come straight to us to become CAs when they finish university. It doesn’t matter what degree you’ve studied, as we don’t require you to have any previous experience in accountancy or business. Our students come from varied and diverse backgrounds. All you need is a good university degree that meets our entry requirements.
We welcome international students too – just check that your degree classification meets our UK requirements. More information for international students can be found here.
What to expect
The graduate route to becoming a CA usually takes three years and is organised in the form of a training contract with an ICAS authorised employer (known as an ATO or Authorised Training Office). Entry requirements for training vacancies with ICAS Authorised Employers vary so it's worth checking with our individual employers.
Graduating with an ICAS accredited degree
An ICAS accredited degree is a degree in accountancy from a university which has been accredited by ICAS as contributing towards the CA qualification. If you are studying towards an ICAS accredited degree you could be eligible for up to five exemptions from the first level of the CA qualification – Test of Competence (TC) classes and examinations.
For information on ICAS accredited degrees and exemptions, please visit the exemptions section of the website.
Graduating with a non-accountancy degree
The majority of current CA students have non-accountancy related degrees, meaning they will begin their CA training at Test of Competence (TC) and are not eligible for any exemptions. TC provides CA students with basic concepts, knowledge and skills in core areas, giving you the building blocks you need to successfully complete the next two levels of the CA.
Applying for a CA training contract
To become a CA, you start by applying for a three-year training contract with an organisation that ICAS has authorised to train CA students. You'll find an exciting and diverse range of firms to work with-from public practice to business and industry on our website becomeaca.icas.com.
Discover an extraordinary CA career today
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who is ICAS?
ICAS is the first professional body for accountants and was created by Royal Charter in 1854. We are an educator, examiner, regulator and thought leader. Our members have all achieved the internationally recognised CA qualification.
ICAS has over 21,000 students and members worldwide who work in a variety of areas such as industry, public practice and the financial sector and in more than 100 countries around the world.
We represent our members on a wide range of issues in accountancy, finance and business and seek to influence policy in Europe and the UK, always acting in the public interest.
What is the CA qualification?
The CA qualification comprises of exams and work experience which is recorded by students in their Achievement Log. The Achievement Log is competency-based and self-assessed, with ICAS reviewing the Achievement Log during and on completion of the training contract.
To study for the CA qualification, you must meet ICAS' entry requirements and enter into a training contract with an ICAS authorised employer for the prescribed period of normally three years.
Find out more information about the CA qualification and the qualification structure.
How is the qualification structured?
The CA qualification is broken down into the following levels:
Test of Competence: teaches you the basic and technical skills in selected business and accounting subjects.
Test of Professional Skills: this is about applying your technical knowledge, communication skills and working with your clients.
Test of Professional Expertise: combining your knowledge and skills from the previous levels, you will work on a multi-disciplinary case study.
Business Ethics: in addition to including ethics within the three levels, Business Ethics forms a stand-alone subject and assessment.
Work Experience: to qualify as a CA, students must complete a minimum of 450 days' relevant work experience.
Find out more information about the CA qualification structure.
How do I apply for the CA qualification?
To become a CA, you start by applying for a training contract with an employer ICAS has authorised to train CA students. Opportunities range from public practice to industry and from multinationals to smaller companies. There are also opportunities to train as a CA within the public sector.
Our online recruitment website BecomeaCA.org.uk advertises the latest CA training vacancies with ICAS authorised employers throughout the UK. This site enables you to apply directly for CA training contracts.
What are the entry requirements?
To train to become a CA you need to hold a good degree in any subject or overseas equivalent. Entry requirements for training vacancies with ICAS authorised employers vary so it's worth checking with individual employers.
What exemptions are available?
Exemptions are available from some or all of the Test of Competence (TC) subjects. There are generally no exemptions available for TPS, TPE and Business Ethics.
CA students with both ICAS accredited degrees and non-ICAS accredited degrees may be eligible for exemptions from TC classes and examinations.
Full AAT members may also be exempt from certain TC courses and examinations, provided the relevant AAT papers are selected and passed.
Please note that not all employers allow their CA students to take up the exemptions they may be eligible for. CA students should check the exemption policy with their employer before applying to ICAS for exemptions.
Where can I study the CA qualification?
Depending on where your employer is based, you will attend classes in one of the following locations: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Nottingham or Reading. We also offer classes in the Channel Islands.
What is an ICAS authorised training office (ATO)?
An ATO is an employer that ICAS has authorised to train CA students. We have an exciting and diverse range of ICAS employers within the UK and in the Channel islands. Opportunities range from public practice to industry and from multinationals to smaller companies. There are also opportunities to train as a CA in the public sector.
Our online recruitment website BecomeaCA.org.uk advertises the latest CA training vacancies with ICAS authorised employers .This site enables you to apply directly for CA training contracts.
How long does it take to qualify as a CA?
It generally takes up to three years to qualify as a CA, with the training involving a combination of work experience and exams.
Can I become a CA even if I am an international student?
Employers authorised by ICAS welcome applications from international students. As long as you possess the minimum entry requirements (a recognised degree of UK equivalent) and can meet the necessary three year work/study commitment, then you can apply.
For detailed information please visit our international student page.
Can I become a CA without having a training contract with an ATO?
If you do not manage to obtain a training contract with an ATO, the other route to become a CA is through our Professional Entry Route. This route is designed for graduates who wish to pursue a career in accountancy or finance, or individuals with five years' experience in a financial role.
Find out more about the Professional Entry Route.