The CA qualification and qualification structure

CA qualification structure and overview of classes

Training to become a Chartered Accountant (CA)

There's never been a better time to train to become a CA. The services of a CA are always in demand and you can look forward to an interesting and varied career.

Steps to becoming a CA

One Confirm you meet ICAS entry requirements
Two Enter into a training contract with an ICAS authorised employer or a sponsor agreement
ThreeGain relevant practical experience to achieve key competencies
FourStudy and pass three stages of exams
FiveComplete a course in Business Ethics
CA Congratulations, you are now eligible to apply for membership to ICAS and become a CA. Once you've been admitted to membership, you can use those all-important letters 'CA' after your name

The CA qualification

The CA qualification is exceptional. It’s a prestigious and internationally respected qualification that will provide you with the knowledge, skills and values to be highly regarded and sought-after business professional.

The CA qualification is comprised of 3 levels, with relevant, practical experience and business ethics gained throughout.

The CA Qualification

Test of Competence

In this first level, we'll teach you the basics and technical skills in the following subjects:

  • Business Law
  • Business Management
  • Finance
  • Financial Accounting
  • Principles of Auditing and Reporting
  • Principles of Tax

Exemptions are available from some or all of the five out of six papers of the Test of Competence.

Test of Professional Skills

The second level is about applying your technical knowledge, communication skills and working with your clients.

We'll teach you how to respond to specific client needs, how to prioritise issues and communicate effective solutions in a concise and professional manner. The TPS subjects are:

  • Advanced Finance
  • Assurance and Business Systems
  • Financial Reporting
  • Taxation

Test of Professional Expertise

Combining your knowledge and skills from the previous levels, you will work on a multi-disciplinary case study, providing business advice to people in real life situations. By this point you will have gained the confidence and expertise to exercise your own professional judgement.

Business Ethics

In addition to including ethics within the three levels, Business Ethics forms a stand-alone subject and assessment.

Relevant practical experience

As well as sitting and passing exams, gaining relevant practical work experience is an important part of training to become a CA. There are two different routes available to gain this work experience; working with an ICAS Authorised Office (ATO) or through the Professional Entry route.

To qualify as a CA, you must obtain a minimum of 450 days relevant practical experience. This excludes time spent at classes, in-house training, study leave, and represents purely practical work experience. You must additionally complete an Achievement Log to record achieved competencies

You can out more about the CA qualification structure, classes and learning outcomes in the CA qualification course syllabus

Find a CA training vacancy that fits your career aspirations

You can study the CA qualification by securing a training contract with any of our partner employers across the UK. From the Big 4 accountancy firms to public practices and opportunities across wider industries and sectors, there’s a CA training vacancy to fit your career aspirations.

Our dedicated Become a CA website advertises the latest training contract opportunities. You’ll find opportunities to train in public practice with top accountancy firms, or you might choose to work in the public sector, with a multinational or a smaller start up business.

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Training to be a CA

Still unsure what type of firm you'd like to train with? Find out more about the different routes you can take below.

  • Training with an accountancy firm

Many CA students will train in public practice, and the first three years you spend working will be devoted to achieving your qualification. You'll be given plenty of responsibility from the outset – supervising junior staff, working with clients and involved in many interesting and challenging projects. This all helps your development as a successful business professional.

  • Training in industry and commerce

Our TOPP (Training Outside Public Practice) scheme is designed specifically to meet the needs of industry and commerce. We train students to the same high standards and follow the same syllabus as those training within accountancy firms. Rather than waiting to employ newly qualified CAs from audit firms, many industry employers now choose ICAS to train CAs directly to meet their specific needs from the outset.

  • Training in the public sector

Government and public sector organisations face challenging financial times. As a result, there is a steady demand for Chartered Accountants to help ensure they are managed effectively and efficiently, and this is reflected in a range of opportunities for students to train within the public sector.

  • Training in the Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are widely recognised as a key financial services centre and place where demand will always exist for well-trained Chartered Accountants. All CA students are taught face-to-face in Jersey by ICAS lecturers, who are themselves qualified CAs. And due to the intensive nature of the course students can be technically qualified within 12 months, quicker than any other professional accountancy body on the island. In addition we are the only accountancy body on the island to design, examine and deliver our qualification from start to finish.

  • Training locations

Depending on where your employer is based or where you are working at the time, you will attend classes in one of the following locations: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds,or Reading. We also offer training opportunities in the Channel Islands.

Find out more about becoming an ICAS Chartered Accountant (CA) by visiting our dedicated website


  • Become a Chartered Accountant

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