4 Steps to Becoming a CA (Chartered Accountant) in Ontario
- Prerequisites and Undergraduate Education in Ontario
- School of Business Modules and Experience in Ontario
- Uniform Evaluation in Ontario
- Apply for Membership in Ontario
Institute of Chartered Accounts of Ontario (the ICAO) delivers the graduate level, pre-certification education to CA aspirants from Ontario. This professional program (PP) consists of Core-Knowledge Exam (CKE) and the School of Accountancy (SAO). As a CA student, the steps that you need to take to enroll in the program are:
1. Satisfy the Educational Prerequisites
Most students of CA programs comply with the requirement of a recognized 120-hour, four-year Canadian university degree. However, there are other classifications available as well. If you don’t have this bachelor’s degree and identify with one of the following classifications, please contact the ICAO at 1-800-387-0735 to learn about the education requirements as they specifically relate to your situation. The categories for registration with the ICAO are:
- University graduate: You need to submit official transcripts showing all courses taken. The transcripts should be from the institute where you took the courses. If your education was at an institute outside of Canada, you need to submit course descriptions and syllabus for each course for approval. You should have a minimum of 51 credit hours and a grade of B- or its equivalent in the following:
There are some university programs that are accredited by the ICAO. If you have a degree in the programs and universities listed here , the 51 hour requirement is automatically fulfilled. However, the ICAO would review any deviation from the accredited program, as well as degrees from other institutes.
- ICAO approved co-operative student program student: If your co-op program is not from Wilfrid Laurier, Brock, MMPA, Ottawa or Waterloo, you need to submit a letter from the university’s registrar confirming your enrollment in the program and your expected graduation date.
- Mature status: You need to be at least 25 years old and provide acceptable proof that you have, or will complete 51 credits. You also need to provide evidence of having a minimum of 3 years of business, accounting or other relevant work experience.
- Certified General Accountant (CGA)/CMA: You need to provide proof of at least 3 years of business, accounting or other work experience, show proof of good standing with your society/association and proof of completion of a four-year, 120-credit undergraduate degree. Contact the ICAO at 416-962-1841 for the exemptions that you may be qualified for.
In order to register with the ICAO, you must be a resident in Canada and have a valid work permit. You are responsible for ensuring that your supporting documentation is received by the ICAO.
2. Meet Experience and ICAO Registration Requirements
In addition to the education requirements, you need to complete the practical experience requirements (PER) in order to be registered with the ICAO. The process is as follows:
a. Secure employment with an approved CA training office (CATO). The CATOs that can provide training in audit and assurance are called traditional and the ones that provide training in services other than these two are called non-traditional CATOS. You can find the traditional CATOs listed here by different regions in Ontario. The non-traditional CATO directory can be accessed on the ICAO website. Find a comprehensive list of current CATOs here. It is advisable to send your application for registration as soon as you have a valid employment offer letter.
In the light of current economic situation, the ICAO can, at its discretion, grant exemptions from the practical experience requirements (PER) provided you have a B average in the 51 credit hours mentioned in the education section. In addition, you need to submit the following:
- A request for permission to register without employment
- A properly filled out CA student application form
- Registration fee
- Proof of completion of a four-year, 120-credit hour university degree program
Though you can register as a student without completing the PER, it still has to be completed before gaining membership in the ICAO as a Chartered Accountant. For more information, you can email the ICAO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a CA student, you must develop and demonstrate two kinds of competencies:
- Pervasive Qualities and Skills: All chartered accountants are required to develop these competencies.
- Ethical Behavior and Professionalism
- Personal Attributes
- Professional Skills
- Specific Competencies: You may choose to focus on developing depth in any competency area from the following list. Depth is defined as the ability to show proficiency and independence in all of the specific competencies of the competency area. Based on the competency area you choose for developing depth, you would also develop breadth in two other competencies. Breadth means independence and proficiency in at least half of the specific competencies of that area. One way to think of it is as choosing a college major (depth competency area), and based on your major, you need to choose two minors (breadth competency areas). The competency areas are:
- Performance Measurement and Reporting
- Governance, Strategy and Risk Management
- Management Decision-Making
The UFE competency map describes the competencies in thorough detail. If you, in mutual agreement with your CATO, choose to develop depth in Performance Measurement and Reporting (PM&R)Assurance, you can choose any competency for developing breadth. If PM&R is not your depth competency area, then it must be one of the breadth areas. Please note that you only need to develop three specific competencies for satisfying the breadth requirement for PM&R. These three specific competencies are:
- Evaluating the impact of alternative and/or new accounting standards/policies
- Reviewing, proposing or accounting for the entity’s transactions, including complex transactions
- Preparing and/or reviewing financial statements and accompanying notes
It is worth noting that the practical experience requirements for CA qualification are different from the requirements for practicing public accounting. In order to qualify for practice, you need to choose assurance as the depth area, develop specific competencies on particular types of assignments and satisfy the following chargeable hours requirements:
- Minimum 2,500 chargeable hours in 30 months
- At least 1,250 hours in the 2,500 hours should be in assurance procedures
- At least 625 hours from the assurance hours should be in financial statement audit procedures if you want an audit certification
- Minimum 100 hours must be in taxation
- 1,150 hours should be chargeable to attain greater depth in any of the above areas and other areas such as control and risk management, information technology, finance, etc.
b. The practical experience requirement (PER) helps you in developing these competencies. Fill out the Record of CA Qualifying Experience (RQE) form.
c. Prepare your student registration application. The CA student registration instructions can be helpful in preparing your application packet. Have your educational institution send the official transcripts directly to the ICAO at the address given below. Assessment of your transcripts is also available from the ICAO for a fee. Pay the required fee and provide all the documentation necessary for your application to be processed.
d. Submit your application. Contact the ICAO at email@example.com to find out about submitting electronic applications. Submit standard applications to:
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario
69 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON M4W 1B3
Please note that registration with the ICAO does not automatically register you in a module. See program requirements below for information about the program modules.
e. Complete ICAO Program Requirements
Registered students with the ICAO need to complete the ICAO program to be eligible for writing the UFE. The ICAO program consists of two parts – Core Knowledge Examination (CKE) and the School of Accountancy (SOA).
The Core Knowledge Examination (CKE): CKE is a 4 hour multiple choice exam that is offered by ICAO in January and May for the September Uniform Evaluation. The purpose of CKE is to screen the candidates that don’t have the core knowledge needed to attempt the Uniform Evaluation (UFE). CKE also provides you with an opportunity to assess your strong and weak areas so you can prepare for the UFE in a more informed manner. There are about 100 questions on the exam and you are not allowed to bring any reference material to the exam. The exam covers the competency areas as follows:
There is a CKE preparation program available that you can use to supplement your own studies. The self-study publications are available to help you prepare as well. You can register for the preparation program with your student ICAO number here. There are 3 options available in the program and each option can be purchased independently. The ‘course and materials’ option is available to students that can come to London, ON or Toronto, ON for the mini-lectures given by the facilitators. The ‘materials only’ option is available for students living in remote areas. The practice examinations are available as a separate option. The fee detail for the CKE preparation program can be accessed here.
Note: If you want to discuss special consideration in order to take the exam with a disability or a medical condition that can affect the exam, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss. If you want accommodations to take the exam, contact Christina Karat at 416-969-4296 ext. 275 at least 6 weeks before the CKE.
School of Accountancy (SOA)/UFE Preparation Program: School of Accountancy (SOA) is the main part of ICAO professional program. SOA comprises of electronic learning sessions (called Boot Camp sessions) and 5-6 months of self-study readings and assignments. The program concludes with three weeks of full time classes involving extensive case studies in June and a two-day comprehensive SOA exam concludes the program. SOA exam closely simulates the UFE; the first day of the exam involves one descriptive question and the second day presents several case-type questions spanning multiple competency areas. Only students that pass the SOA exam are considered eligible to write the UFE.
Like CKE, there is also a preparation program offered to prepare you for the SOA exam. This preparation program offered in January, which is integrated within the SOA schedule, prepares you for the SOA and UFE exams. The program is consisted of 3 independent modules – Professional Practice, Advanced Taxation and Practice Exam:
- Professional Practice emphasizes comprehensive case studies incorporating all the competency areas
- Advanced Taxation devotes two days to complex topics in the areas of personal and corporate taxation
- Practice Exam consists of one 4 hour and one 5 hour practice exams that you take at home and send to ICAO for evaluation
The SOA preparation program is also available in three options – course and materials, materials only and practice exam. You can choose your preferred method of registering into the program here.
All application forms are available for you in the Student Forms section of the ICAO website.
3. Take the Uniform Evaluation (UFE)
After completing the education, experience and SOA program requirements set by the ICAO, you are ready for the national Uniform Evaluation (UFE). Completing the School of Accountancy program requirement prepares you for the UFE. The UFE is a three day exam held every September where you demonstrate the level of skills and competencies you acquired through the ICAO program. Like SOA, the first day of the exam involves a comprehensive case evaluation and the next two days consist of multiple choice questions from all competencies. Results of the UFE are released in late November or early December.
UFE is set and administered by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). You are required to pass the UFE before you can apply for membership in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. More information about the UFE can be found on the CICA website and some downloadable publications can be accessed here.
4. Gain Membership to ICAO
When you have documentation of completing all your prescribed practical experience requirements (PER) hours, you can send the experience verification form to ICAO at:
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario
69 Bloor Street, East Toronto, ON M4W 1B3
Upon verification of your satisfactory completion of the hours, ICAO will send you the admission to membership application form. After you complete it and send it to ICAO, your membership will be automatically reviewed and your membership status will be changed from student to professional member upon successful completion of the UFE.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
CAs are required to complete a minimum 120 hours of CPD every three years (triennially), of which at least 60 hours must be verifiable. The minimum annual CPD requirement is 20 hours of CPD, with at least 10 hours out of 20 being verifiable. The CPD reporting period is from January 1st through December 31st of the second calendar year (e.g. January 1st 2009 – December 31st 2011). The CPD reporting should be done by January 31st of every year.
ICAO offers CPD opportunities to its CA members, as do a number of other organizations.
Consider specializing in one of the many available CA specializations. They create a niche for you as a CA and improve your marketability and business acumen.
- Investigative and Forensic Accounting, CA·IFA
- Information Technology, CA·IT
- Business Valuation, CA·CBV
- Internal Auditing, CA·CIA
- Information Systems Auditing, CA·CISA
- Insolvency and Restructuring, CA·CIRP
- Management Consulting
- Corporate Governance
- Financial Planning
- Family Enterprise
Depending on your area of practice and interest, you may specialize in one or more of these or other available designations/partnerships.