4 Steps to Becoming a CA (Chartered Accountant) in Québec
- Prerequisites and Undergraduate Education in Québec
- School of Business Modules and Experience in Québec
- Uniform Evaluation in Québec
- Apply for Membership in Québec
Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec (OCAQ) is a professional order that oversees the profession of chartered accountancy in Québec. The process for becoming a chartered accountant (CA) in Québec can be broken into the following steps:
1. Meet the Educational Prerequisites
The most prevalent path to becoming a CA involves attaining an undergraduate degree, enrolling in a graduate level professional program that prepares you for the profession and uniform evaluation (UFE) exam, and attaining practical work experience with a CA training office (CATO).
OCAQ considers you a regular candidate if you have a 90 credit bachelor’s degree from these programs in Québec. You can contact OCAQ at 514.982.4606 if your degree is from an institute in Canada or Bermuda that is not listed. Information is also available for the recognized undergraduate programs or course equivalency of these institutions.
Your minimum GPA for the overall degree program should be at least equal to that required by your university to qualify for graduate level studies. This translates to a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or 3.2 on a 4.3 scale. However, these requirements, and the requirements that pertain to core/mandatory coursework vary among different universities. This webpage provides the requirements information for the universities that offer professional education program (PEP). This is an example of mandatory courses needed to qualify for advanced studies:
- Intermediate Financial Acct 1
- Intermediate Financial Acct 2
- Intermediate Mgmt Accounting 1
- Intermediate Mgmt Accounting 2
- Principles of Taxation
- Advanced Financial Accounting
- Dev of Accounting Thought
- Principles of Auditing
- Business Taxation 2
One exception to the regular student category is if you are a student in a co-operative program. The experience you gain in an approved CATO while pursuing the co-op program can count towards your experience requirement up to a maximum of 8 months if the experience was gained after completing 30 credits.
If you have a university degree from outside Canada, please consult this webpage for the requirements regarding equivalent diplomas. Typically, you would need to go for additional university studies in Québec to qualify for this category.
2. Meet the Practical Experience Requirements and PEP Registration Requirements
The preparation for becoming a CA involves both practical work experience and registering in a professional education program (PEP). A number of CA training offices (CATO) recruit students from universities as much as one year before completion of studies. You can contact the career center or CA liaison of your university to get more information about that. You can also look for an approved CATO here and contact them directly.
a. Complete the candidate for the practice of the profession (CPP) application as soon as you finish your undergraduate diploma and before you start the practical work experience. This ensures that all of your work experience would count towards the 24 month practical experience requirement (PER). This application needs to be submitted with the statement regarding first professional training from your supervising CA in the training office. These applications are also called Appendix A and Appendix B, respectively. If you also acquired relevant experience during summer employment or as part of an approved co-op program after completing 30 credits, complete the application for recognition of training (Appendix C) and send it with your CPP application to:
Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec
Vice-Presidency, Education and Recruitment
680 Sherbrooke Street West, 18th floor
Montreal, Quebec H3A 2S.
The fees to be paid to OCAQ are given here for different appendices/applications that you submit.
Practical experience provides several benefits to you as a CPP. You learn to apply and enhance the knowledge you acquired during your studies, learn to prioritize, develop critical thinking and interpersonal skills as applied to your profession. Specifically, you must develop and demonstrate three kinds of skills and competencies as a CA candidate:
1. Pervasive Qualities and Skills: All chartered accountants are required to develop these competencies:
- Ethical Behavior and Professionalism
- Personal Attributes
- Professional Skills
2. 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
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 at least 24 months
- At least 1,250 hours of the 2,500 hours should be in assurance
- At least 625 hours from the assurance hours should be in audit if you want to practice public accounting
- Minimum 100 hours from the 1,250 non-assurance hours must be in taxation
3. Specific workplace skills: These consist of professional traits and skills that you develop in the workplace. They are also assessed in the context of workplace.
If you need to work part time during practical work experience or work outside Canada for up to 6 months, contact OCAQ at email@example.com or 514 982.4606. If you work part time during this period, you would also need to fill out the details of part time professional training period and submit it to OCAQ.
b. Fill out the CA qualifying experience (RQE) form. This form needs to be filled out every six months as you gain expertise in each competency during your training period. You must keep an updated copy of your RQE during your training and for at least one year after your training period is over.
c. Submit the confirmation of the training period and practical experience report. If your practical work experience is in compliance with the requirements of OCAQ, you can use the designation of CA Auditor in Québec after its successful completion.
d. Submit the application for registration to the professional education program along with your original birth certificate or its certified true copy. PEP is a graduate level, 30 credit program offered by universities in conjunction with OCAQ. It prepares you specifically for the analytical and evaluation skills, diagnostic capabilities and other skills and attitudes tested on the Uniform Evaluation (UFE). Most full time students take about one year to finish it so your timing is important. The approved programs in Québec and relevant information can be found here.
3. Take the Uniform Evaluation (UFE)
The requirements to be eligible for UFE are:
- Registration in, and completion of, the professional education program (PEP)
- Registration as a candidate for the practice of the profession (CPP)
The UFE is set and administered by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). It is a three-day exam held every September where you demonstrate the level of skills and competencies you acquired through the PEP and CPP requirements. The first day of the exam involves a comprehensive case evaluation and the next two days consist of questions spanning multiple subjects. Results of the UFE are released in late November or early December. The relative weight of specific competencies for the 2011 UFE is as follows:
Pervasive Qualities and Skills are tested in all business simulations of the UFE.
You can see a schedule of the upcoming UFE dates to determine when you will be taking the UFE or getting results. You are required to pass the UFE before you can apply for membership in OCAQ. More information about the UFE can be found on the CICA website here and some downloadable publications can be accessed here.
4. Get membership in OCAQ
After completing the PEP, and successfully passing the UFE, you’ll complete the membership application for OCAQ here. In short, if you have an accounting designation from France or one of these accounting bodies, you are recognized in Québec and only have to fulfill a few additional requirements in order to be able to practice.
Every CA member of OCAQ needs to have a minimum proficiency in French language in order to practice in Québec. Access the details about this requirement here.
If you hold a foreign accounting designation, consult this document for information about obtaining the CA designation in Québec.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
CAs are required to complete a minimum of 120 hours of CPD every three years, of which at least 60 hours must be verifiable. The minimum annual CPD requirement is 25 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 that follows (e.g. January 1st 2009 – December 31st 2011). The CPD reporting should be done by January 31st of every year.
The provincial institutes offer CPD opportunities, 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. The recognized specializations by CICA include specialist designations for CAs as well as strategic partnerships with other professional bodies.
- 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