4 Steps to Becoming a CA (Chartered Accountant) in Western Canada
- Prerequisites and Undergraduate Education in the Western Provinces
- School of Business Modules and Experience in the Western Provinces
- Uniform Evaluation in the Western Provinces
- Apply for Membership in the Western Provinces
For prospective Chartered Accountants (CAs) in Western Canada which covers the provinces of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, NW Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, the Canada School of Business (CASB) provides the pre-certification education. This is competency based graduate level education that consists of classroom based education, practical work experience and development of competencies. The competencies are tested through the Uniform Evaluation Exam.
1. Satisfy the Educational Prerequisites
You get started by meeting the education requirements for registration with CASB. Registration with CASB is a five step process with meeting the education and prerequisite requirements being the first step. Most students get admitted into CASB CA program through the Degree admission category, for which the requirements are:
- A four-year, 120-credit Canadian undergraduate degree, or a foreign degree that has been assessed as equivalent by International Credential Evaluation Service or International Qualifications Assessment Service.
- A 65% overall average (equivalent to 2.5 GPA) in the CASB prerequisite courses. These 12 prerequisites include:
- General Business (3 prerequisites)
- Assurance (1 prerequisite)
- Finance (1 introductory and 1 intermediate prerequisite)
- Information Systems and Technology (1 prerequisite)
- Performance Measurement (2 intermediate financial accounting, 1 intermediate managerial/cost accounting, and 1 of either one of the following
- accounting theory
- advanced financial accounting
- advanced financial statement analysis
- advanced managerial/cost accounting; or
- international accounting
- Taxation (1 prerequisite covering both personal and corporate taxation)
Please note that the prerequisites listed here do not represent college credits, but rather are defined by CASB for different universities and programs. As an example, the University of British Columbia offers courses that satisfy all 12 prerequisites. The list of preapproved institutions can be accessed here. If your institution is not on the preapproved list, you should contact CASB (firstname.lastname@example.org) to have your courses evaluated. All courses must have been taken within the last 10 years, and taxation course must have been taken within last 5 years.
If you register with CASB under this category, you would need to complete 30 months of practical work experience with an approved CA office.
Other categories that you can use to register with CASB are:
Co-op Student Programs
In approved co-op degree programs, you must follow a schedule of work and study terms approved by your university, CASB, and your employer. Approved co-op programs are offered in:
- University of Alberta
- University of British Columbia
- University of British Columbia Okanagan
- University of Calgary
- University of Manitoba
- University of Regina
- Simon Fraser University
Practical experience gained on co-op terms with an approved CA Training Office count towards the three-year practical experience requirement, provided you are registered with CASB and have completed a minimum of 45 credit hours.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA)/Certified General Accountant (CGA) Designations
CMAs and CGAs in good standing are exempt from the CASB degree and prerequisite requirements. There might be further exemptions available based on the years of experience. Contact email@example.com for questions regarding the exemptions.
Mature Student Category
You may be eligible to register with CASB as a mature student if you have:
- Five years of relevant business experience, or a combination of business experience (minimum 2 years) and full-time post-secondary education
- Attained a score of 550 or higher in GMAT
- Completed the 12 prerequisite courses mentioned above.
Under this category, you must submit two letters of reference and a comprehensive resume outlining your work experience.
You may choose the Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc) program from the University of Saskatchewan, or the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program from the University of Waterloo in addition to the four year degree program. If you complete the MPAcc or MAcc programs, you enter the CASB program at Module 6, which is the last module. You are also required to complete 36 months of work experience (instead of 30 months) at an approved CA Training Office.
In order to register with CASB, you must live in Canada and be a Canadian citizen or have a Canadian work permit (or a study permit that allows you to work in Canada).
If you earned your degree outside Canada, you must have your education credentials assessed by an external agency. The approved agencies are International Credential Evaluation Service and International Qualifications Assessment Service.
2. Meet the Experience and CASB Registration Requirements
After completing the prerequisite education requirements, you must meet the experience requirements as outlined below.
a. Secure employment with an approved CA training office (CATO). Since the CASB program follows a competency-based model emphasizing application of knowledge, a mandatory requirement of becoming registered with CASB is completion of 30 months of training in a CA office/firm that is approved to provide training to prospective CA students. You can search for an approved CATO here. This list is updated monthly.
You must develop and demonstrate two kinds of competencies as a CA student:
- 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
If you, in mutual agreement with your CATO, choose to develop depth in Performance Measurement and Reporting (PM&R) or 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
- At least 625 hours from the assurance hours should be in audit if you want an audit certification
- Minimum 100 hours must be in taxation
b. Complete the record of CA qualifying experience (RQE) form form. There are additional options offered by chartered accountant institutes of individual provinces which are given in Provincial requirements section towards the end.
c. Request a transcript assessment from CASB. This assessment is mandatory if you are using the Mature Student or Foreign Education categories. It is optional if you are using any other category for registration. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the assessment process.
d. Prepare your student registration application. The checklist for completing the registration application for new students can be accessed here. If the CA training office is registering more than one student for the CASB program, it must submit a Remittance Advice form. Have your educational institution send the official transcripts directly to CASB at the address given below. The fee for initial registration is $350 and new student dues are either $880 or $440 depending on the time of year you register.
e. Submit your application. You can either email completed registration and Remittance Advice forms with credit card payment to email@example.com or mail them to:
Canada School of Business
301, 1253 – 91 Street SW,
Edmonton, AB, T6X 1E9
Please note that registration with CASB does not automatically register you in a module. See program requirements below for information about the program modules.
f. Complete CASB Module Requirements
CASB follows a competency based model for CA pre-certification education. This means that you need to not only learn the subject areas, but also learn the application of knowledge acquired in the business world. The work experience requirement also exposes you to the daily practice and ethics of the CA profession. You participate in the modules simultaneously with your employment in the CA training office (CATO).
The CASB program is divided in six modules and the modules are offered in four sessions during a year – spring, summer, fall and winter. Module 4 is only offered in winter session and Module 6 is only offered in summer session. The enrollment deadlines for modules can be found here. You can begin Module 1 without an employment offer from a CA Training Office (CATO) and Module 2 with a written employment offer. However, for registration in Module 3, you should have already started your employment training.
Modules 1 – 5 are each 8 weeks long. They are delivered online, and you complete weekly tasks as well as participate in chats and discussion boards. The modules are managed and moderated by CAs, who act as facilitators. These modules are structured as a single case study about an owner-managed company. Each week you learn a little more about the company and complete the assigned tasks as if you were a CA involved with the company, for example as the controller or a public practice auditor.
During one three-day weekend for each module, you are required to attend a three-day face-to-face session. You engage in discussions about the concepts that you have been applying during the weekly tasks.
After the last week of each module, you complete an evaluation. The module-end evaluations assess your progress in developing the CA competencies using multiple choice and comprehensive case questions.
Module 6, which is offered in late July or early August, comprises of a two-weeks classroom session followed by a simulated (practice) Uniform Evaluation (UFE).
3. Take the Uniform Evaluation (UFE)
After obtaining the education and experience and completing the registration and module requirements of CASB, you are ready for the national Uniform Evaluation (UFE). Module 6 of CASB requirements 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 CASB program. 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.
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 chartered accountant institute of your province. More information about the UFE can be found on the CICA website and some downloadable publications can be accessed here.
4. Become a Member of the Provincial CA Institutes
Once you have completed the work experience requirements and passed the UFE, you can apply for membership as a CA in one of the provincial institutes. Although most requirements for membership are the same in all provinces, there is some variation in these requirements, as noted below.
- Saskatchewan: Complete the Record of Qualifying Experience (RQE) form before your application to Saskatchewan. The instructions for filling out the form can be found here. Then submit the Member Application form, Member Information form and Dues Information form to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Saskatchewan (ICAS).
- Alberta: Alberta offers a Senior Practitioner category for admission to the CA program. Senior practitioners have:
- Worked for 10 years in successively more senior roles in financial or business advisory positions
- Not previously registered as a student of CA School of Business or any provincial CA institute in last 10 years
- Never had a student or member registration canceled by any professional organization for a reason.
- Yukon and British Columbia: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia (ICABC) offers a Certificate Program for students interested in a career in accounting. The program consists of six academic courses and three twelve-month internship periods. Upon completion of this program, you’ll receive an Advanced Certificate in Accounting (ACIA) from the ICABC are exempt from the degree requirement. Upon completing the program with a 70% average or higher, completing required courses and obtaining a position with an approved CA Training Office, ACIA holders can enroll as CASB students.
You can fill out the admission for membership by examination application.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
CAs are required to complete a minimum 120 hours of CPD every three years, 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.
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. You can contact your provincial CA institute for details but some popular specializations include
- Investigative and Forensic Accounting
- Information Technology
- Business Valuation
- Internal Auditing
- Information Systems Auditing
- Management Consulting
- Corporate Governance
- Financial Planning
Depending on your business area of practice and interest, you may specialize in one or more of these or other available specializations.