Chartered Accountant Requirements In South Africa

Becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA) in South Africa is a prestigious achievement that requires meeting specific educational, professional, and regulatory requirements. In this article, we will explore the key qualifications and steps needed to pursue a career as a Chartered Accountant in South Africa.

Educational Requirements

To begin the journey towards becoming a Chartered Accountant, aspiring professionals must fulfil the following educational requirements:

1. Obtain a Recognized Degree: Applicants must complete an undergraduate degree that is accredited by a recognized accounting body such as the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). Commonly pursued degrees include a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in Accounting or a Bachelor of Accounting Science (BAccSc).

2. Complete Specific Subjects: Along with the degree, candidates must complete certain core subjects, including Financial Accounting, Auditing, Taxation, Management Accounting, and Commercial Law.

3. Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA): After obtaining an undergraduate degree, individuals need to complete a PGDA, which is a one-year program designed to provide specialized accounting knowledge and skills. The PGDA is a prerequisite for entering the Chartered Accountant training program.

Chartered Accountant Training Program

The Chartered Accountant training program is an essential component of the journey towards becoming a qualified CA. It consists of the following key stages:

1. Training Contracts: Aspiring Chartered Accountants must secure a training contract with an approved training office or a firm authorized to train CAs. The training contract typically lasts for three years and provides practical experience in various aspects of accounting, auditing, and taxation.

2. Professional Examinations: While completing the training contract, candidates need to pass the SAICA’s Initial Test of Competence (ITC) examination. This exam assesses the candidates’ knowledge of various accounting-related subjects. Upon successful completion, candidates progress to the next stage.

3. Assessment of Professional Competence (APC): After passing the ITC, candidates must complete a period of supervised workplace learning, typically lasting for 18 months. During this period, candidates work under the supervision of a registered Chartered Accountant. Once the workplace learning is completed, candidates are eligible to write the APC examination.

4. Candidacy Application: Following the successful completion of the APC examination, candidates must apply for membership with SAICA and officially become registered as a Chartered Accountant.

Additional Requirements

Apart from the educational and training requirements, aspiring Chartered Accountants in South Africa must fulfil the following additional criteria:

1. Professional Ethics: Candidates must adhere to strict professional ethics and conduct guidelines set by SAICA, including the SAICA Code of Professional Conduct and the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) Code of Ethics.

2. Continuing Professional Development (CPD): Once registered as a Chartered Accountant, professionals are required to undertake ongoing CPD activities to ensure their skills and knowledge remain up-to-date. This involves participating in seminars, workshops, courses, and other relevant learning opportunities.

3. Practical Experience: Besides the training contract and supervised workplace learning, candidates must acquire a minimum of three years of practical experience in an accounting or auditing role before being fully recognized as a Chartered Accountant.

The Importance of Chartered Accountants in South Africa

Chartered Accountants play a crucial role in the economic landscape of South Africa. They are highly sought after for their expertise in financial reporting, auditing, taxation, and advisory services. Here are some key areas where Chartered Accountants make significant contributions:

Financial Reporting and Compliance

Chartered Accountants ensure that financial statements are prepared following applicable accounting standards and regulatory requirements. They play a vital role in maintaining transparency and accountability in financial reporting, which is essential for businesses, investors, and stakeholders.

Auditing and Assurance

Chartered Accountants perform independent audits to examine and evaluate financial records and statements. Through their expertise, they assure the accuracy, reliability, and compliance of financial information. Audits help instil confidence in the financial health and integrity of organizations.

Taxation and Advisory Services

Chartered Accountants possess in-depth knowledge of tax laws and regulations. They assist individuals and businesses in tax planning, compliance, and minimizing tax liabilities. Additionally, CAs provide valuable advisory services, including financial planning, risk management, and strategic decision-making support.

Chartered Accountant Designations and Specializations

Within the field of Chartered Accountancy, professionals can specialize in various areas based on their interests and career goals. Here are some common designations and specializations:

Chartered Accountant (CA[SA])

The Chartered Accountant (CA[SA]) designation is the primary qualification in South Africa. It signifies that an individual has completed the necessary education, training, and examinations required by SAICA.

Registered Auditor (RA)

Registered Auditors are Chartered Accountants who have obtained additional qualifications and registration with the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA). They have the authority to perform statutory audits and issue audit opinions.

Financial Manager (CM[SA])

Chartered Accountants who specialize in financial management can earn the designation of Chartered Marketer (CM[SA]). These professionals possess expertise in financial analysis, budgeting, forecasting, and strategic financial decision-making.

Forensic Auditor

Forensic Auditors are Chartered Accountants who specialize in investigating financial crimes, fraud, and financial irregularities. They play a crucial role in identifying and preventing financial misconduct, providing litigation support, and conducting forensic investigations.

Opportunities and Career Path of Chartered Accountants

Becoming a Chartered Accountant opens up a wide range of career opportunities in various sectors. Some common career paths for CAs in South Africa include:

Public Practice

Many Chartered Accountants choose to work in public accounting firms, offering accounting, auditing, taxation, and advisory services to clients. This path allows for exposure to diverse industries and clients of varying sizes.

Corporate Sector

CAs find rewarding roles in corporations, ranging from finance and accounting departments to executive management positions. They contribute to financial planning, analysis, internal controls, risk management, and strategic decision-making.

Government and Public Sector

The government and public sector provide opportunities for CAs to work in regulatory bodies, auditing agencies, tax authorities, or financial management roles in government departments. These roles involve ensuring financial accountability and effective resource management.

Academia and Consulting

Experienced Chartered Accountants often pursue careers in academia, teaching accounting and finance-related subjects in universities and colleges. Some also venture into consulting, providing specialized advisory services to organizations.

Professional Associations and Regulation

Chartered Accountants in South Africa are regulated by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). SAICA is the professional body responsible for setting and maintaining high standards of professional conduct and competence among Chartered Accountants in the country. It oversees the qualification process, professional examinations, and continuing professional development requirements.

SAICA Membership Benefits

Becoming a member of SAICA offers numerous benefits to Chartered Accountants. Some of the advantages include:

– Access to a professional network of fellow CAs, creating opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and knowledge sharing.

– Continuing professional development (CPD) programs and resources to enhance skills, knowledge, and expertise in the accounting profession.

– Updates on regulatory changes, industry trends, and best practices through newsletters, publications, and conferences.

– Recognition and credibility as a qualified Chartered Accountant, which enhances career prospects and professional reputation.

International Recognition and Mobility

Chartered Accountants in South Africa enjoy international recognition, allowing them to pursue career opportunities both locally and globally. The CA(SA) designation is recognized and respected in many countries, facilitating mobility and cross-border employment opportunities.

Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs)

SAICA has entered into Mutual Recognition Agreements with various international accounting bodies. These agreements enable Chartered Accountants in South Africa to pursue reciprocal membership or qualifications in partner countries, further expanding their professional horizons.

Professional Ethics and Code of Conduct

Maintaining high ethical standards is a fundamental aspect of the Chartered Accountancy profession. Chartered Accountants in South Africa are bound by the SAICA Code of Professional Conduct, which provides guidelines and principles for ethical behaviour in the accounting profession.

The code encompasses various ethical considerations, such as integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, confidentiality, and professional behaviour. Adhering to these ethical standards is crucial for upholding the reputation and trustworthiness of Chartered Accountants.

Evolving Role in the Digital Era

The role of Chartered Accountants has evolved significantly with the advent of technology and the digital era. CAs now face new challenges and opportunities in areas such as:

Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Advancements in automation and AI have impacted the accounting profession, transforming traditional processes and creating opportunities for more strategic and analytical roles. Chartered Accountants need to stay updated with technology trends and acquire new skills to leverage these innovations effectively.

Data Analytics and Business Insights

With the abundance of data available, Chartered Accountants are increasingly involved in analyzing and interpreting financial and non-financial data to provide valuable insights to businesses. This requires proficiency in data analytics tools and techniques to extract meaningful information.

Cybersecurity and Risk Management

As businesses face growing threats in the digital landscape, Chartered Accountants play a vital role in ensuring cybersecurity and managing risks related to financial data and systems. They contribute to designing effective control measures and implementing robust risk management frameworks.



The requirements to become a Chartered Accountant in South Africa encompass educational qualifications, professional training, examinations, and adherence to ethical standards. SAICA plays a crucial role in regulating the profession and supporting Chartered Accountants throughout their careers.

Chartered Accountants play a vital role in financial reporting, auditing, taxation, and advisory services, contributing to the economic growth and stability of South Africa.

With international recognition, evolving roles in the digital era, and a strong emphasis on ethics, the Chartered Accountancy profession offers a dynamic and rewarding pathway for individuals passionate about finance, accounting, and business.

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