Do you have a passion for numbers? Do you often find yourself working through calculations without getting bored or becoming confused?
If this sounds familiar, it could mean a career as an accountant is beckoning you. There has never been a better time to consider following this career in South Africa. The country is experiencing a significant shortage of qualified people to work in the accountancy field, and this is good news for you if you want to follow this career.
What does an accountant do?
An accountant has a very important role to play in the running of a business. They will be responsible for working out all calculations concerned with payroll. Indeed some accountants specialise in this area. They also record all income and expenditure to do with the business, in order to keep proper accounts for tax purposes. An accountant will also typically check bank statements are correct and adhere to the records kept by the company, as well as preparing financial statements for the use of managers.
Make sure you get a University Entrance Matric with good marks in Maths and Accounting (these will form the base of your knowledge and, while the actual subject content is not earth shatteringly useful, the logic and process of thinking is vital).
Enroll at a university for a degree that is SAICA recognised to write CTA (Certificate in the Theory of Accounting which is also your Honours year). A list of SAICA accredited universities can be found here.
Complete your degree and obtain high enough marks to get entrance into CTA – then complete CTA.
Some Training offices allow you to complete your Learnership (Step 4 below) at the same time as you study for your degree and CTA. Should you choose this step, you can do your degree part time with UNISA while you complete your degree.
For your CTA, you can do part time with UNISA or enroll for after-hours with Monash University. If you choose UNISA, you can take classes offered by various institutions such as Graduate Achievers or Edge Business School, among others.
Both the degree and CTA are rather challenging so you have to carefully consider whether you can manage this part time while you work. However, it is attainable if you are willing to put in the extra effort.
Sign up with a Training Office such as RSM in order to start your Learnership. If you begin your Learnership at the start of CTA or after CTA you will need to complete a 3 year fixed term Training Contract. This is an employment contract that runs in conjunction with your SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) Learnership.
There are 2 board exams. The first one is known as the Initial Test of Competence (ITC). You are eligible to write it in the year after you pass your CTA. Universities prepare you for ITC through CTA. The second exam is the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). You become eligible after completing 18 months of your training contract.
After completing your Learnership and passing both parts of the board exams you will qualify as a CA(SA) – a registered Chartered Accountant in South Africa.
CA: Chartered Accountant
SAICA: South African Institute of Chartered Accountants
IRBA: Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors (used to be known as PAAB)
Trainee: A person who has signed a training contract and is studying towards becoming a CA
Training Contract: An employment contract that run in conjunction with a SAICA Learnership
Training Office: A registered training office can offer you a learnership to become a CA