So you want to be an accountant? What’s next? The Society of Professional Accountants of Canada grants the certification of a Registered Professional Accountant (RPA). This designation requires that you complete required courses, pass an exam, and maintain high ethical standards before and after receiving it.
Accounting Certifications in Canada
The Registered Professional Accountant certification is appropriate for practitioners in both public and private roles, but it places special emphasis on small to medium-sized businesses and public practice. It is different than the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, which requires two years of graduate study. If you move to Canada from a different country and your foreign CPA credentials don’t transfer, you may want to consider applying for the RPA designation, which you may be able to obtain more quickly.
Other accounting certifications, including the Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified General Accountant (CGA), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) are being phased out in Canada and will end in 2022. Practitioners with these designations may use the CPA designation.
Educational Requirements for the RPA Certification
To become an RPA, you must possess a college degree and complete a number of required courses. Most Canadian undergraduate accounting majors satisfy the prerequisite requirements, but if you don’t have an accounting degree, you can take additional post-secondary classes in accounting and finance. The prerequisite courses are usually the same ones needed to become a CA, CGA, CMA, or CPA.
The RPA Application Process
Have a degree and required courses in hand? Then you need to submit an application to the SPAC and pass four mandatory professional exams. The exams cover:
- Advanced accounting and reporting
- Advanced auditing
- Business law
- Professional responsibilities
- Advanced taxation and tax planning
- Advanced financial management.
You can take study and review courses on these specific topics, or if you feel confident enough, you can just sit for those exams based on the information you learned in your university courses. Once you pass the exams, you need to log required hours of practical work experience, after which you’ll receive your RPA credential.
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