The Registered Professional Accountant (RPA) certification is granted by the Society of Professional Accountants of Canada, Having this designation requires you to complete classes, pass an exam, and maintain high ethical standards.
To become an RPA, you first have to earn a college degree and complete the required courses to become an accountant. Typically, you can do that by getting an accounting degree or taking courses on accounting, finances, ethics, and similar topics. The prerequisite courses tend to be the same ones you traditionally need to become a Chartered Accountant (CA), a Certified General Accountant (CGA), a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), or a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).
Then you need to submit an application to the Society of Professional Accountants of Canada (SPAC) and pass four mandatory professional exams. The exams are on advanced accounting and reporting; advanced auditing, business law, and professional responsibilities; advanced taxation and tax planning; and advanced financial management. You can take tutorial courses on those specific topics, or if you feel confident enough, you can also just sit for those exams based on the information you learned in your university courses. Once you pass the exams, you have to also log some hours of practical work experience to earn your RPA credentials.
As of 2014, all the major accounting bodies in Canada merged, but the Society of Professional Accountants of Canada was not part of the merger. Under the new rules, CAs, CMAs, and CGAs all become CPAs, but professional accountants can continue using their old designation along with their new CPA designation until 2022. Unfortunately, RPAs were not given the CPA designation.
If you move to Canada from a different country and your credentials don’t transfer, you may want to consider the RPA designation. That can be more quickly obtained than the CPA designation. Alternately, you may just want to follow the path to become a CPA.