Difference between CPA and CA | CPA vs CA

There are many career options for aspirants who want to expertise in the field of finance, accounting, taxation, business etc. that offer good pay and better employment opportunities. Out of many courses, CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and CA (Chartered Accountant) designations conferred to qualified accountants. 

But, which one is better? Let’s go in detail about both the courses.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA):

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional who has passed the Uniform CPA exam administered by AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). The designation of CPA enforces good professional standards in the field of accounting. CPAs are experts in US federal income tax, US GAAP, and many other areas of US financial and accounting laws. The CPA certification is respected all over the world, and it’s US designation certifying the professionals in the US accounting to perform taxation and auditing tasks.

Chartered Accountant (CA):

A Chartered Accountant (CA) is a professional who has passed the CA exam. Many organizations provide an examination for CAs such as Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA), and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

The Chartered Accountants in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Mexico have a reciprocity agreement with the U.S. They can work as CPAs in the United States by clearing the equivalent exam. Besides, CAs are experts in international accounting standards and IFRS.

MeaningIt’s an accounting designation given to a qualified accountant in the US.It’s a degree offered to qualified accountants in India.
Course DurationWithin 1 yearMinimum 4 years
Governing BodyAmerican Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
Who is Eligible?Must have 120 credits (150 credits in some states) from a NAAC recognized college to become eligible for the CPA exam. Students who cleared 10+2 education are eligible to pursue the CA course.
Exam ModeOnlineWritten
Exam Pattern4 exams 3 levels of exam
Exam Testing Windows4 testing windows:January 1 – March 10April 1 – June 10July 1 – September 10October 1 – December 10Level 1 – June & December.Level 2 & 3 – May & November.

CPA Exam Format:

There are four sections in the CPA exam:

  1. Regulation (REG)
  2. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  3. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  4. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

The AICPA administers the CPA exam. The total duration of the exam is 16 hours (4 hours for each section). 

SectionSection TimeMultiple-Choice QuestionsTask-Based SimulationsWritten Communication
REG4 Hours768
AUD4 Hours728
FAR4 Hours 668
BEC4 Hours6243

Multiple-choice questions vary from being one sentenced to paragraph length questions with 4 potential answers. Whereas, the Task-based simulations require the candidates to type in answers, and may include journal entries, research questions, reconciling accounts, filling out a form with multiple questions, or filling out report sections. Written communication tasks test the ability of a candidate through writing; these are essential in the business environment. 

CA Exam Format:

There are 3 exam levels in Chartered Accountancy. 

  • Level-1: CA Foundation
  • Level-2: CA Intermediate
  • Level-3: CA Final

Level-1: CA Foundation is an entry-level exam for the students who have passed their class-12. It’s an offline mode of exam and 4 months of study is a must to appear for this exam. The candidates who passed this level-1 are allowed for level-2 (CA Intermediate) exam.

Level-2: CA Intermediate exam of Chartered Accountancy is for the candidates who cleared the CA foundation exam. Besides, the candidates who also qualified for the CA CPT are also eligible for the CA Intermediate exam.

Level-3: CA Final exam is conducted for the candidates who passed the CA Intermediate exam and have completed at least 2.5 years of articled training. 

Career Paths: CPA vs CA

Both Certified Public Accountants and Chartered Accountants focus on providing financial services for the clients – either large corporations or small businesses. Areas of expertise include financial reporting, taxation, auditing, and business/managerial accounting. Both CPAs and CAs work in the public and private sectors.

The CPA degree paves countless opportunities to work for some of the most renowned companies around the world.

Becoming a CPA can lead to several career options:

Public Accounting: In public accounting firms, CPAs provide services encompassing accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting services for clients of any size. The auditing of financial statements of public and private companies is a highly coveted job.

Business, Government, and Not-for-Profits: In this broad field, CPAs can hold a variety of positions ranging from financial analysts and staff accountants to CFOs. They are responsible for recording, analyzing, and reporting financial information for organizations. Additionally, they perform budgeting and internal auditing functions.

Specialist: CPAs also provide services in specialized areas. CPAs assist organizations by conducting risk assessments as well as analyzing, implementing systems improvements and revisions, in managing their information technology, including the massive amounts of data collected.

Financial Advisor: CPAs also serve as financial advisors to individuals by making informed financial decisions on their behalf to help them, manage their finances related to home purchases, college savings, starting a business, and retirement planning.

The CPA certification paves countless opportunities to work for some of the most renowned companies around the world.

Mentioned below are some of the best jobs in India for a CPA:

  • Senior Financial Analyst
  • Risk and Compliance Professional
  • Corporate Controller
  • Accounting Software Developer
  • Information technology Accountant
  • Personal Financial Advisor
  • Finance Director

A Chartered Accountant can pursue a career in the following firms:

  • Internal Auditing
  • Forensic Auditing
  • Tax Auditing
  • A career in Accounting and Finance
  • Managing Treasury function
  • Statutory Audit under applicable statutes
  • Taxation Advisory (Both Direct and Indirect)
  • Finance Controller, Bookkeeping


When it comes to which course is best between CPA and CA, we can say both are good in their places. If you pursue CPA, you can go through international laws, standards, and principles, whereas if you pursue CA, you will get to know more about Indian standards, accounting laws, and principles. One of the greatest advantages of CPA is that CPA credential is recognized globally. Hope these detailed insights of CPA and CA help you choose the best course suitable for your career. If you still have any queries, feel free to comment below.


Simandhar Education is the leading training provider in alliance with Becker professional education for professional courses like US CPA, US CMA, CIA, EA , IFRS and HRCI. Simandhar is present in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Argentina, Philippines, UK & Ireland. Simandhar offers training under the guidance of experts with vast industry experience.

Learn how to clear your CPA exams with extremely satisfying results by getting proper guidance and knowledge through our online courses and video tutorials taught by industry Experts. We’re here to provide you with all the help that you need in order to ace your CPA, CMA exams. We are just a call away for any assistance. Simandhar Education is the leading training provider for the CPA Exam in India. Contact [email protected] 91 9390584166.

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