How to Become a Chartered Professional Accountant

Posted by Fed Finance Canada in Our employment advice
Posted at 26/06/2023
How to Become a Chartered Professional Accountant
The Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation is an important title in the field of accounting and finance. It represents a combination of rigorous study and recognized professional expertise. Being a CPA is proof of competence and integrity, elevating an accountant’s credibility with employers and clients alike.

Fed Finance, a finance recruitment agency, spoke to a CPA who shared her top tips about becoming a CPA. 😊

A CPA's advice on getting your career off to a good start

Fed Finance spoke with Vanessa Simard, President of the Regroupement CPA de la Montérégie. As a Chartered Professional Accountant and Associate Director at Scotiabank, she offered some great advice for any CPA looking to get their career off to a good start. Here is a summary of the tips and insider information she shared with us. 😊

What does CPA stand for?

CPA stands for Chartered Professional Accountant. This professional designation can only be obtained through membership of the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec.

The CPA designation offers a wide range of professional opportunities, opening the door to a variety of jobs in accounting and finance

What's the difference between an accountant and a CPA?

In Quebec, the main difference between an accountant and a chartered accountant lies in their level of certification and training. An accountant is usually a professional with a university degree in accounting who is qualified to do bookkeeping, prepare financial statements and manage taxes.

A chartered accountant, on the other hand, is a professional who has passed the examination of the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec (CPA Québec) and earned the title of CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant). Chartered CPAs have undergone more in-depth training than accountants, have acquired significant professional experience and are authorized to perform more complex accounting tasks, including auditing, the certification of financial statements and management consulting.

How can you become a CPA in Quebec?

To become a CPA, you must first register as a candidate with the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec. From there, you begin a 7-year process which involves several steps.

First you must complete a two-year Professional Training Program (PFP), delivered either through a university or directly by the Ordre.

Once you have obtained 30 university credits, you can begin a 24-month paid internship, during which time you will continue to develop the qualities of a good accountant.

Finally, you will need to prepare for and complete the CFE (Common Final Examination), a three-day exam that is crucial to obtaining your CPA designation.

How do you get started as a CPA?

One of the keys to working in accounting and getting your career off to a good start is effective networking. Networking can start as early as university. The aim is to meet as many people as possible and take part in events, to make contacts and learn from other experienced people in the sector. Networking in finance can give you access to new job opportunities that may not be advertised on the market.

The world of accounting is very broad and you can discover countless and varied opportunities. It's possible to work in sales, in banking (if you want to focus on interpersonal skills), in manufacturing (if you want to get involved in operations), or even in healthcare (if you're interested in people and health). The important thing is to find out what makes you tick, so you can get your career off to a good start. To figure this out, you have to look for your passion! It’s a good idea to be daring and try new things.

What is a CPA’s salary?

Of course, having a CPA designation instead of an accountant means access to a higher salary. Being a member of the Ordre has a real impact on salary levels and helps you progress more quickly. The more experience you have, the higher your salary.

According to this compensation study by Fed Finance, a CPA Chief Accountant earns between $75,000 and $85,000 as a junior and can earn up to $130,000 as a senior in the Greater Montreal area. The average salary is around $100,000.

Fed Finance recruits Chartered Professional Accountants

If you're a CPA looking for a job in finance, Fed Finance is ready to review your application! Our Montreal-based recruitment agency connects finance and accounting professionals with companies to create advantageous partnerships.

Go ahead and submit a spontaneous application - we'll be delighted to help you polish your professional goals and boost your career!