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In the first part, we saw an introduction to International professional courses and their framework. As mentioned, we will be discussing about 4 international professional courses which are widely accepted. We had discussed in detail about ACCA, UK and CGMA, UK in part 1. Now we are going to discuss about 2 more international courses - CPA and CMA in detail.

Click here to read the 1st part of the article

The series: Lets go International - Part 2

3. CPA, USA

CPA is the acronym for Certified Public Accountant. The governing body is referred to as AICPA - American Institute for Certified Public Accountants.

CPA USA

The course has 4 levels and an Ethics module. Each level has one exam based on one subject. The exams can be taken up in any order. The ethics module though can be taken up only after completing all the 4 exams.

The time period within which a candidate is expected to complete all the 5 modules is 18 months. The score required to pass an exam is 75 out of a total score of 99. The pass % for an exam varies between 40% to 60%.

The exams are a combination of MCQ and case study. All the exams can be taken on-demand.

  • Employment opportunities - Sectors:

A CPA can enter various sectors ranging from IT, Manufacturing, FMCG, Financial Institution, Insurance and other service sectors, public sector, government departments, academia.

Employment opportunities -  Role & Department:

  • Financial reporting
  • Internal control
  • Audit
  • Tax
  • Compliance
  • Business valuation
  • Forensic accounting
  • Public accounting
 

Employment opportunities -  countries. The following countries offer acceptance and scope for CPA in terms of job:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • UK
  • Europe
  • India
  • Middle East
  • Korea
  • Japan
  • Singapore & neighbours
  • Russia
  • New Zealand
  • Parts of Africa

A pictorial score board to aid in decision making:

CPA USA

*1 year work experience certified by a CPA, is required post completion of all modules to obtain the qualification as CGMA. *Key to the image is given at the bottom of the article.

4. The last but definitely not the least - CMA, USA

CMA is the acronym for Certified Management Accountants, USA. The governing body is IMA - Institute of Management Accountants.

CMA USA

The course has 2 parts, each part consisting of one main subject and one single exam. Each part/exam consists 6 sub-sections of related subjects, each sub-section carrying around 15% weightage. The parts/exams can be taken up in any order.

The time period available for a candidate to complete the course is 3 years. The pass score required to pass each exam is 360 out of a maximum score of 500. The pass % of each part is generally around 50%.

The exams are a combination of MCQ and essay-type questions.

 

The exams are session-based conducted 3 times a year.

  • Employment opportunities - Sectors:

A CPA can enter various sectors ranging from IT, Manufacturing, FMCG, Financial Institution, Insurance and other service sectors, public sector, real estate, Pharma, NPO.

Employment opportunities - Role & Department:

  • Finance
  • Decision making
  • Forensic accounting
  • Operations management

Employment opportunities - countries. The following countries offer acceptance and scope for CPA in terms of job:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • UK
  • Parts of Europe
  • India
  • China
  • Australia

A pictorial score board to aid in decision making:

CMA USA

*2 years work experience is required to obtain the qualification as CPA. *Key to the image is given at the bottom of the article.

So here we come to the end of discussion of 4 courses.

Some suggestions I would like to put forth

  • One should pursue international courses after completing a bachelor's degree.
  • Also, one should pursue them alongside work in related field. This will give the required practical exposure and eligibility for obtaining qualification after completion of all levels.
  • One can also take up these courses on completion of Indian professional courses. There could be several exemptions that can be enjoyed.
  • Out of the above 4, the course with highest scope globally is CPA. Unless the student has specific subject interest, CPA could be a default choice, since the score country wise and role wise is wide. The pass ability is also relatively easy.
  • CMA, USA is more like an add on course. It equips the candidate with decision-making skills. So, the ideal scenario would be where one has a professional qualification but wants to enter the key decision-making team - that is where CMA, USA really makes a difference.
  • We should understand that there are professional courses in each specific country like India. You have ICAEW, Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales; ICAA, Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia. These courses are very country specific and offer scope for employment and practise in their own country. Each Institute have MoU's with one another - so having a qualification in one country may offer various exemptions to directly obtain membership in another.

One important aspect to note by students is - International employers pay a lot of attention to skills of the candidate. For them qualification is only a base to be eligible for the post. The basis of choosing a candidate against the other is the skill set the candidate holds. They believe that tasks like auditing, financial reporting can be trained as the candidate has the knowledge, but skills like leadership, public speaking, presentation and negotiation cannot be trained per se, it is the responsibility of the candidate to groom himself/herself with those skills. And only then will he/she be considered a complete professional.

So I did say, if you want to pursue a professional course anywhere, groom yourself, always present yourself as a complete professional.

Students have various options, the basis of choice should the goal. One clear goal will help one decide the path to take up. The goal can be such as - to be a CFO in a global conglomerate or to be a part of key decision-making team in an international manufacturing company or to work in Germany/Canada.

So, make the most of the opportunities out there. There is one or the other path to achieve your goals.

All the best!

*Key to the score board images:

Key

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