Your Pathway to Leadership: The 3 Entry Routes to ICAEW Certification

icaew go places brochure image

The ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ACA) is a highly respected business and finance professional qualification that can be pursued by graduates from any discipline. A globally recognised qualification, the ICAEW ACA will allow you to build an international career as an ICAEW member.

For more information on ICAEW and the ACA, read this article to learn why over 149,000 chartered accountants chose the ACA qualification.

Who Can Pursue the ACA Qualification?

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be an accounting wizard or even need to have accounts as one of your foundation subjects to pursue the ICAEW ACA. Additionally, ICAEW welcomes university students and graduates across all degrees and majors.

That’s not to say your grades aren’t important. In fact, far from it.

For Diploma students, most employers will expect at least a B in English and Mathematics, while degree students will have to achieve a minimum 2nd Class Honours or 3.0 CPGA equivalent. Additionally, chartered accountants are required to have a wide range of relevant skills, which are built through the ICAEW ACA’s structured programme that combines employment with integrated learning. Keep up to date with the latest news and insights from ICAEW by signing up to their newsletter or follow them on social media here.


Training to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant

The ICAEW ACA qualification combines study and exams with ‘on-the-job’ training experience. You will be based with an ICAEW Authorised Training Employer (ATE), doing real work and earning a salary as you train. Depending on the route you take, it typically takes 3 to 5 years to complete the program. It is important to take note that you need to look for an ICAEW Authorised Training Employer (ATEs) to support you and enter into a training agreement with them.

The training agreement will outline the support you will receive during training and also include details about tuition, mentoring, and study leave. In addition to providing you with sufficient time out of the office for your studies, your ATE will pay for your tuition fees (with a dedicated tuition provider), examination fees, and student registration fees.

After you have successfully completed the ICAEW ACA qualification and passed all required modules, you will then have to apply to become a member of ICAEW. Upon obtaining approval, you will be officially recognised as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant and can use the letters ‘ACA’ after your name.

Routes to becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant

Depending on your personal outlook, career goals, and learning style, there are several paths you can take to become an ICAEW ACA, each with its own advantages and challenges.

ICAEW Chartered Accountant qualification consists of 3 levels, the Certificate Level, the Professional Level, and the Advanced Level. Depending on your current education level, you may be able to obtain exemptions for certain modules.

  • If you are a school leaver and have completed your SPM (or equivalent), STPM (or equivalent), or pursued a non-business & accounting Diploma or Degree, then you will have to start at the Certificate Level and complete all required modules
  • If you have graduated with a Diploma or Degree in Accounting, you can apply for up to 8 exam credits, and opt to start at the Professional Level

1. Full-time Studies

icaew full-time studies pathwayThis option is suitable for students who prefer to focus and study full-time instead of attempting to juggle between a day job and classes. Candidates will undertake full-time study for the Certificate and Professional level before gaining employment via the training agreement. Professional Level studies will be undertaken on a part-time basis during the training agreement period.

Note: For SPM (or equivalent) holders, you are required to take additional papers as a requirement by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.


2. Full-time Employment & Part-time Studies

icaew part-time studies pathway

This option is suitable for students who would like to study part-time while earning a salary through a full-time job. Many employers offer the ACA as an integral part of their graduate programmes.

School leavers who decide on this route will train for 4 – 5 years in total. As an option, school leavers can also choose to complete the Certificate level through full-time study before undertaking the part-time study route.

Full-time and part-time studies can be undertaken at any of the following ICAEW Tuition Providers:

icaew tuition provider list

Related: UpClose with Mark Billington, ICAEW Regional Director


3. Strategic Collaborations

This is a special partnership between ICAEW Malaysia and selected Partners in Learning. In this option, ICAEW works closely with specific Higher Education Institutions to offer an accelerated route towards becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant alongside a university degree.

Students who choose the strategic collaborations may be eligible for exemption. Here’s a list of Strategic Collaborations that are available in Malaysia with 8 CPL credits:

  • Sunway – Lancaster University
  • University Malaya
  • Multimedia University, Melaka
  • Multimedia University, Cyberjaya
  • Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)
  • Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)
  • Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNITAR)
  • University of Nottingham Malaysia (Masters Programme)

For programme details and further information, please contact ICAEW Malaysia.

Related: Why More Than 147,000 Professionals Chose the ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ICAEW ACA) Qualification


What’s Your Path to Leadership?

To summarise, you can train for the ICAEW ACA regardless of your study discipline or background. In fact, a significant number of the ICAEW Chartered Accountants are from a non-accountancy background, some even with degrees in the arts and humanities. However, if you study an accountancy, finance or business-related undergraduate degree, you may be eligible for exam credit towards the ICAEW ACA qualification, meaning fewer exam papers to complete. The ICAEW ACA ultimately prepares you for leadership right up to the board level and enables you to unlock your career aspirations with the support of a world-leading professional organisation behind you.

For more information on how to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant and the different training routes, visit their careers website.


Note: This article was written in partnership with ICAEW, one of the world’s leading providers of training and professional development for chartered accountants.

Feature Image Credit: ICAEW Go Places Brochure


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