CPA vs CA: Understanding the Key Differences

Introduction

The importance of the accounting and finance department, playing a front line role in controlling the economic effect of disruption, is being reinforced. This reinforcement is driven by the constantly changing corporate environment and consumer habits. Many organizations rely on their accounting teams to collect and evaluate snapshot data in order to support ongoing planning and growth initiatives. This is because companies lack the historical data road map they need to compare their actions to benchmarks or forecast potential future scenarios.
However, how can one take advantage of this need and work in accounting? The CA and CPA USA are both outstanding degrees that may provide a career in accounting with a competitive edge. The question is, how do you decide which one to study? Chartered Accountants (CA) and Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are both extremely skilled professionals, but there are some key distinctions between the two. It will be easier for you to become a financial expert if you are aware of the differences between a CPA Course and a CA.

Understanding the CA and US CPA

A certified public accountant is a professional who has completed the CPA Course offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and fulfilled all requirements for taking the exam regarding education and work experience.  
A chartered accountant is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, a formally recognized institution of accountants. It is a professional accounting degree awarded in India to people who complete the Chartered Accountancy program and pass an exam administered by the Institute at three different levels. From a technical standpoint, the CA course curriculum is largely focused on auditing and tax concerns, and one can also tread on the path of CA to CPA USA for maximum global exposure.

CA vs. CPA - Eligibility Criteria

CPA - If you want to take the CPA course and give the examination, you must have a Bachelors degree or a minimum of 120150 credits in education. Moreover, the education or degree should be obtained from a recognized institution along with a minimum of 24 credits in business-related courses.
CA - After taking the Senior Secondary Examination, candidates must take the Common Proficiency Test (CPT) in order to qualify for the Indian CA Examination. Every year, the CPT Examination is held in June and December; thus, the first thing you need to do is register for the exam 60 days beforehand, or by the first of April & the first of October, respectively.
One goes for the CA to CPA USA transition as they might get some exemptions in satisfying the CPA eligibility requirements.

Key Differences Between CA vs. CPA USA

The following list highlights the primary distinctions between a Chartered Accountant (CA) and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA):
  • The certification of CA, which is an India-based certification, is mostly recognized in India and, to a lesser extent, in a few Middle Eastern nations, but the US CPA certification, which is at an international level, is recognized everywhere.
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in India, also known as ICAI, provides a CA course, whereas the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or AICPA, offers CPA training.
  • In comparison to someone with a CA degree, someone with a CPA degree will be eligible for higher pay.
  • While CA covers Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), US CPA covers both US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
  • Comparatively speaking, a CA course requires more time to finish than a CPA course. The least amount of time needed for an applicant to pass the CA exam is four to five years, but the minimum and maximum amounts of time needed to complete the CPA Course are seven months and one year, respectively.
  • While CA examinations are taken offline, US CPA exams are taken online.
  • The US CPA exam is a single online test, but the CA tests are administered through four levels: the Common Proficiency Test (CPT), the Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC OR IPCE), the three-year articleship with a CA business, and the final exam.
  • In order to get a CA license, a candidate must complete at least three years of article-ship in a firm of chartered accountants, although this requirement is not relevant to US CPA students.

Career Opportunities - CA vs. CPA USA

CPA - The US CPA course will provide access to many opportunities. You can work in a variety of accounting disciplines after receiving your CPA USA certification, including:
  • International Accounting
  • Internal & External Auditing
  • Consulting Services
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Assurance Services
  • Taxation & Financial Planning, etc.
You may find the ideal place to work anywhere in many nations because of its widespread awareness.
CA - Similar to that, having a CA designation will open up a wide range of alternatives for you in the accounting-related fields of auditing, taxation, corporate finance, and corporate law. After earning your CA certification, you have two options for employment: you may either start your own independent professional practice or work for one of the top accounting businesses already in existence.

Learning the Differences Between Job Responsibilities ranging from CA to CPA USA

A CA often serves important stakeholders with trustworthy information about the company's finances, audits accounts, and offers advice on financial records. Along with assessing the business system and identifying risks, this also entails giving guidance on tax planning and business transactions, managing financial systems and budgets, and handling any financial irregularities that may arise.
You will work primarily in one of these three areas as a US CPA: management, audit/assurance, or tax. Tax services comprise-
Tax Return Filing
  • Collaborating with the business to reduce taxes
  • Assisting the customer in the event of any tax issues
  • Assisting the customer in the event of any tax issues

Salary Comparison of CPAs and CAs

As per the payscale, CPA professionals in India make an average yearly pay of INR 8.6 lakh. If they have more than ten years of experience in their profession, the majority of people move on to different occupations.
In India, the average yearly salary for a chartered accountant is INR 6.8 Lakh. Budget management, financial analysis, strategic accounts, and financial advisor are skills that are related to high pay for this position. Evaluation and management auditing is another.

Comparison Table of US CPA & CA

We have included all the major differences between CA vs. CPA in this table for your ease of understanding:
Basis of comparisonCPACA
RecognitionCPA is a global degree that is recognized in countries with English-speaking populations, including the United States. India and certain Middle Eastern countries have high regard for the CA degree.
InstituteThe CPA course is organized by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants).The CA program is offered by the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants in India).
EligibilityAnyone with a five-year or higher degree in business or accounting is eligible to enroll in this program.A candidate may sign up for this program after passing the class 12 examinations.
Course DurationThe length of a CPA course might range from seven to a year.It takes four to five years to finish a CA course.
Passing ScoreThe total passing percentage for CPA is 45%.The passing percentage in CA is 5%.

FAQs

1. Can I do CPA after 12th Commerce?
Ans. No, you cannot pursue a CPA course after the 12th grade. A bachelor's degree in an applicable field is required. To qualify for the exam, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance. 
2. Does a CPA USA course require a degree?
Ans. A BA student can also seek US CPA if they supplement their degree with a postgraduate degree in accounting or an MBA. A graduating degree and a total of 120 credit scores are required for US CPA eligibility.
3. Which has more scope, US CPA or CA, in India?
Ans. Becoming a US CPA is the best option if you wish to work abroad or for MNCs and Big 4 Companies like Deloitte, KPMG, EY (Ernst & Young), and PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers). If you want to establish your own audit practice in India, then becoming a CA is a good idea. However, many individuals transition from CA to CPA USA to get better working opportunities.
4. Which course provides a high-paying job, CPA or CA?
Ans. Based on overall rank, employer, total experience, and geographic location, CA and CPA salaries might differ significantly. While a CA earns an average income of between Rs 6.5 and Rs 7 LPA in India, a US CPA typically earns between Rs 8 and Rs 10 LPA. Additionally, US CPAs receive high bonuses and considerable annual salary raises.
5. Can I do CPA after BE?
Ans. After receiving your BE, you can absolutely become a CPA USA. The US CPA does not have a mandatory degree requirement. The CPA uses a credit system; therefore, in order to sit for the exam, you must have 120 or 150 credits from a NAAC-recognized university, depending on the state you wish to apply for.

Conclusion

Making a sound career option will not be too tough now that we have nearly discussed all the differences - CA vs. CPA. The decision between CA to CPA is difficult, nevertheless, because both degrees have flourishing careers. Both courses are the best in their respective regions when it comes to comparing which one is superior. There are benefits and drawbacks to each. Choosing a well-optimized US CPA certification course is the best choice if you want to work abroad or for a multinational company. If you want to launch your own audit practice in India, you also have the choice to become a CA.
CA or CPA USA certification, both examinations will be difficult; thus, candidates should enroll at a reputed organization like NorthStar Academy (NSA) where they can get guidance from experienced world-class mentors like M. Irfat Sir. To save costs, NSA offers students specialized study materials, video lectures, live sessions, and package discounts.