What Qualifications Does a Professional Accountant Have?

The accounting industry consists of a large number of general and specialised professional accountants, who choose to either pursue qualifications that enable them to work as all round account practitioners, or develop their skills and expertise within a specialised accounting niche. Many accountants begin their career with a general tertiary education such as a Bachelor of Accounting Science (BCompt) degree, before choosing specialised fields. Accounting can also be completed as a major subject for those studying a BCom general, or a BCom in finance, economics or even management.

Post-graduate qualifications vary depending on specific fields within accounting, with a wide range of qualifications for each area. Some of the qualifications for professional accountants within various areas of the industry include the following:

  • Chartered Accountant – qualification: CA. These accountants deal with financial management and consultancy, and are governed by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
  • Associate General Accountant – qualification: AGA. Duties include general accounting, with the accounting body being the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
  • Registered Auditor and Accountant – qualification: RAA. These professional accountants deal with all auditing duties, and are governed by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors.
  • Chartered Management – qualification: CM. Duties include Accountant Management and Cost Accounting, and accountants are registered with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
  • Professional Accountant – qualification: Professional Accountant (SA). These accountants perform all services, with specialised sub-categories and are governed by the South African Institute of Professional Accountants.
  • Registered Accounting Officer – qualification: IACAO. Duties are general accounting services, with the Institute of Administration and Commerce governing this area of accounting.
  • Certified Junior/Senior Bookkeeper – qualification: CJBIcb/ CSBIcb. Duties include bookkeeping, payroll, SARS returns plus cost and management accounting functions (juniors do not perform income tax services) and bookkeepers are registered with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers.
  • Tax Practitioner – qualification: Registered Tax Practitioner. Core areas include tax planning, returns and advice, and professional accountants specialising in tax services are registered with the South African Revenue Services.

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