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CA vs CS: Which career is meant for you?

Oct 5, 2017 18:07 IST
Major differences between CA and CS
Major differences between CA and CS

CA (Chartered Accountant) and CS (Company Secretary) are go-to career options for commerce students in India and hence, are their first choice when asked to make a call. Each year, thousands of students across the country chase the elusive dream of becoming a CA or CS.

India is a developing nation and has many opportunities for professionals, especially in the field of accountancy and commerce in general. The drive to become CA or CS is borne of the aspiration of reaching the top of the food chain. The question here is, which is the difference between CA and CS?

The Basic Similarities
Both the fields are tremendously technical and require an incredible amount of numerical ability and mathematical discipline. Hence, if mathematics isn’t your cup of tea, it is better to steer clear of either of the two. You have to be incredibly patient ad have a great amount of perseverance with numbers and statistics to clear your CA exams. In the same way, CS also involves a decent amount of mathematics and statistics. The focus in CS is more on the legal side of things but the job itself involves a plenty amount of number crunching.

A-Z of Chartered Accountancy (CA)

People may give you wrong advice and might confuse you by advising to take up CA preparation. These people, when pressed on the scope of the field or the saturation level of the industry, will often shrug it off the question. Chartered Accountancy is a post graduation title given to a student after completion of a given set of courses. The job includes formulating of financial strategies, planning long term investments and pension funds, mergers and acquisition strategies and diligence of investments.
Many top business executives at major corporations started off their careers in accounting by becoming a Chartered Accountant. The aptitude to gauge numbers and deal with statistics and data on a daily basis is expected of CAs.

Scope Of Chartered Accountancy In India
At this moment, the scope of CA in India is limitless. Fields such as engineering are slowly fizzling out due to lack of growth opportunities and students are still keen on pursuing it. CA studies haven’t even reached that amount of craze amongst students.
In India, CA studies and titles are given by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). Chartered Accountancy is a distance learning course with exams scheduled every year in the month of May and are conducted by ICAI. The complete procedure for becoming a CA is as follows:

Common Proficiency Test (CPT)
CPT is the first step for becoming a CA. Held twice every year, CPT is compulsory for candidates without a graduate degree in commerce and the candidates can appear for CA –CPT after 10+2. The exam is held in June and December each year. Online application form is available on the official ICAI website for Rs. 500, whereas offline forms can be obtained from ICAI Bhawan, Indraprastha Marg, New Delhi for Rs. 1500. As the gap is obviously a lot, it is advisable to register online and save money.
Students from any stream can appear for CPT provided they had taken mathematics as a subject during 10+2. Many engineering students appear for CPT too, though they generally have to attend coaching classes to understand core commerce.

Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC)
IPCC is the second course and step towards becoming a CA. It comprises two groups of subjects which have 4 papers respectively that are required to be cleared to move forward. These subjects are slightly difficult than those in CPT Level and require extreme preparation and dedication to clear.
Most students fail to clear IPCC in their first attempt because of the level of difficulty. The pass percentage for IPCC May Group 1 was 16.19 and 21.47 for Group 2 in 2017.

CA Finals

In the end come CA Finals that are the toughest of all previous exams. CA Finals are effectively close to post-graduate level exams testing not only technical and problem solving abilities of the candidate. It usually takes CAs 3-5 years to finish CA Finals on an average and require a lot of commitment and perseverance.

Company Secretary

Many topics in CA and CS do overlap over time, because of which they are mistaken to be similar. However, in the jobs market, both degrees are used to perform different roles.
A company secretary is essentially an in-house legal advisor demarcating the working of a company based on guidelines and rules given by the government. A CS makes sure companies work within a this framework and comply with guidelines which have to be followed. Every listed company in India has to employ a company secretary in a key managerial position to ensure smooth functioning.

Here are exams you need to clear for becoming a CS:

Foundation Programme
Foundation course is the first step towards becoming a CS. This is an eight month long course and is conducted by the Institute of Company Secretaries in India (ICSI). It acquaints students with the fundamentals concepts which a typical company secretary has to cover. This includes legal entities of taxation, labor laws, corporate laws, accounting and financial analysis. Just like CA, CS is a distance learning course Which sometimes requires coaching classes for preparation.

Executive Programme
The executive programme is an intermediate programme and equivalent of IPCC while doing CA. Divided into two modules containing seven subjects in total, this program digs further into the legal framework of the functioning of a company and its activities.
Students can appear for one single or both papers together, but the deadline for registration differs.

Professional Course
The professional course is the final exam needed to be cleared for becoming a CS. Like CA Finals, many students sometimes take multiple attempts to clear all the exams and become a CS. This particular course can be attempted only by those who have cleared the Executive programme.

Both CA and CS are expected to be proficient in handling problems of their field of study. Even if you manage to somehow clear all the exams of CA and CS, there is no point of being bad at it, as no one wants to hire a semi-professional to handle financial problems. Thus, it is necessary to have a certain aptitude in mathematics and statistics while thinking of pursuing professional commerce courses like CA and CS.

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