If you find that you have a natural flair with numbers, are able to easily identify patterns and enjoy a bit of problem-solving, a career in Accounting may be ideal for you.

Accountants were often stereotyped as humourless bean counters in the past, but this impression is quickly changing with the impact of social media - we are now given an inside glimpse into the day-to-day operations of a number of different career paths.

Bookkeeping and number crunching only form a small part of what modern-day accountants do as the development of accounting software has freed up time that used to be taken up by writing columns of numbers into the general ledger.

Skilled Accountants are still a sought-after commodity - the Big Four Accounting Firms (Deloitte, PwC, E&Y and KPMG) had a staff complement of more that 1 million employees, worldwide, in 2019.

However, opportunities can be found across many business sectors - with the right qualification, the sky's the limit!

If you’re undecided about which career to pursue but feel that you would like to learn accounting, perhaps the accounting courses below will interest you.

Bachelors Degrees

There are a number of options available to you when pursuing a Bachelors degree with accounting specialisation.

BCom  - Accounting and Law, General Accountant and Chartered Accountant (CA) streams are available and can be completed over three years.

BBusSc- Finance CA or Non-CA options, which will take a minimum of four years to complete.

If you've chosen to follow the BCom CA or BBusSc CA streams, once you've graduated, you can enrol for the Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA). After completion of the PGDA you will be eligible to write the first SAICA exam - Initial Test of Competence.

If you've chose the non CA streams, you can proceed to write professional examinations with one of the following institutions, amongst others:

  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
Man presenting profit statement
Because of the diversity of the roles they can fill and the value they offer organisations, skilled Accountants are still a sought-after commodity | Source: Unsplash

Qualifications Offered by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)

SAICA was established in 1980 and has entrenched itself as the leading accounting body in South Africa.

SAICA offers three professional qualifications:

  • Chartered Accountant (CA)  - as a CA(SA) you can perform many roles, including, but not limited to lecturing, management consultancy, auditing and management and forensic accounting.
  • Associate General Accountant (AGA) - you can assist with tax planning as well as compilation, design internal accounting systems, provide management with relevant information to help with business operations and communicate financial information in an effective manner.
  • Accounting Technician (ATA) - in conjunction with Accounting Technicians South Africa - you will be eligible to provide a Finance support role, such as a bookkeeper, junior accountant or creditors clerk, in addition to many other roles.

After completing a BCom CA or BBusSc degree, you need to complete the PGDA or CTA before you can write the initial test of competence and start your training contract.

You then need to complete the Assessment of Professional Competence (after completing at least 20 months of your training contract) before you can register as a CA(SA).

The AGA (SA) can be pursued in more than one way. If you possess a SAICA accredited degree and a SAICA discharged training contract, you can then go on to register as an AGA(SA).

Alternatively if you have a degree with no training contract, but have at least four years of relevant work experience, you can complete a training equivalence assessment and, if successful, you can then register as an AGA(SA).

Declare your withholding tax
As an AGA(SA) you can assist with tax planning and tax compilation | Source: Unsplash

If you do not have a SAICA accredited degree but are a member of SAIPA, SAIGA or the ACCA, and have a Bachelors degree with at least six years of work experience, you can then complete the training equivalence assessment and register as an AGA(SA)

There are three AT(SA) qualifications available:

  • Accounting Qualifications (AQ),
  • Accounting Qualifications: Public Sector (PS), and
  • Accounting Qualifications: Local Government.

Each of these qualifications has three certificates that can be obtained.

If you choose to start with the AT (SA) Level Three Certificate: Accounting Technician, you only require a good understanding of English and Mathematics in order to register to study. Once completed you can register for level four and finally level five, after which, with proof of one year's relevant work experience, you can apply to become a platinum member of AT(SA).

Courses Offered by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants was founded in 1904 and is truly a global organisation - members of ACCA work in over 180 countries worldwide.

The ACCA offers two Accounting qualifications: Foundations in Accounting and the ACCA Qualification.

The foundation courses were designed for students who don’t have any prior qualifications (you only need a matric certificate and completion of the Foundations in Professionalism short course) and you will be taught Finance basics that you can use to secure a role as a junior accountant, administrator or trainee bookkeeper.

There are four Foundations in Accounting qualifications available:


ACCA Diploma in Financial and Management Accounting

You will cover and be examined on two subjects, Recording Financial Transactions and Management Information. Once successfully completed, you will be awarded the Introductory Certificate in Financial and Management Accounting.


ACCA Intermediate Diploma in Financial and Management Accounting

Although this qualification is the second course in the Foundations in Accounting qualification, you do not need to complete the first course in order to enrol for the second. You will write two examinations, Maintaining Financial Records and Managing Costs and Finance.

Graduate in library
You only need a matric certificate to apply for the ACCA Diploma in Financial and Management Accounting | Source: Unsplash


ACCA Diploma in Accounting and Business

This diploma course covers three subjects, Accounting in Business, Financial Accounting and Management Accounting.

Once you have written the examinations and been awarded the diploma, you will be eligible to study the ACCA Full Qualification Programme and you will be exempted from the first three exams in the programme.


Certified Accounting Technician

This qualification is ideal if you perform a Finance support role in an organisation. You will need to complete all of the subjects that make up the first three sections of the Foundations in Accounting qualification, as well as two electives. The electives you can choose between are the Foundation Certificate in Auditing, Foundation Certificate in Taxation and the Foundation Certificate in Financial Management.

You can complete this course in approximately two years and will be awarded the National Certificate: Certified Accounting Technician, once you've completed one year of relevant work experience.

You can gain the experience before, while studying, or after you complete your last exam. You can use the designation Certified Accounting Technician after you have met all of these requirements.

ACCA Full Qualification Programme

Professional values and accounting skills are focused on in this qualification. You can complete this Accounting program within three years, but will have to gain three years of practical experience before you are eligible to become a Member of The Association of Certified Chartered Accountants.

The subjects are divided into 3 sections; Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills, Strategic Professional: Essentials and two electives.

The Applied Knowledge section comprises three subjects and three exams: Accounting in Business, Management Accounting and Financial Accounting International.

The Applied Skills section includes six subjects and an examination on each: Corporate and Business Law, Performance Management, Taxation, Financial Reporting, Audit and Assurance and Financial Management.

Laptop screen showing financial report on revenue
Financial Reporting is one of the subjects covered in the Knowledge pillar of the qualification | Source: Unsplash

Strategic Business Reporting and Strategic Business Leader are covered and examined in the Strategic Professional Essentials section.

You then have to choose two electives from a list of four: Advanced Financial Management, Advanced Performance Management, Advanced Taxation - UK and Advanced Audit and Assurance.

The exams are all computer based, you can choose to do some of the exams on a date and at a time that suits your schedule, but other exams are session based and can only be completed at certain times of the year. You can only complete a maximum of four exams in one sitting and have to obtain a minimum of 50% in each exam in order to pass.

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Qualifications

CIMA offers two accounting qualifications, the CIMA Professional Qualification and the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting.

The Certificate in Business Accounting (CertBA) is a stand-alone qualification but can also be used as a stepping stone to the Professional Qualification. You do not need a prior qualification in order to register, only a good understanding of Maths and English. This qualification can take between twelve and eighteen months to complete.

The Professional Qualification is divided into three pillars, Enterprise,Performance and Financial, with three levels - Operational, Management and Strategic. You will complete a total of twelve exams: three case studies and nine objective tests. In order to register, you should either have completed the CertBA or a relevant qualification from an institute accredited by CIMA. This qualification will take between three and six years to complete.

Once both qualifications have been obtained and you qualify for membership, you will be awarded the the designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).

These are just a few of the options available for you to consider - you should choose the qualification you pursue based on the role you wish to fill. You can also investigate a tutor that will help to add more value to your study time.

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Kim is from Cape Town, South Africa. She enjoys reading and spending summer days on the beautiful blue flag beaches that the Western Cape is blessed with. She is currently working on getting her groove back.