Chartered Accountants Ireland - FAQ

Last updated: 22 Jun 2023, 13:22

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What is a Chartered Accountant?

Chartered Accountants are Ireland’s leading business professionals who provide essential strategic guidance across all business sectors. They play a pivotal role in modern organisations; as a result, they are seen as the most respected members of the accountancy profession.
Today’s Chartered Accountant typically works in a dynamic global environment, in roles as diverse as corporate leadership, management accountant, business analyst or sales management.
Chartered Accountants (ACAs) are members of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

What’s the difference between Chartered Accountancy and other accountancy qualifications?

Chartered Accountants Ireland is the largest and most influential accountancy body in Ireland, with 28,500 members working in Ireland and across the globe. The differences between Chartered and other bodies are detailed on this page.

I’m not an accountancy, finance or business graduate – Is Chartered Accountancy an option for me?

Yes, you don’t need any previous accountancy knowledge as we’ll start from the beginning with the basics. Each year a significant number of new students join us from a wide range of disciplines (arts, science, IT, law etc.) and consistently do very well in exams.
Training firms in practice and industry are always keen to interview such candidates as they bring diverse skills and knowledge to their training firms and studies. The starting point for non-business graduates is CAP 1 which provides the essential building blocks for more advanced study levels.

What is the Flexible Route and what is a Training Contract?

We have two entry routes into our programme. The Training Contract features a 3.5 contract with a firm or company who will provide you with all the experience you need and pay your exam fees, and in practice you’ll receive study leave. You’ll start your studies and your training at the same time and finish everything within the timeframe of the contract.
The Flexible Route does not involve a Training Contract, and while you’ll be taking the same exams and will be required to complete the same amount of work experience, you have more flexibility on the timeframe and number of subjects / exams you take per year. There’s a time limit of 8 years to get everything finished. You can find out more on the entry routes page.

Am I able to start the Chartered Accountancy programme?

If you’re a graduate, post-graduate, Accounting Technician, or member of another accountancy body, you can start the Chartered programme. Graduates and members of bodies from outside Ireland are also welcome to join – once you fulfil the entry requirements. You must be based on the island of Ireland for the duration of the programme.

How do I apply for a place on the Chartered programme?

To apply for your place on the programme, we’ll ask you to set up an account on our website, where you’ll gain access to the online application process. To support your application, all you have to do is submit original documents that confirm you are a degree / Accounting Technicians graduate. All degree holders are eligible to enrol and you don’t need a business or accounting background.

If you want to check exemptions, you can do this by applying online. You will receive an email with next steps once you submit the online application. If you do not receive the email, please contact Find out more about exemptions.

What subjects are covered and what will I learn?

As well as your practical work experience, you’ll be studying to achieve your CAP 1, CAP 2 and FAE exams. The current syllabus is listed on the About Our Course page. Remember, you may already have covered some of this material in your prior studies and may be entitled to some exemptions. This means you may not need to study all these subjects.

How many examinations are there?

This will depend on your exemptions. There is one exam paper per subject taken:

  • CAP 1: Four full papers (Management Accounting, Finance, Financial Accounting, Taxation). One half paper (Law)
  • CAP 2: Four full papers (Auditing & Assurance, Taxation II, SFMA, Financial Reporting)
  • FAE: FAE Core (one paper) and FAE Elective (one paper)

Where are the course locations?

Our course runs, thanks to its online only format, across the island of Ireland. We run regional variants of the course programme based on where you are based in the country. Please register to the ROI or NI variant as appropriate. Timetables will be available on the student portal closer to the course commencement date.

What are the exam fees? Are there any other fees?

Chartered Accountants Ireland has a single fee structure that covers all costs associated with your education. The single fee provides for all textbooks, course notes, toolkits, course materials, and access to online education resources. Fees are paid by training firms as part of the Training Contract.
When paying your fees, you simply pay for what subjects you are taking that year.

Do I have to pay my fees in full when I enrol?

Not necessarily. Flexible Route students can avail of our instalment payment plan, which takes your annual fee and divides it into three payments, spread over the year. These are interest free payments, and the plan is available to anyone funding the programme themselves. When you are enrolling, you’ll have the chance to choose the instalment payment programme, or to pay in full.

How long will it take me to qualify?

This will vary from student to student. There are three academic years, but it is possible to complete exams in one to two years, depending on your exemptions. As well as passing the Institute's exams, you are required to complete a period of recognised experience for Qualification (REQ).

As a prerequisite for membership, all students joining the Institute are required to maintain evidence of their learning to ensure they have acquired the necessary breadth and range of competencies. Such periods of professional development are maintained on the on-line CA Diary of Professional Development and it is the Diary format that is used to assess an application for recognition of prior work experience. The REQ period is determined by your educational background.

What’s the closing date to register?

Usually, our deadline is mid-September. Classes begin early October each year so you should aim to get enrolled before that date to ensure you receive all your course materials in time.

I’ve heard that studying Chartered Accountancy is all about audit but I don’t work in audit, and I don’t see my future career involving audit.

That’s no problem. While students will need to exhibit experience across financial reporting and regular exposure to books of accounts, there is no specific requirement to generate audit experience. Students outside of a practicing firm will not be working in audit, and they won’t be required to do so either.

Many of our members often remark that an ability to understand audit and speak as an equal with external auditors sets them apart in the profession and has given them a real competitive edge. On that basis, you’ll have exposure to audit through your education, and you can choose the audit elective in your FAE.

I’ve heard that for Chartered Accountants Ireland, you need a training contract. Do I have to enter into one?

You don’t have to enter into a training contract and there is no training contract for students under our Flexible Route. You need to get the same amount and type of experience as all Chartered Accountancy students, but you are free to choose your employer and job sector and modify these as your circumstances change. Your experience does not have to be continuous, and you can gain your experience in more than one company.

I would like to secure a training contract. How do I go about securing one?

If you’re a student, contact your college careers advisors for more information on the next ‘milk round’ dates or visit the firms’ websites. Many smaller practices in your area may offer training contract places and will provide an excellent, rounded training environment.
Check out the full list of authorised training firms and contact training firms in your area. In addition, visit our Training Vacancies page to view current vacancies.

Some companies in industry offer training contracts, though most prefer the Flexible Route. To gain a training contract in industry, contact companies directly or use jobs sites or recruitment agencies that specialise in placing accountancy trainees. It is essential to be aware of our training contract regulations when accepting a training contract offer/transferring your training contract. For information on such regulations, please view our recruitment to and transferring of training contracts page.

Do I need study leave to pass my exams?

While students in a practicing firm who are in a Training Contract will receive block study leave, other students (in Industry or the Flexible Route) generally do not. Study leave is only given in blocks in Practice to suit the model of their training programmes.

Students in other routes are usually able to study throughout the year and perform very well in their exams – in fact, some of the top performing students each year are Industry students who wouldn’t have received block study leave.

Is the Chartered Accountants Ireland qualification recognised internationally?

Yes – as a Chartered Accountant you’ll enjoy international career prospects in every financial global hub –3,500 of our 28,500 members are working outside Ireland.
The Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) we enjoy with other Chartered bodies around the world gives our members unparalleled global mobility upon qualification.

Can I study from outside Ireland?

The programme is designed to allow students to qualify as members of Chartered Accountants Ireland. In order to qualify students will be required to secure the Required Experience for Qualification and this must be secured on the island of Ireland.

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