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Training Contract or Flexible Option?

The Chartered Accountants Ireland training model offers routes to the Chartered Accountancy qualification for Graduates, Non-Graduates and Accounting Technicians.

Important changes to Chartered Accountants Ireland’s training regulations introduced recently provide effective training alternatives for people from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and life stages, that will open new career possibilities.

Like any profession the path to qualification is not easy and requires a high level of dedication. But the rewards that qualified Irish Chartered Accountants generate in terms of career satisfaction, salaries and advancement, are remarkable.

The first decision you'll need to make will be whether to train in the context of a training contract with a Registered Training Organisation (often a large accountancy practice) or the flexible option route, the new route to the Chartered Accountancy qualification in Ireland, independent of a training contract.

What is the Training Contract?

Becoming a Chartered Accountant involves a combination of academic and professional training. The majority of students generate the required level of experience concurrently with their education, in the context of a Training Contract. For more information on what is entailed and how to apply, see the section on What Does Training Involve?

What is the Flexible Option Route?

The flexible option route describes all routes to the Chartered Accountancy qualification in Ireland independent of a Training Contract. It delivers the same standard of education as the traditional route via a training contract, but critically, the education and experience elements do not have to run concurrently.

As a student of the flexible option you will sit the same exams as other students and will have to meet the same experience requirements that pertain to others. With the flexible option you can gain recognition for prior work experience, avail of modular education and greater flexibility as to how you split out your exams and how your practical experience is gained. You must pass all exams and generate the required accounting experience within a time period of 8 years, but most candidates complete all requirements in a 3-4 year time frame.

For more information about the flexible option visit our dedicated website.

Entry Routes & Exemptions

People from varying educational backgrounds enter their training to become a Chartered Accountant.  Their point of entry into Chartered Accountancy studies will depend on their previous educational level achieved, see below:
A. Graduate
B. Post-graduate
C. School-leaver
D. Other Routes


A. The Graduate Route

The majority of students that enrol with the Institute are graduates from 3rd level institutions, comprising of business and non – business graduates alike.


Business Graduate Exemptions
The Institute recognises that business graduates already have a broad academic foundation for the further study required for professional examinations. The range of exemptions offered reflects the content and level of the qualification obtained, some qualifications gaining an entire exemption from CA Proficiency 1.


Non – Business Graduate Exemptions
Many Chartered Accountants have qualified in non-business related disciplines such as law, computer science, engineering, arts etc. The Institute encourages this, recognising that their diverse backgrounds bring an invaluable mix of skills and knowledge to the profession. The first examination for non-business graduates is CA Proficiency 1.

The programme leading to the CA Proficiency 1 examination, and especially the subject “Financial Accounting” assumes some prior knowledge of the subject. We therefore recommend that students participate in an introductory course in basic accounting.

B. Post-Graduates

Business Graduates

Full-time, one year, post-graduate Masters in Accounting for business graduates are offered in

  • Athlone Institute of Technology
  • Dublin City University
  • Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Letterkenny Institute of Technology
  • NUI Galway
  • NUI Maynooth
  • University College Cork
  • University College Dublin - Smurfit School
  • University of Ulster at Jordanstown
  • Waterford Institute of Technology

Students who have met the CAP1 requirement and successfully meet the criteria on these courses are exempt from the entirety of CA Proficiency 2 and join the Institute having completed all but the Final Admitting Examination.


Non – Business Graduates

Full time, one year post-graduate Diploma programmes are available for non- business graduates. These are offered at

  • Dublin City University
  • Dublin Institute of Technology (Aungier St)
  • Galway Mayo Institute of Technology
  • National University of Ireland, Maynooth
  • University of Ulster at Jordanstown
  • Waterford Insitute of Technology

Students who successfully complete these programmes and meet the agreed exemption criteria are exempt from the entirety of CA Proficiency 1.  Exemptions are awarded on an all or nothing basis.

Details of these post-graduate courses can be obtained from the Dept of Accounting / Finance at the respective bodies.


C. School-leaver / Direct Entry Route

School Leavers who have obtained 360 points in their Leaving Certificate out of 6 subjects (must include English and Mathematics at Higher Level grade D or better, or Ordinary Level grade C or better) OR 3 GCE Advanced Level subjects at a grade C or better with GCSE Ordinary Level English and Mathematics at grade B or better, who go onto secure a merit pass in the Accounting Technicians Ireland 1st year examination, are eligible to progress to the Chartered Accountants Ireland CA Proficiency 1 Examination. Students register with Accounting Technicians Ireland and Chartered Accountants lreland at the same time.

D. Other Entry Routes

Prospective students who do not fall into any of the above entry routes are typically:

  • Holders of other professional qualifications e.g. Accounting Technicians Ireland
  • Mature Students
  • Holders of HETAC / NVQ or equivalent awards

The procedure for such students is broadly similar to that for graduates. There is, however, no automatic entitlement to exemptions. Students must obtain a formal letter from the Institute setting out the conditions under which it will permit entry.

The length of your training contract will depend on how you enter the system: 

Entry Level Length of Contract
Graduate 3.5 years
Post Graduate 3 years
School leaver – (Direct Entry) 4 years
Other eg. Accounting Technician graduate 4 years

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