Experience requirements

While you do not need any prior experience to start the Chartered programme, in order to qualify as a Chartered Accountant you’ll need experience in an environment relevant to the work of a professional accountant.

Why do I need to generate accountancy experience when I’m taking exams?

Accountants draw upon a unique set of skills in the workplace – both theoretical and practical. In order to qualify as a Chartered Accountant, students must demonstrate their ability in a practical setting. Our method of practical training is competency-based, meaning students will demonstrate their abilities through the completion of tasks. Your training therefore will be outcome-based, rather than “time spent”.

Training Contract Vs Flexible Route

The key difference between the Flexible Route and Training Contract is the manner in which experience is gained. If you are in a Training Contract, all the experience will be completed within a defined timeframe. Your training firm or company will be required to provide you with relevant experience to qualify.

Alternatively, the Flexible Route allows you to:

  • Choose the environment in which you wish to gain your experience (practice or industry)
  • Move between employers as your interest, needs and circumstances change
  • Take breaks from your studies and experience
  • Complete all your examinations before gaining recognised experience
  • Flexible training can be non-consecutive, meaning that if you do take breaks between roles, you can simply pick up where you left off

What’s involved?

During your period of recognised experience, you must demonstrate:

  • That you have acquired competencies in Financial Accounting
  • Professional values
  • An awareness of your business environment
  • Skills in information systems and IT

Personal and interpersonal skills are important in the workplace. As part of your training, you must also demonstrate the development of these skills, together with in-depth experience in one of the following key areas: Finance, Taxation, Auditing, Organisational/Strategic Business Management and Information Technology. This is required by Chartered Accountants Ireland at the point of your admission to membership.

How much experience is required?

The amount of experience required is dependent on educational background:

  • Accredited Masters in Accounting: 3 years
  • Undergraduate degree: 3.5 years
  • Accounting Technician qualification: 4 years

It’s possible to claim credit for prior relevant experience up to a maximum of 18 months. Students seeking such recognition should submit details of their prior experience within three months of enrolling as a student.

All the experience you gain is recorded in an online tool called the CA Diary, which enables you to track your progress and highlights which areas you need to focus on. This diary is then approved and signed off by a qualified accountant who can oversee your experience. We call these accountants "mentors". Mentors are required for students in both the Training Contract and Flexible Route options.

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