Entry routes

How do I qualify as a Chartered Accountant?

Chartered Accountants secure their qualification through a combination of professional exams and practical accounting experience. We offer a range of training routes that provide choice and flexibility to graduates, non-graduates, Accounting Technicians and experienced professionals.

Your starting point with us will depend on your prior educational qualifications. You can train via the Flexible Route or via a Training Contract. Read on for more information about these different routes.

Training routes explained

Entry Routes

Option 1: Flexible Route

Chartered Accountants often occupy leadership positions in top Irish companies. It’s a common misconception that Chartered training is all about getting a contract in an accountancy practice. In fact, over 1,000 of our Chartered students are now training in business, financial services, public sector, retail and more. Whether you’re already in employment or looking at a graduate entry programme in business, you can join us through our Flexible Route.

Most people working in business and looking for an outstanding qualification will choose our Flexible Route.

If you take our Flexible Route  you can stay in your job, study on your own terms and generate the relevant accountancy experience now or further down the line. If you’re not working in a finance role right now, that’s fine. You can begin your studies with us and use the Chartered Accountancy qualification as a stepping stone in your career.

The track record of our students shows that as soon as you start studying with us, employers will notice you. Once you’ve generated and recorded your relevant accountancy experience, you’ll have exactly the same qualification as someone who qualified in a training contract in practice. You’ll take the same subjects, sit the same exams but critically, the education and experience elements do not have to run concurrently.

The benefits of the Flexible Route

  • No training contract required (you can however transfer into a contract at any stage).
  • Flexibility: you can sit two subjects at a time up to and including the CAP2 exams.
  • Modular education: you can take all the year’s exams together, or alternatively, spread them out over different sittings, even consecutive years.
  • Experience requirements: trainees on the Flexible Route are required to obtain the same amount of relevant experience that applies to every student: three years for accredited masters or postgraduate students, three-and-a-half years for graduates, four years for Accounting Technicians
  • Recognition of prior work experience: prior professional work experience can be recognised to reduce the stipulated experience requirements, up to a maximum of 18 months.
  • Time to complete: with the Flexible Route, you have a period of eight years to complete your studies and gain the relevant experience to qualify.
  • Audit or tax are not compulsory: if you wish to become audit certified at a later stage, you must fulfill the requirements at that point.
  • Mentors: your mentor can be any recognised qualified accountant.

Who is the Flexible Route suited to?

If you are working in business, a graduate, postgraduate, school leaver or Accounting Technicians Ireland graduate, this route is open to you. While you don't need prior experience to start, if you are just finished college or you’ve been working for less than four years (in any role), we'll ask you to generate at least one year of relevant accountancy experience before sitting your final exams (FAE).

Option 2: Training Contract

Our Training Contract option is the most popular route to the Chartered qualification. Most people who enter this route do so via an accountancy practice, we also have students in Training Contracts in a business role. The student in contract will remain with their training organisation for a defined time period (for graduates, the duration of a contract is three-and-a-half years; for recognised masters or postgraduates, three years; Accounting Technicians, four years).

Training Contracts are unique to Chartered Accountants Ireland - no other accountancy body provides the same structured, supportive framework for students to gain their qualification.

Who is a Training Contract suited to?

To apply for a Training Contract candidates would do this directly, with the hiring firms or employer. College graduates will generally secure a Training Contract while they are still at college during the milkrounds. Contracts will be available in small, medium and large firms, and in business (what we call "Industry").

Accountancy and finance graduates who secure exemptions will usually have a head start when applying for Training Contract positions. We also know that firms and employers are taking on more trainees from other backgrounds, but it usually depends on the employers preference. 

The benefits of a Training Contract:

  • All education and exam fees paid for by the training firm / business.
  • Study and exam leave provided (in practice only).
  • Exposure to quality, professional accountancy experience.
  • Mentored by a Chartered Accountant who will sign off the training experience.
  • Salary that increases in line with exam progression (in practice).
  • Strong foundation in skills such as audit, tax, or financial services for careers in either practice or industry.

Where do I get a training contract?

Training contracts are provided to students of Chartered Accountancy in accountancy firms (practice) or companies (Industry). It's up to the student to secure their contract by getting in touch with a training firm or company, and to support this we've provided a list of training vacancies. This is a great place to start looking for a contract, and if you still aren't able to secure one in advance of the course start date, you can still enrol into our Flexible Route. Have a look at our entry routes page for more details.

Click the button below to access the training vacancies page. 

Where do I start?

Checking your starting point is one of the most important steps you can take when it comes to deciding to study Chartered Accountancy. If you think you are in line for exemptions, you can first check this using our handy online exemptions guide. When you're ready, you can start our free exemptions application process using the button below. You should also choose this step if you are not expecting any exemptions, and would like to apply to start our course at the beginning.

Have a query?

If you have a query, please refer to our support & services page and contact the relevant department with your query.

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