Becoming a student - FAQs

Have a question about becoming a Chartered Accountant? Please see the list of questions below and if you can't find the answer you're looking for you can Contact Us and we'll try our best to help you.

  1. What is a Chartered Accountant?
  2. What’s the difference between Chartered Accountancy and other accountancy qualifications?
  3. I’m not an accountancy, finance or business graduate – Is Chartered Accountancy an option for me?
  4. What is the Flexible Route and what is a Training Contract?
  5. Am I able to start the Chartered Accountancy programme?
  6. How do I apply for a place on the Chartered programme?
  7. What subjects are covered and what will I learn?
  8. How many examinations are there?
  9. Can I choose how many papers I sit and subjects I take?
  10. How many exam attempts am I allowed?
  11. Can I take any CAP 1 subjects with CAP 2?
  12. Where are the course locations?
  13. I don’t live near these locations – can I study online?
  14. What are the exam fees? Are there any other fees?
  15. Do I have to pay my fees in full when I enrol?
  16. How long will it take me to qualify?
  17. What’s the closing date to register?
  18. Can I do all my exams before gaining my experience?
  19. My current role can’t provide me with any accounting experience of the kind I’ll need to generate in order to qualify – any ideas?
  20. Can I get credit for prior work experience?
  21. 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.
  22. I’ve heard that for Chartered Accountants Ireland, you need a training contract. Do I have to enter into one?
  23. I would like to secure a training contract. How do I go about securing one?
  24. Do I need study leave to pass my exams?
  25. Is the Chartered Accountants Ireland qualification recognised internationally?
  26. Can I study from outside Ireland?
  1. 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.

     

  2. 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 25,000 members working in Ireland and across the globe. The differences between Chartered and other bodies are detailed on this page.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 amount of subjects / exams you take per year. There’s a time limit of 8 years to get everything finished.

    More information here.

     

  5. 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.

  6. 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 send in 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 posting in the relevant original exam transcripts from your degree course and applying online. For more about exemptions, click here.

  7. 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 of these subjects.

  8. How many examinations are there?

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

    CAP 1:
    Three full papers (Management Accounting, Finance, Financial Accounting)
    Two half papers (Law, Tax)

    CAP 2:
    Four full papers (Auditing & Assurance, Taxation II, SFMA, Financial Reporting)

    FAE:
    FAE Core (two papers), and FAE Elective (one paper)

  9. Can I choose how many papers I sit and subjects I take?

    Yes – our Flexible Route allows you to choose how many subjects you take and how many exams you sit per year. You can take subjects in pairs, or all together. For CAP 1 and CAP 2, there are two exam sittings per year, in early summer, and in autumn. You can either take all your papers in one sitting, or stagger them between the two sittings. Usually students in a Training Contract will take each required academic year in full.

  10. How many exam attempts am I allowed?

    There are a generous number of exam attempts allowed within an eight year period (the eight years begins the year of your enrolment):

    CAP 1  (3 years) (6 attempts) (Exams twice annually)
    CAP 2 (3 years) (6 attempts) (Exams twice annually)
    FAE (3 years)  (3 attempts)   (One initial sitting and one repeat sitting annually) 
  11. Can I take any CAP 1 subjects with CAP 2?

    Yes. Students have the option to take up to 1½ CAP 1 subjects with the first two subjects of CAP 2. This is available at the point of entry only, and is only applicable to students who are exempt from the other CAP 1 subjects.

  12. Where are the course locations?

    Each year, the courses will be delivered in the following locations:

    CAP 1: Belfast, Cork, Dublin, and Galway (CAP 1 Galway is distance only).
    CAP 2: Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford / Kilkenny.
    FAE: Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford / Kilkenny.

    Students enrolling on CAP 1 and CAP 2 in the Dublin centre may choose from three groups, each with a different timetable structure. Students do not have to sit the exams in the same location as their lectures or vice versa.

    Further details about course locations are available on the relevant timetables.

     

  13. I don’t live near these locations – can I study online?

    Yes. With our new Distance Learning option, our students can view lectures online from home, work, or anywhere you wish. You’ll have a full library of lectures available, broken into easily digestible sessions to help with revision.

    If you choose Distance Learning, we’ll ask you to attend periodic work-shops with tutors so you can discuss topics and pose questions, as well as prepare for your exams.

    Read the full Distance FAQ here.

     

  14. 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 text books, 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. Fees are priced per subject, and are detailed on the About Our Course page.

     

  15. 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.

  16. 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 exams, you are required to complete a period of recognised experience. The recognised experience requirement is three years for Masters in Accounting students, three-and-a-half years for graduates (of any discipline) and four years for Accounting Technicians Ireland graduates, but this can vary based on any prior work experience you may have. This period of recognised experience is comparable to other accountancy qualifications available.

     

  17. What’s the closing date to register?

    Usually our deadline is 1st 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.

  18. Can I do all my exams before gaining my experience?

    Yes, if you have spent at least four years in the workplace, in any kind of role. If you have less than four years’ work experience of any kind, then we’ll ask you to complete and record one year of recognised experience before sitting your FAE exams, meaning you can complete all of CAP 1 and CAP 2 before gaining any experience.

  19. My current role can’t provide me with any accounting experience of the kind I’ll need to generate in order to qualify – any ideas?

    That’s not a problem. The Flexible Route allows you to start your professional education, and then gain your relevant accounting experience at a later date. You don’t have to be working in an accountancy environment to enrol with us and start your exams.

    In order to qualify, you’ll need to record the same amount of practical experience as every other Chartered student. Chances are that once you start your Chartered studies you’re going to be an attractive prospect for employers and many students quickly migrate to accounting-related roles. These roles are not restricted to the finance industry either – there are Chartered trainees in IT, telecoms, manufacturing, retail, and engineering companies.

  20. Can I get credit for prior work experience?

    Yes, we will consider recognition of relevant prior work experience on a case by case basis. Naturally, certain conditions will apply and it will be necessary to detail your experience, and have it verified by your employer(s). It is important to note that prior experience must be comparable to the kind of experience that will be undertaken during your training.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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 ‘milkround’ 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 make contact with training firms in your area.

    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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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 25,000 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.

  26. Can I study from outside Ireland?

    Unfortunately not. All students of Chartered Accountants Ireland must be based on the island of Ireland and be able to attend lectures or classroom based revision. As well as this, you must be able to work on the island in order to gain your necessary work experience. All exams must also be taken here.

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