ACCA vs. CPA AUSTRALIA | Salaries, Career & More

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ACCA vs. CPA AUSTRALIA | Salaries, Career & More


All businesses need accounting professionals as they act as the backbone of an organization. Thus, it comes as no surprise that accountants are generally always in demand. The business world is also growing rapidly, as is the demand for accounting professionals. Because of this ever-rising demand for accountants, many commerce students want to start their careers in accounting. However, these commerce students often get confused when choosing from “ACCA vs. CPA Australia” certification courses.

“ACCA vs. CPA Australia” are two of the most prominent accounting certifications. Both certifications provide you with extensive and in-depth knowledge of accounting and finance. These certification courses are highly qualified designations for commerce students/finance professionals looking to make a career in accounting.

Obviously, plenty of questions come into mind when you think about choosing between the ACCA and CPA Australia. Is ACCA better than the CPA course? Who earns more: ACCA vs. CPA Australia? Can I do both? What is the difference between the two qualifications? 

Worry not! We will answer all your questions. In this article, we will discuss every aspect of these two certification courses and will try to find out which certification is best for you to pursue.

So, let’s get started. 

What is ACCA?

ACCA stands for Association of Certified Chartered Accountants. It is one of the leading professional accountancy certifications for aspiring financial professionals. This certification is offered by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), one of the largest international accounting bodies.

The ACCA certification provides the candidate with all the required skills and knowledge to have a successful career in the finance domain. Because of the vast knowledge and skill possessed by the ACCA holders, the ACCA certification is well respected worldwide. As an ACCA, you can work as a finance professional nearly anywhere in the world while fetching a good enough salary. Thus, many commerce students are looking to pursue the ACCA certification.

What is CPA Australia?

CPA Australia is short for Certified Practising Accountant Australia. CPA Australia is a professional qualification for finance, accounting, and business professionals. Getting the CPA qualification is a mark of high professional competence in accountancy.

The CPA program provides the candidates with an in-depth knowledge of accountancy. Due to their vast knowledge, CPA-certified professionals are highly respected by various employers and other accounting professionals worldwide. With this internationally recognized qualification, you can easily find many job opportunities in foreign countries of your choice.

ACCA vs. CPA Australia Differences:

Although both the ACCA and CPA Australia are accounting qualifications, they are still quite different in their approach, syllabus, and job prospects. Let’s discuss some of the key differences between the ACCA vs. CPA Australia programs –

  1. The ACCA requires a maximum of 2 years of relevant work experience, whereas the CPA Australia requires you to accumulate three years of full-time work experience.
  2. The main difference between ACCA vs. CPA Australia is that the former is considered more as an International qualification, while the latter is considered an Australia-specific credential.
  3. ACCA can have up to 13 papers for you to pass, while CPA Australia has six papers. However, the average cost per paper for the CPA exam is higher.
  4. Although the ACCA certification program is quite flexible, you may need to spend over two years completing the course. On the other hand, the CPA Australia course can be completed as soon as one year.

Can an ACCA become CPA Australia?

Short answer, yes. As a current member of the ACCA, you can apply for CPA Australia credentials. If you have successfully completed all ACCA exams and Practical Experience Requirements (PER), then you may also be able to get some exemption in the CPA Australia exams. The exemption for the CPA Australia Program will be processed case by case, and you need to provide your completion status in ACCA.

Moreover, if you have maintained your affiliate membership with ACCA for a minimum of five consecutive years without any investigation for professional conduct infringements, then you may be able to directly apply for the CPA Australia credentials.

CPA Australia – Course Details, Syllabus, Exams

The CPA Australia is a semester-wise program. There are two semesters per year; you can complete up to 3 papers/subjects in each semester. On registration of the subjects, the candidates are provided with all the required study material.

The Whole CPA Australia course has a maximum of 6 papers. Of these, 4 are compulsory subjects/papers and two elective subjects. These subjects are submitted over a single semester, with an exam at the end of each semester.

Compulsory exams

You must have to take and ace the following four subjects – 

  1. Ethics and Governance
  2. Strategic Management Accounting
  3. Financial Reporting
  4. Global Strategy and Leadership

Elective Subjects

If you have completed recognized studies in tax and auditing, then you are free to choose any two of the following subjects – 

  1. Advance Audit and Assurance
  2. Contemporary Business Issues
  3. Financial Risk Management
  4. Digital Finance
  5. Australia Taxation
  6. Financial Management Fundamentals
  7. Advanced Taxation
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ACCA – Course Details, Syllabus, Exams

The ACCA course covers every aspect of accountancy, such as Accounting, Financial Reporting, Auditing, Taxation, Financial Management, and Business Finance.

You may have to attempt and pass up to 13 papers to complete the ACCA course. These 13 papers are divided into three levels – Knowledge, Skill, and Professional. The ACCA knowledge exams are on demand, so you can take them at any time of the year.

However, the Skill and Professional level exams are conducted every March, June, September, and December.

Following are all the exams in the ACCA course – 

Applied Knowledge Level

  • Accountant in Business (AB)
  • Management Accounting (MA)
  • Financial Accounting (FA)

Applied Skill Level

  • Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  • Performance Management (PM)
  • Taxation (TX)
  • Financial Reporting (FR)
  • Audit and Assurance (AA)
  • Financial Management (FM)

Strategic Professional Level 


  • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  • Strategic Business Leader (SBL)

Optional (2 required of 4)

  • Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
  • Advanced Performance Management (APM)
  • Advanced Taxation (ATX)
  • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)

ACCA vs. CPA Australia Exemptions

If you have the required qualification, you can claim many exemptions in both the ACCA vs. CPA Australia qualifications. In the ACCA program, there are a total of 13 main exams. Out of which, you can claim exemptions for nine exams depending on your previous qualification.

On the other hand, the CPA exam has 4 key exams and 2 elective papers. You can claim an exemption for all these exams if you have maintained the ACCA qualification for more than five years without any investigation for professional conduct infringements.


ACCA vs. CPA Australia
Particulars ACCA CPA Australia
Full Form Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Certified Practising Accountant Australia
Job Roles Financial AccountantManagement AccountantCorporate TreasurerFinancial ControllerFinance Manager Corporate ControllerPublic AccountingTax ExaminerBusiness System AnalystForensic Services
Duration 6 to 24 months (depending on the various exemptions) Usually 1 year. In some cases, it can take up to 2 years.
Work Experience  1 to 2 years of relevant work experience 3 years of full-time relevant work experience
Recognition ACCA qualification is recognized in well over 180 countries. The reach for CPA Australia is somewhat limited to Australia.
Average salary (worldwide) $20,000 per annum $35000 per annum
Number of papers 13 papers at most  6 papers in total

Why pursue ACCA?

There are many reasons to pursue the ACCA certification between the ACCA vs. CPA Australia. Some of those reasons are – 

  1. ACCA qualification is a well-recognized credential in accountancy all around the world. Thus, you will be able to work in any part of the world if you ace all the required exams of the ACCA course.
  2. Many employers all around the world are looking for candidates with ACCA certification. Adding the ACCA credential to your resume may provide you with the required edge over non-ACCA candidates to get your dream job in finance.
  3. Flexibility- One of the many reasons why many aspiring finance professionals are looking to pursue the ACCA qualification is its flexibility. The whole ACCA program is quite flexible for candidates. After the registration, you get the next ten years to ace all the required exams.
  4. Low barrier to this certification- You can start the ACCA certification course right after your 12th standard examination.

Why Pursue CPA Australia?

CPA Australia is also a well-recognized credential. Therefore, if you want to work in the field of accountancy in Australia, a CPA Australia credential is a must-have. Here are some of the reasons; why you should pursue the CPA Australia program above other professional courses.

  1. CPA Australia is also an Internationally recognized qualification. However, its reach is somewhat limited to the Australian continent. 
  2. You have completed only six examinations to become a CPA in Australia. You can easily complete all 6 of these exams in a single year.
  3. The CPA program by CPA Australia is also quite flexible for students. You can also join the program even if you do not possess any academic degree in accountancy.
  4. When you enroll in the subjects in the CPA Australia course, you are provided with all the required study material and online support to help in your exam preparation.


What does a CPA do in Australia?

The CPA Australia qualification is an internationally recognized credential in accounting. As a CPA in Australia, you have access to countless job opportunities at some of the biggest companies all around the world.

CPAs usually work as financial or management accountants in Australia. However, CPAs are not limited to only the job profile of an accountant. As a CPA, you will also be able to work as a financial manager, financial analyst, tax advisor, financial controller, business operation manager, etc.

How much is CPA paid in Australia?

CPA qualification is a well-recognized professional certification that can lead you to many high-paying job opportunities. The ever-increasing demand for CPAs is also responsible for driving the salaries for CPAs high. As per the reports, there is a huge, unmet demand for talented CPA professionals in Australia.

According to the data by payscale, the average salary paid to a CPA professional in Australia hovers around the mark of AUD 70,000. However, it tends to vary significantly as per your experience and job profile. 

How long is a CPA course in Australia?

Generally, you can complete the whole CPA course in Australia in almost one year. However, if you are from a non-commerce background, you must take the CPA foundation program first, which takes an additional year to complete. Thus, You can complete the CPA course in Australia in a little less than two years.

But to become a full-fledged CPA professional in Australia, you also have to acquire at least 36 months of full-time, or the equivalent of part-time work, relevant work experience. You can gain this work experience before, during, or after your study.

Can I do CPA Australia from India?

Yes, you can do the CPA Australia course in India. CPA Australia has several options for candidates to study from across the world. You can apply for the CPA course from their official website “”

You may need to undertake the CPA foundation course before actually pursuing the CPA course to prove that you have the competencies required to begin the CPA Program.

Is studying for CPA hard?

Hard or easy, it depends on your preparation for the exam. If you have prepared well for the exam and if you are able to understand the concepts of topics, then the exam will feel much easier. Surely, exams for such prestigious professional certifications are difficult and time-consuming. However, with proper preparation, then you can crack any exam. Just be positive.

Can you become a CPA in 2 years?

Yes, you can complete the entire course of CPA Australia in less than two years. If you do not have to take the CPA foundation program first, you can complete the CPA course in around one year. But remember that you also have to gain three years of relevant work experience. So, the CPA Australia course may consume more time than two years if you do not possess any work experience.

Can I take CPA without an accounting degree?

Yes, you can gain CPA Australia credentials in accounting without an academic accounting degree. CPA Australia provides candidates with many options to become a CPA without academic qualifications.

The candidates just have to undertake the CPA foundation program before actually pursuing the CPA course, which is a one-year-long program. Passing the CPA foundation program proves that you have the competencies required to begin the CPA Program.

Can a CPA Australia get PR?

If you have aced the CPA Australia exam and have acquired over three years of relevant full-time work experience, then you can surely apply for the Australian PR visa. You can apply for an Australian PR visa as a Chartered Accountant under the Subclass 189 Visa or Skilled Independent visa, Subclass 190, or Skilled Nominated visa.


Hopefully, this information piece has helped you in deciding which certification course you want to pursue, ACCA vs. CPA Australia. If you still have questions left in your mind, feel free to contact us.

We at NorthStar Academy have helped many students to build flourishing careers in the field of accounting. If you need help in the preparation, you can join our ACCA certification course. Our prep course for the ACCA is highly organized and comprehensive, covering every corner of the syllabus. In addition, NSA has highly experienced mentors that have helped thousands of students become accounting professionals and join their dream jobs and company.

You can contact us here if you have any doubts regarding our courses.

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