Accounting and finance are often the top majors of many undergraduate students. Why? Because employment in this field is broad.
But in a world with so many accountants available, how do you know if you are able to compete with them in the job market?
The answer is simple: You need an ACCA qualification.
What is ACCA?
ACCA stands for Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. It is a global organisation for professionals in accounting and finance.
To date, this organisation has more than 233,000 members and 500,000 students in 178 countries around the world.
This certificate represents reliable business capabilities and knowledge in accounting and finance. Professionals who have ACCA certification are sought after by large companies.
ACCA is also recognised by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN). If you are interested in working abroad, ACCA is the stepping stone for you.
What are the benefits of getting ACCA certificate?
With ACCA, you have a better chance to boost your career growth compared to other accounting graduates without. The following are some of the benefits you can get by taking ACCA:
1. International recognition
ACCA has members in many parts of the world and is recognised in various countries. If you choose to take ACCA, you will become part of a worldwide network of accounting and finance professionals.
Additionally, it can be the highlight of your application if you plan to work abroad.
2. Employment in renowned companies
Global accounting firms and companies are on the constant lookout for professionals with ACCA certification. This is because ACCA certification holders are known for their strategic thinking and various technical skills that are valued by large companies. To date, ACCA works with more than 7,400 companies in the world.
In addition, ACCA also provides an ACCA Careers Job Board that you can use for your job search.
3. Affordable education
Due to the vast network of ACCA learning partners, you can choose whether to study full-time or part-time, and offline or online. With this flexibility, you can easily find an ACCA path that suits your budget and lifestyle.
4. Flexibility to choose your own path
ACCA holds exam sessions at every quarter of the year. However, you can also sit for the exam at your request so that you can progress at your own pace. You also have the opportunity to specialise in your chosen field.
5. Get the support you need
ACCA provides 24-hour support services and you can access resources and materials they have meticulously prepared. If English is not your first language, they even offer additional support through their training partner, BPP, who will provide you with the assistance you need for your exams.
6. Expand your international network
You can build a strong professional network in today's fast-moving business world with ACCA. When you join ACCA, you will join the global network with more than 200,000 members, connecting you with thousands of financial professionals around the world.
What makes ACCA different from an accounting degree?
Confused what is the difference between ACCA and ordinary accounting degrees? Here's how to tell them apart:
1. ACCA is a certification, not a university degree
You get an Accounting degree through university education (Bachelor's degree), but ACCA is a certification for professional accountants.
2. Subjects are different
Accounting degree allows you to choose what you want to learn. You can combine certain subjects that include other specialisations like auditing, finance, taxation, and electives that are related to business, marketing, to name a few.
Meanwhile, ACCA is only focused on accounting. ACCA lessons emphasise accounting techniques that you might not get in college because they are usually more detailed and are specifically for professionals.
3. ACCA is more difficult than accounting
Because ACCA is more aimed at accounting professionals, ACCA lessons are arguably more difficult than accounting degrees. With all the fundamentals and in-depth subjects about accounting, you should expect your ACCA journey to become increasingly difficult before you can pass the papers.
4. ACCA is faster than college
If you want start working soon, ACCA is the fastest route for you. You just need to complete a Foundation in Accounting, and you can immediately take ACCA after that.
5. ACCA is cheaper than college
ACCA is a cheaper option compared to an accounting degree. Not only that, but you can also get a ACCA qualification without going through any college or university. This will further reduce your costs because you only pay the registration, examination and navigation fees rather than university fees.
What are the ACCA entry requirements?
The requirements for ACCA qualification abroad are:
- 2 principal passes at STPM (grade C or above), plus 3 credits at SPM (grade C or above or grades 1-6) (in 5 separate subjects, including English and Mathematics)
- Matriculation Certificate with minimum CGPA of 2.50, including Mathematics and English.
- ATAR of at least 70 and 5 credits (grade C or above) SPM (in five separate subjects including Mathematics & English)
- Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), 5 subjects with grade B (including English and Maths)
- 2 passes at GCE A-Level and 3 passes at GCE O Level in five separate subjects including Mathematics & English
- 3 LCCI Higher passes/A levels/STPM and 2 LCCI Intermediate Level passes/O level/SPM (in five separate subjects including Mathematics & English)
- CAT qualification with 5 credits in SPM including English and Mathematics
What is the ACCA exam structure?
Image source: Andy Barbour, Pexels
The ACCA exam itself is divided into three parts:
- ACCA exam
- Ethics and Professional Skills module
- Professional Experience Requirements
These three elements consist of 13 tests in English and require relevant work experience. As mentioned before, you can take the exam whenever you want. ACCA gives you up to 10 years to complete all your exams.
The ACCA exam is the first step to get an ACCA certification. The test itself is divided into three broad categories:
The Applied Knowledge exam introduces you to the world of finance and develops techniques and fundamental theories in accounting.
- Accountant in Business
- Financial Accounting
- Management Accounting
The Applied Skills exam builds your accounting and finance skills based on the theory you learn in Applied Knowledge. This is a major skill required in all professional accountants. The test consists of:
- Corporate and Business Law
- Performance Management
- Audit and Assurance
- Financial Reporting
- Financial Management
The Strategic Professional exam prepares you to be a leader in the accounting world. Through this exam, you will learn how to strategise based on technical and ethical theory and professional skills. You can also consider a specialist pathway at this stage. Each student must take the Essentials test and choose two from the Options exam:
- Strategic Business Leader
- Strategic Business Reporting
- Advanced Financial Management
- Advanced Audit and Assurance
- Advanced Performance Management
- Advanced Taxation
Ethics and Professional Skills Module
Through this module, you will learn a variety of skills that are needed by companies.
By introducing you to ethical and professional skills and showing you the various situations that are common in the business world, ACCA equips you with skills that are not widely taught at the educational level. This will certainly be a plus for your job search.
Professional experience requirements
To be a confident and trustworthy account, you need work experience. Therefore, ACCA requires each participant to have work experience. Participants must complete 36 months of work.
These experience requirements allow students to practice their skills and knowledge obtained from ACCA lessons on the actual work environment.
Where to study ACCA abroad?
There are many institutions abroad that offer ACCA courses. If you’re interested to complete your ACCA courses overseas, below are some of the best institutions that offer ACCA programme:
Looking for something even more affordable? Study in Malaysia instead! Here are some articles and guides to get you started: