How to Become an Accountant in Australia

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There is a huge demand for accountants in Australia. Some firms have job openings and no takers. This is one reason why rhe idea of being a chartered accountant in Australia has grabbed the attention of number-crunchers from around the globe. But you can't simply move to the land of Oz and set up shop. In Setember, 2007, some of the requirements were relaxed, but there are still some to fulfill.

Things You'll Need

  • Bachelor's or master's degree in accounting from an accredited Australian school (if you are Australian)
  • Assessment application (if you have a degree from a non-Australian school)
  • Completed graduate-study course for Australian accountants
  • Money to pay the exam fee (which can be hundreds of AU dollars)

For Native Australians

  • Get a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting, or a similar degree, from an accredited Australian school. One of the preferred "other" degrees is known as the GradDipCA (Graduate Diploma in Creative Arts). This takes at least four years.

  • Enroll and pass an accredited graduate course (called a tertiary course) allowed in about 50 Australian campuses. (Check with the particular campus and any of the national groups for Australian chartered accountants). This can take another few years.

  • Through your CPA organization, find out where and when the exams are being held. You can also gain work experience in an Australian chartered accountancy office that is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Legally, you can also take the exam if you have "a genuine interest in pursuing a career in the Chartered Accounting profession."

  • Take the exams, which are held twice a year and cost a few hundred Australian dollars. They are usually multiple-choice exams.

  • Join and maintain membership in one or more of the organizations of Australian accountants, such as the National Institute of Accountants in Australia, CPA Australia or Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.

  • You must meet minimum hour-per-year requirements working as an accountant in order to keep your certification and your organization membership.

  • Keep up with latest laws, software and continuing CPA education throughout your career. You never stop learning.

For Non-Native Australians

  • You must have at least a bachelor's degree, but it no longer has to be in Accounting or Business.

  • Contact CPA Australia for membership information before you immigrate. This is the organization Australia's Minister for Immigration and Citizenship prefers you to use. You must fill out their assessment application.

  • You must be assessed by CPA Australia. They will check to see if your bachelor's degree is equal to their bachelor's degrees.

  • If your degree is from a Chinese university, you must have that university's transcription department send confirmation of your attendance to CPA Australia.

  • If you have been accepted, you will receive written confirmation from CPA Austrailia. You must in turn send this document to the immigration office with your visa. You are now legally ready to set up shop in Australia.

  • If your application was denied, you must complete a CPA Australia-accredited course, take your exams and then reapply for membership.

  • Keep up with latest laws, programs and continuing education throughout your career.

Tips & Warnings

  • In Australia, CPA stands for "Certified Practising Accountant." as opposed to "Certified Public Accountant."
  • The International Qualifying Examination for CPAs is no longer a requirement for people who do not have a diploma from a school that is recognized by CPA Australia, but who still want to become a CPA in Australia.
  • If you pass the exams but don't secure a job as an accountant within the next two years, you will lose your eligibility to work as an accountant in Austrailia.
  • You need to be a member of one or more of Australia's three major CPA groups and maintain that group's standards of membership as well.

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  • Photo Credit Image of Sydney Harbour taken by Tony Nicholls
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