Accounting is a world of acronyms. CA, CGA, CMA, CPA, what do they all mean? Jibe Accounting is here to help you understand ASAP, OK?

As of January of 2013, Chartered Accountants (“CAs”) adopted the Chartered Professional Accountant (“CPA”) designation. The three accounting bodies in Canada, CA, Certified Management Accountants (“CMAs”), and Certified General Accountants (“CGAs”) all merged to become CPAs. In terms of titles, there are some similarities and some differences. Chartered Accountants are still referred to as CAs, or CPAs, but CMAs and CGAs must title themselves CGA-CPA and CMA-CPA. This allows for public and industry to determine the level of training and certification their advisory professional has completed.

To become a CA, one must hold an undergraduate degree plus industry experience and, in some provinces, additional training. All CA candidates must pass the three-day Uniform Evaluation, or “UFE.” If you have ever been in the company of CAs, you will have likely heard this term as it is considered one of the most challenging exams in North America! Preparation takes years and to pass the UFE is a great achievement. CAs must article within industry as part of their designation, often working long, grueling hours. The certification and education process to become a CA is by far the most comprehensive of the accounting designations. CAs have a better chance of climbing the corporate ladder because they can perform all levels of accounting duties, and CAs can work in a wide range of fields, including business, finance, and public practice.

To become a CGA, one must also complete certain levels of education and experience. A CGA’s professional education program is competency-based, with CGA candidates performing tasks and roles expected of them within industry. A CGA candidate must also complete an undergraduate degree, though not necessarily in commerce. CGAs, like CMAs, will be more limited in the jobs they can have, due to the comprehensiveness of their education programs. CGAs can work in finance, government, and public practice, among other industries. In some provinces, CGAs are limited in their auditing practices.

To become a CMA, one must also hold a Bachelor’s degree. They must complete 30 hours of CPE credits, and maintain a yearly membership with the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants). CMAs must be creative, as they may be expected to complete managerial financial duties and devise solutions to a wide variety of problems. CMAs may apply for a strategic leadership program upon completion of their credential. In some provinces, CMAs may not license public accountants, while CAs and CGAs can. While CMAs can perform a broader variety of accounting jobs than CGAs, they are still more limited in their options than a CA.

Jibe Accounting hope the above explanation has helped you to differentiate between the levels of expertise and competency between accounting designations. At Jibe, we are Chartered Accountants, we will ensure that your accounting needs are met professionally and with the utmost care and attention. If you have further questions about what accounting designations mean for your services, contact Jibe and we will be happy to assist you.

Written by: Kate Mundy

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