Everything you need to know about becoming an Accountant in SA
The South African financial sector is in growing need of qualified accountants. Every company has a finance department, which means there is a huge demand for those skilled in accountancy.
What does a Professional Accountant do?
are tasked with giving clear records of financial transactions for
either an individual or a business. The job can be quite demanding but
can open you up to career opportunities within almost any industry. Tax
season is generally the busiest time of year in accounting, and there is
also the chance of assisting in examinations and audits of financial
records. There is a lot of flexibility in the type of accounting you can
do, from monitoring the books of private individuals to conducting
financial studies for large-scale corporations.
Some typical accounting activities include:
- Planning and budget meetings
- Assisting with strategic planning to control costs
- Performing independent reviews
- Checking the financial practices follow the law
- Balancing accounts and preparing financial documents
- Providing recommendations on investment opportunities
- Preparing tax returns
- Entering and monitoring financial data
What is SAIPA?
South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) represents
all Professional Accountants practising in South Africa’s commerce,
industry, academia and public sectors. Boasting a membership of more
than 10 000 Professional Accountants, SAIPA contributes to the
advancement of the local accountancy profession, influencing legislation
and constantly transforming to keep abreast of business, financial and
social developments in the country and internationally. SAIPA is a
professional body registered with the South African Qualification
Authority (SAQA) and has a number of registered professional
What do I need to study to become an accountant?
high school level, you will need to choose Mathematics (Not Maths
Literacy) and Accounting (preferably), matriculating with marks that
will ensure you get a university pass. This will lay the foundation in
accountancy and financial knowledge, while also instilling the correct
logic and process of thinking to succeed in the profession.
matric, you will need to enrol in a tertiary institute and complete a
Bachelor of Commerce degree – or equivalent qualification at a
SAIPA-accredited institution. The core subjects you’ll be studying are:
- Financial Accounting 3
- Auditing 1 OR Internal Auditing
- Commercial Law
- Finance OR Management Accounting 3
successfully earned your Bachelor of Commerce degree, you will need to
gain invaluable work experience in a three-year learnership at a SAIPA-Accredited Training Centres (ATC).
Professional Evaluation (PE) Exam:
completed your learnership, you can then tackle the final hurdle, which
is the SAIPA PE exam. Trainees can take the exam, either in May or
November, at various venues countrywide. This is a four-hour written
competency exam which determines your ability to integrate academic
knowledge with practical workplace experience.
What does a chartered accountant do?
Accountants (CA) are generally employed within the commerce, industrial
or non-profit sector. A CA will undergo more training than an
accountant including an academic post-graduate programme followed by at
least three years under a mentorship. The work’s focus is generally the
provision of accurate records of all financial transactions for an
individual or business.
What is SAICA?
The South African
Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is a professional accountancy
body in South Africa with more than 36 000 members. SAICA provides
support, advice and services to its CA members throughout their
What do I need to study to become a CA?
high school subjects and undergraduate degree will follow the same
lines as a Professional Accountant, however, you must ensure that the
qualification is accredited by SAICA.
You will then need to complete a Certificate in the Theory of
Accounting (CTA) or equivalent qualification which is a post-graduate
course focusing on Accounting, Auditing, Taxation and Financial
Management. As with a PA, a CA must complete a three-year learnership
programme at a SAICA-registered training office.
During this time, you will be studying towards your Certificate in the
Theory of Accounting (CTA) which you’ll need to pass before going onto
the next step. The CTA is valid for three years.
you’ve passed matric with pure maths and will be studying part-time,
you can enter into a training contract with a SAICA-registered training
office. During these 5 years, you will study towards your CTA or
Pass the exams:
- After this, you will
need to pass two SAICA professional exams, the first of which is the
Initial Test of Competence (ITC) written in January or June every year.
passing the ITC, 20 months of registered training with a
SAICA-accredited training office, and completion of the professional
programme, you qualify to write the Assessment of Professional
On successful completion of this, you can register as a CA(SA) with SAICA.
What are some of the benefits of an accounting career?
mentioned, accountancy skills are in big demand countrywide, which is
why choosing a profession in accounting is a sound choice. But here are
some more benefits to consider:
- Solid skills’ base
practical skills and financial knowledge learnt when studying a career
in accounting are beneficial across various industries. You also have a
clear career path and understanding of where your career is heading.
- Job stability
the saying goes, there are only two certainties in life: death and
taxes - which is why almost every business requires an accountant. It’s a
stable job choice with good prospects.
- Career growth
you will start at the bottom rung, with accountancy you can quickly
work your way up the ladder. There’s no limit to career success, you
just need to decide how far you want to take it.
- Financial security
on which career path you choose, there are benefits associated with the
company that hires you. Additionally, an entry-level accountant will
earn roughly R285 000 per year with an entry-level CA earning R406 000.
- Workplace flexibility
Because of the need
for accountants everywhere, you can choose where you want to be based.
Anywhere from the coast or mountains to city living – you decide!
you have a proficiency for accounting and a passion for numbers, then
pursuing a career in accounting is a really worthwhile consideration. It
opens the doors for international job opportunities and the chance to
work in whichever industry you prefer.
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