Professional Qualifications: Part 1 – Accounting

It is often expected and advised that anyone who is interested in the accounting profession obtain professional qualification from a recognised accounting body. This shows a level of technical expertise, provides a level of career security and various monetary benefits due to the multitude of opportunities available to these individuals.

Many accounting and business designations exist but they often have different membership requirements and benefits and some countries may not allow non-resident designations to practice in their country. Many countries (including Jamaica) also use membership to the appropriate national accounting body, inter alia  as a prerequisite for public practice. Three things need to be looked at when choosing a professional designation

  1. Time
  2. Cost/ Return on Investment
  3. International Recognition.

Generally, I think the best way to decide between designations is to determine where you see yourself in 5-15 years. So for example if you think that you want to be in the US at some point your option would be to do the US CPA. However, if you decide that you want to travel to a Caribbean country or go to Europe you would also have the option of doing ACCA.

Accounting Designations / Professional Qualifications

In Jamaica ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is arguably the go to professional qualification for Jamaican accountants; however holders of the CPA (Certified Public Accountant qualification) from the United States of America are still highly regarded by employers. Many other designations exist such as the Canadian CGA, CA and CMA but these credentials have been subsequently replaced and unified by a new designation called the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA – Canada).

professional qualification, acca, aicpa(cpa) Cpa -canada

3 Designations accepted by the ICAJ

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants



Certain courses offered at University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI) give exemptions from some ACCA examinations. Accounting students can get up to a maximum of 7 (up from 5) exemptions if they do Financial Management II (MGMT3048) in addition to already compulsory Financial Management I (MGMT2023). This means that assuming a UWI student doing 2 papers in each sitting (starting December 2014) could complete the exams in 18 months (see tables below)


# of Exams taken every 6 monthsRoute TakenTime Taken to Complete ACCA Exams (with UWI exemptions)
PapersMonthYearTime is takes
P4-P7 (Choose 2)
Year 1
Year 2
Year 2
Year 3
Year 3
Year 4
Year 4
36 Months (3 Years)
2F7 & F9
P4-P7 (Choose 2)
Year 1
Year 2
Year 2
Year 3
18 Months (1.5 year)
3F7 & F9
P1,P2 & P3
P4-P7 (Choose 2)
Year 1
Year 2
Year 2
12 Months (1 year)

*See ACCA’s exemption query for more information

Approximate Cost

Fee Type Cost (£) – British Pounds
Registration Fee 79
Annual Membership Fee 81                                 
2 Fundamental Papers 93*2 (87 if early)
2 Exemptions 87*2
5 Professional Papers 108*5 (100 if early)
Total Approximate Cost £1,008 – £1,060

* These figures are based off 2014 exam date and do not contain ICAJ and other fees. See ACCA website for up-to-date fees:

International Recognition

ACCA Countries

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CPA)

Certified Public Accountants are licenced at the state level which means that there are different requirements for different states.CPA-professional designation USA

Typically accountants that seek to be qualified as Chartered Accountants in Jamaica do the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination through a state that does not have the 150 credit hour requirement (UWI’s 3 year degree is less than 150 credit hours). Organisations such as CPA Tutors & Consultants prepare you for the examinations in as little as one year.

US states have recently been trending towards having the strict 150 credit hour requirement which basically means that you would have to do a master’s degree in order to qualify. The other option is going to the US and doing a master’s degree but then you would need to do the qualifying GMAT examination.

  • Educational Requirements: Obtaining 150 credit hours with a Baccalaureate Degree
  • Experience: 1-3 years
  • Mutual Recognition Agreements :
    • Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)
    • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
    • CPA Australia
    • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
    • The Instituto Mexicano De Contadores Publicos (IMCP)
    • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
    • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • Exam Format: Computer-based, 4 Papers:
    • Auditing and Attestation (4.0 hours)
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting (4.0 hours)
    • Regulation (3.0 hours)
    • Business Environment and Concepts (3.0 hours)

See for more information on becoming a Certified Public Accountant.


Maximum of 18 months (varies by state) to pass all four sections once the first section is passed


The exam is only offered in select countries namely USA, Japan, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Kuwait therefore costs would include visa application costs, plane fare and possible hotel fares & accommodation.

Certified Professional Accountant – Canada

cpa canada professional designation

Canada has recently started the merger of three of its accounting bodies, namely: Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CA), Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA) and Certified Management Accountants of Canada (CMA), into a new designation, Chartered Professional Accountants. As this is a new designation not much information is available about it as they have not fully finalised the details of the merger.

See for more information on becoming a Certified Professional Accountant.

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Shane Miller

Auditor / Musician / Graphic Designer
Business Man & Knowledge Googler by Day, Graphic Designer by morning & Musician by night.

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47 Responses

  1. Michel says:

    Hi Shane

    I just completed the revised accounting program at UWI (including Financial Management I & II). I am waiting on official transcripts to apply to ACCA for exemptions. However previous graduates mentioned that they were exempted for only 4 papers. It was my understanding that it was up to 7. Do you know if something recently changed? What must be done to be exempted for the maximum papers?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Shane Miller says:

      My friends indicated that they had to continuously follow up with ACCA in order to get the exemptions. So I don’t think its a guarantee anymore but I think if you keep pressing them you may be able to get the exemptions.

  2. Brianna says:

    Hello Mr. Miller I found your post very informative, however I have a few queries. I would like to pursue my career of becoming a Certified Chartered Accountant. I will be doing my second year of CAPE in September . I have already attained 9 CXC subjects and I have sit 5 Cape units ( including Accounting unit 1) already and will be sitting 4 units in September. After graduating from sixth form I would like to know if I qualify for any ACCA exemptions and I would also like to know if enrolling at the Richmond Academy is a viable option instead of going to uwi to pursue a bachelor’s. I don’t mind self studying and just sitting the exams but an in class experience is preferred by me.

    • Shane Miller says:

      Sorry for the extremely late response, my understanding is that CAPE is not sufficient for ACCA exccemptions however, it would be best to check the ACCA website for details. Additionally, doing ACCA instead of an accounting degree is cost effective and a good plan especially if you don’t plan to leave the Caribbean or if you plan to travel to the EU.

    • Allison Lamont says:

      Is an accounting bachelors degree just as good as ACCA?

      • Shane Miller says:

        Generally ACCA is seen as better than a BSc and a MSc, as you are required to have certain levels of professional experience and the professional level exams are generally deemed to be more difficult or at least at the level of a masters programme.

        If you only had money do do only one I would suggest ACCA as you will get a better long term return on the money invested in classes/exam costs.

  3. patrice brown says:

    Hi if I want to self study do you know the steps to take to register for the exams

  4. KC says:

    Hi shane, can I study for the CPA even though I have a Bsc. in accounting from UWI?

  5. Simone says:

    Good Morning,
    I am interested in pursuing CPA where do you think is the best facility to do it.

    • Shane Miller says:

      Hello Simone,
      There are currently two places (to my knowledge) that offer assistance in preparing for the CPA that is B&B University/ CPA Tutors & Consultants and Global Accountancy, with B&B being the more experienced of the two. Persons I know that went to B&B/CPA Tutors generally speak highly of them.

  6. Annicia Malcolm says:

    hello Shane, I’m interested in starting the ACCA course September as it has always been my dream to become an Certified Chartered Accountant. I’ve 9 CXC subjects Maths and English included as well as eight units of CAPE.However, I’m in Manchester and I’m having a challenge finding a class in this vicinity. I would like to know how can I sign up for the programme and also since finding a class is a challenge for me I would have no problem doing an online class or self studying. What i would like you to do forme is to provide me with some information as to how I can sign up for the programme and also help me to locate some study materials. Thanks in advance.

  7. Kandy says:

    Hi Shane,

    Does starting the ACCA at the foundation level, straight from 5th form and completing the qualification gives equal paying salary as completing a degree in Accounting?

    Thank you.

    • Shane Miller says:

      Hello Kandy,
      It’s hard to say, however someone who completed the ACCA and is chartered will generally command more pay than someone who only has a Bsc with the same amount of experience.

  8. Michel says:

    Hello Shane

    Very informative post.

    I am currently completing my second year with the Accounting program at UWI. At what point in my program do you suggest I commence the ACCA program? Do you suggest I wait until I have completed my Bachelors or start now?

    Also do you suggest studying on my own for the ACCA or attending a centre?

    Many thanks

    • Shane Miller says:

      Good morning Michel,
      Its best to start ACCA when you have finished so that you can get the maximum amount of exemptions.

      It really depends on your learning style, what I can tell you is that for some of the harder papers (Professional papers) persons have told me that its good to have additional guidance.

      If you’re not sure, perhaps you could try a class out for maybe your first two papers and see if it helps you to succeed.
      – All the best

  9. Cristina says:

    Hi Shane Miller, i have a Bsc in Business Education from Mico University College but i am interested in getting a CPA. What are requirements in getting A CPA?

  10. Hello, I am I interedted in doing ACCA. I have 6 cxc,1 in both math and language…4 CAPE, Teaching diploma and a guidance counsellor degree. Want a change.what do I need to do to be qualified to be an ACCA accountant

    • Shane Miller says:

      Good afternoon Venisha,
      You would need to meet the minimum requirements in order to register and start doing the exams, thankfully the ACCA’s website is very clear and even has a page that outlines the minimum requirements to start. Generally you would need 6 units of CAPE, you mentioned that you had 4 CAPE, is this four units or four subjects (which would be 8 units)? If it is the latter then based on the site I linked you to, you would qualify.

      – All the best.

  11. Neicy Tomkins says:

    I minored in accounting at the UWI. Is it possible for me to attain a CPA even though accounting was not the full focus of my degree?

  12. Tiffany says:

    hey shane I would like to persue a career in accounting but I only have 3 cxc subjects, can you help me because I have no clue on the the first step to take.

    • Shane Miller says:

      Hey Tiffany
      The first step you need to do is to decide which countries you want your qualification to be recognised in:
      1. US/Canada: CPA, you need a BSc. with a concentration in accounting, meaning you would need to do either two more CSEC subjects (assuming you have maths and English), then apply to UTECH, do a BSc. in accounting then do the CPA exam
      2. Commonwealth (i.e. Most of the Caribbean, parts of Africa etc.) UK, and most of EU, (basically any country that uses IFRS standards): same as above, have 5 subjects then apply to UTECH or do CAPE subjects and apply to UWI or apply to start ACCA (with 3 CAPE subjects & 5 CSEC subjects)
      3. Or start ACCA at foundations level (7 papers (then you have to start ACCA and do 14 additional papers) now (has no entry requirements)
      I think that it is important that you have Mathematics and English Language regardless of what you are doing so if you plan to do, so if you don’t have those you should aim for that first. Additionally, the key thing here is really deciding if you want to start ACCA at the foundation level, as you wouldn’t have as much flexibility as someone who did something more general (e.g. CAPE subjects).
      Flexibility here means that when you have other things such as CAPE you can use it to either start ACCA at a higher level, have more choices for university (you can now apply to UWI) and you’ve also increased your pay potential.

      Key Points:
      1. Ensure you have Maths and English in CSEC (CXC)
      2. Do ACCA at foundation level if you don’t plan to do any further education (aside from ACCA)
      3. Do +2 CSEC and + CAPE to have greater opportunities (i.e. University, starting ACCA at regular entry point)

      • Onieka says:

        I’s acca recognized in us/canada

        • Shane Miller says:

          In Canada yes, in that you may need to do few other courses or steps to become licensed (Canadian Tax and Law). However, ACCA is not widely accepted in USA. In addition, you can’t practice with ACCA in the US nor are there any paths to becoming licensed by doing that exam.

  13. Shanice says:

    Hi I’m wondering if I should attend Uwi for my degree in accounting or should I just go ahead and do the ACCA exams? I need some advice. Thanks

    • Shane Miller says:

      Good morning Shanice,
      That is a very good question. What I have found is that in the accounting industry, having ACCA/CPA is highly respected above all other qualifications. Therefore for almost any accounting job above entry level (in countries were ACCA is recognised e.g. Jamaica, UK), regardless of if you have a Bsc. (first degree) you should be able to secure a good job – granted if you have the requisite experience.

      However, the main issue with only having ACCA is that most other designations (professional qualifications – e.g. CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst, CIA – Certified Internal Auditor) require that you have a Bsc. in order for you to attain them. This might pose an issue in the future if you want to specialise in a particular area.

      There are some schools that allow you to do a Bsc. while doing the ACCA. Also note that some countries such as the USA don’t widely recognise the ACCA (generally ACCA is recognised in most EU, UK and commonwealth countries e.g. Caribbean)

  14. Ramona Reid says:

    hello good day i would love to start a career in accounting, but all i have a this moment is a high school leaving certificate. i would appreciate if you could at least advice me on my route to a successful career. i have been thinking about enrolling at the RICHMOND ACADEMY OR THE GLOBAL ACCOUNTANCY INSTITUTE please refer me the most suitable one thank you. if not please help me by telling me where to begin.

    • Shane Miller says:

      Good afternoon Ramona,
      Honestly since I’m not pursuing the ACCA qualification I don’t have any in-depth experience with both of them as it relates that that qualification. However, I will contact my collegues and try to get back to you before next week Wednesday.
      – All the best.

    • Shane Miller says:

      Good afternoon Ramona,
      Honestly since I’m not pursuing the ACCA qualification I don’t have any in-depth experience with both of them as it relates that that qualification. However, I will contact my colleges and try to get back to you before next week Wednesday.
      – All the best.

  15. Shan says:

    I would like to purse my accounting qualification and had planed on doing so with global accountancy college, having obtained a high school diploma. How should i begin?

  16. hopeton campbell says:

    I would like to know If I decide to pursue a BSC degree at UWI having attained papers f7 to F8, Would i get any exemptions?

    • Shane Miller says:

      Hopeton,Doing a UWI degree definitely does not exempt you from any of the professional papers (that is P1 to P7) as ACCA does not give exemptions in professional stage [Quote: “we do not award any exemptions at the Professional level”].

      However, a UWI degree and the course Financial Management II should give exemptions in F7&F9 (it doesn’t seem to be consistent, however, as some people only got exemptions in F1 to F4); seeing as how you did up to F8 you would only benefit from getting exemptions in F9.

      Therefore, doing a UWI degree simply for exemptions may not be an economical way to go, especially since you seem to be advanced in your ACCA studies.

  17. Ramon Leachman says:

    Very informative Mr. Miller. Thanks for sharing.

    • Shane Miller says:

      Thank you very much. I’m working on a post for managing stocks on the Jamaica Stock Exchange in Excel next, so hopefully by tomorrow I will have that out.

      • danelle says:

        I would like to pursue my accounting qualification,having already attained a business degree. Whr/how should i begin.

        • Shane Miller says:

          Hello Danelle,
          Well firstly you should decide on which qualification that you want and which countries you need it to be recognised in.

          The most popular ones (as shown above) are ACCA and CPA with ACCA being more popular.

          To answer your question for ACCA your would need to register with a accounting school, see ICAJalthough it is possible to do it on your own .

          For CPA you would need to get your transcripts evaluated first.

        • Diva Simons says:

          But Shane i thought it was confirmed that you can study on your own for the ACCA, didnt know you have to go through school as well

        • Shane Miller says:

          Hey Diva, yes you can study on your own with both ACCA and CPA. Going through a school is not necessary or required.

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