What's the difference between ACA and ACCA?



well im iranian,25 years old,my undergraduate degree was economics as well,in iran I was selfemployed(teaching math to high school,and undergraduate student)…I have paid 11200 pounds for one year master course.I want to have job with good salary in five year time.
I dont have enough money to continue my phd,since ACA shares some modules with economics(taxation,money finance…) I hope to hit two birds with one stone.
have got a meditranian face(height:1.89cm, black hair,dark green eyes) ,people say I am goodlooking and extremely adaptable person.


well, Im Iranian
teaching math to highschool and undergraduate students(self employed)
in five year:like to secure a job with good salary.
so bad, that I cant apply for my phd(30000 pounds)
have got ameditranian face(hieght:1.98cm,black hair dark green eyes) people say Im handsome and extremely adaptable.
thank you


Okay - well that tells a lot.

If you want to stay in teaching/academia or possibly go back abroad and do that - then sticking out the masters MAY be worth it - phd etc if you really want to go for it and do that as a career - but you need to seriously look into that and get a job lined up in a university first.

Accountancy/finance jobs:

UCAS points are University entry points which are used by employers to deal with the volume of applicants - you need to know what you have otherwise there is no point sending out any applications at all.

Head to PWC/KPMG/Deloitte and see if you meet the minimum entry requirements from your foreign quals - speak to UCAS to see what you got.

However I think you are going to find it tough to get a decent firm training contract.

Things going against you:

  1. foreign - why bother employing you when 10,000+ graduates roll out each year from the UK + UK based careers switchers. Had you been for example a financial analyst from Iran, then it would be a different story, but you are a maths teacher.

  2. don’t fit into standard UCAS info for human resources to deal with - UCAS points are used by computers or recruitment concultants to screen people out before a human even considers your application. Sadly most recruiters will put your application in the bin if it doesn’t say “BBB a-levels” or whatever the client asked for.

  3. language/social barrier - even if you make it to interview (get passed online tests of your English) I think you’ll be beaten by other more anglocised applicants - from your usage of English in the first post -it smacks of someone who isn’t a True English speaker.

“does this story exist in reality?”
“(my grades are very well in economics).”

  • Although I may be completely wrong - at assessment day everyone may think you are incredibly handsome, confident and articulate and you’ll beat everyone else.
  1. No one cares if you have a masters, in fact they may even count it against you - too much study “one of those foreign students”, not enough practical client facing work.

Things going for you:

  1. You’re a maths teacher
  2. You speak Iranian?
  3. You have a work ethic

I suggest chuck in the masters - get a temp job - perfect would be teaching maths in one of Manchesters many failing comprehensives - the pay will be good for what it is.

Whilst doing this - self study the ACA or ACCA qualification, after you have passed 6 exams apply to accountancy firms - smaller firms or finace roles which need Iranian or languages you have.

Alternatively stay in school, move up “pay bands” - you’ll get 13 weeks holiday a year where you can work part-time as a youth worker workingon “muslim projects” or as Iranian translator for the NHS or schools -you’ll out-earn most accountants, have more job security and less hours…

My sister is a maths teacher in a rubbish comprehensive in London, she is on £45k and gets 13 weeks paid off a year…lots of extra cash in hand work as a tutor.


Very insightful for foreign applications. I agree with point 3. The first post isn’t well constructed so written exercises may be a problem.

On an unrelated note, when a job asks for ACA or equivalent, does this include ACCA or e.g. CA?

Also, if you join GT or PWC for ACCA would this be better than an applicant from a small firm with ACA?



thank you very much for your brutal and persuasive responses,however there are somepoints that I like to speak about them a bit more.
1)unfortunately I am not a math teacher(my maths is good because iI have studied economics for six years,and my major has been maths in high school) so there is no formal doc that I have been a teacher.if there is any chance for me to start it I would love it.

2)do you think continuing my study is better than being an ACA?( looking at the horizon for both)

3)my visa will expires in Jan 2012(thats why I want to find a job as soon as possible or decide on my studdies)


Brachioz - yes ACA or equivalent means ACCA or a foreign CA that can sign off UK audit.

“Also, if you join GT or PWC for ACCA would this be better than an applicant from a small firm with ACA?”

A) this depends on what you want to do, it’s like asking “whats better, joining Manchester United as a striker or Chelsea as a goalkeeper” - you need to look at WHAT you want to be doing in the world of accountancy - career progression, location etc to work out your choice, then you will answer this question yourself.

Which role do you want to work in? Which Sector? What size of client? Do you want a 9-5? etc etc

You need to really think what you want to be doing - as your first role will to a great extent pidgeon-hole you. “he’s an auditor”, “he’s a management accountant”, “he’s a big four ACA”, “he’s a small business expert” - in the mind of these incredibly wonderful recruitment consultants and job interviewers/HR people…

B) the straight answer to your question - in the top end job market “yes” Big 4 ACCA would be better - sadly no one has any time or cares about anyone - so its easier to pidgeon hole you as “big 4 auditor” - knowing they are a benchmark, than to waste time listening to you drivel on about how great firm X is and what clients they have…then having to see if they actually exist and have a good rep.



Look into the PGCE:


A trained monkey can pass that and you get paid a salary - more than any small accountancy firm will pay you for half the hours, and qualify as a key worker so they won’t kick you out. - You should be able to get on a teaching course somewhere for a Sept 2011 start - visa sorted.

<> it won’t lead to a job.

Whilst doing this you can do the ACA/ACCA as well should you like.

Then you can easily teach, or get a job in a school - your Iranian language skills are in demand - I worked with someone whose aunt got up to £50 an hour to translate Iranian for NHS appointments and home office…there should be lots of part-time work you can get to keep you going. Have a google around or speak to people at the local council.

I say forget about the ACA as the be all and end all and the way to sty in the UK - the reason being you don’t actually WANT to be an accountant and will probably have a breakdown when your accountancy firm treat you like a dog doing crazy hours - on top of professional exams.

Maths teachers out-earn most accountants in the short run if you look at hourly rate and extra tuition work + massive holidays, and in the long-run its an un-sackable job…that works out much better on the hourly rate + tons of holiday.

Just make sure you go to the gym regularly so you are physically threatening and aim for schools with more ethnic kids and less of the English working classes - the kids in UK comprehensive schools are worse than most inmates in prison.


At the end of the day, the ACCA qualification is fundamentally worthless. I have people working for me who have been doing ACCA for about 15 years and still don’t have much of a clue what they’re doing. ACA - 3 years - reputable firm, not necessarily big 4 - and I’d hire them. I wouldn’t hire an ACCA unless they were extremely attractive.


Could you explain your situation?

I.e what kind of company etc


gjc1970 (is your dob 1970?)
Not the most constructive comment that I have read on this website , which, generally is quite useful for those hoping to join our profession.
First, I’m an FCA so possibly a bit bias. However, I really feel that your post at 9.49 last evening is an unnecessarily vitriolic attack on the ACCA profession. Maybe you were feeling tired or had a bad day at work?
I’m rather concerned that the posting says more about you and your firm and that you are using a clearly unrepresentative sample of ACCAs to pass an opinion on a very reputable institute.Is it about 3 or 4 who work for you?
I know very many pretty damn useless ACAs who bump along in pretty low grade jobs in accountancy. Equally a quick survey of the FTSE 250 companies will show you the very many ACCAs who are so called “captains of industry”.
Are you are an audit manager, partner or perhaps a financial controller in industry?
My questions would be how many ACCAs work for you and what standard of firm do you work for if, after 15 years of poor work, these ACCAs are STILL working for your firm? I question the quality of your firm, and your ability to manage the staff working for you. You should be addressing staff weaknesses by trying to train them to improve their standard of work and if that fails then why are you still retaining these people?
The last comment is a gift for any occupational psychologist. Or maybe it was a joke?


tutor - I can’t work you out…

Although gjc1970 has gone a bit OTT - that’s exactly the kind of blunt comment people who look on this thread are after.

You’ve got to be brutally honest - people like you posting sitting on the fence non-commital egalitarian musings aren’t helping prospective students make decisions.

Look at some of these posts - there are lots of foreign people getting into £30k debt doing courses, and a few who honestly think that by doing the ACCA in TImbuktu they can ge ta free Oxford Brookes Bsc degree, then get the CFA - they’ll land a high paid job in corporate finance in London…

We all know it doesn’t work like that- and we all know the ACA carries more weight than the ACCA in the recruitment market so stop sitting on the fence…

What would you sugest to the guy getting into massive debt doing his masters?

“manchester is a very good university, I’ve met many accountants with masters in economics from manchester who are just as capable as economics grads from cambridge and oxford…blah blah blah …yawn yawn yawn.”

Get to the point - they asking for careers advice, actually I put it to you that you are in fact trying to get everyone to do the ACCA so your FCA standing is seen as even more elitist and you can up your billable hours?!?!


Hi Dave2020
Sorry if you cannot understand why I posted as I did.I really hope nobody is seriously asking for careers advice on here. But they should be able to obtain some accurate information not some whacky opinion based on some clearly unrepresentative firm.

I posted because frankly I was annoyed by gjc1970’s post as it was wholly unhelpful, rude and sexist.I also suspect he is old enough to know better when posting on a site where some more easily influenced, vulnerable participants are looking for advice.Not everyone can read these posts with a big pinch of salt and brush it off. The trouble with anonymous postings is that you get all sorts of unqualified opinions.

Posts on this site are generally good.
In my opinion ACCA, CIMA, ICAS, ACA, etc all have their place. Horses for courses. That is fact. Not fence sitting. I’m very old. I know these things and I have helped many students over the years.

I’m not sitting on the fence. I was trying to introduce BALANCE to a debate that as you are aware has been rehearsed on this site to the point of absolute tedium.

Being FCA makes me ancient (well you have to be ACA for at least 10 years) by comparison with many participants on here. But I have watched the accountancy profession evolve and honestly, all the qualifications have their place. I had a not insubstantial investment in a small group of companies and regularly made site visits to operating companies. Some had ACCAs as FD or MD others had FCA and one had CIMA. All excellent and all delivering to high standards or I would not have invested. I don’t do billable hours nor am bothered with the FCA which as an academic researcher, I no longer use.

I’m now thinking that this has confused you more. Sorry.

As for the issue of foreigners, debts etc that is a whole separate issue. But surely applies equally to very many UK students who have huge debts and a 2.1 and no hope of paid employment.


So let me conclude in the brutal and blunt manner in which all recruitment and HR people would process an application:

  1. You studied far too long ago to make relevant comments about the structure of the qualifications in the current market or the similarity/differences in content and standard.

  2. People you work with have been qualified for a while - so its down to their ability not qualification - so comments on their various merits are again worthless as you are not dealing with high volumes of students on a day to day basis.

  3. You have no current recruitment market selection experience or in applying for jobs or selecting for jobs or doing interviews yourself. I doubt when you applied for jobs the process was automated by computers which screen out applicants on algorithms without a humnan even seeing the application…


This is a thread to ask what the difference is between ACA and ACCA and which is preferrable in the current job market for new students taking up trainee roles.

He is not being rude or sexist - bluntly applications are dealt with on this basis:

  1. Stream the students with preferable backgrounds
  2. Cut out the ones who lack anglocised social skills
  3. Pick the best looking and best fit for the firm

To maximise your chances at point 1) It is best to come from a top firm background, and if possible with the ACA as opposed to ACCA which is considered to be “second best” and often streamed out.

Please stop your egalitarian nonsense which is not giving anyone any answers to a rather simple question - which is the best choice NOW?

Come on try it - one word answer - which is the best option for a new student?

And you’re last statement is nail on head - with so many UK 2:1 numerate graduates with client-facing experience - UK employers do not need to take on someone from Mumbai who has jumped off the boat with the ACCA and CFA or the QWERGAHFKS.


rant over.

Just do the ACA if you can for pity’s sake, but if you get in at a big 4 and they only offer ACCA don’t worry - do that.

That is definitely my last post.



I cannot reveal my identity. Suffice it to say I actually am not at all out of touch with recruitment processes as you imagine.

But do keep posting. I enjoy your posts.


As for the debate between which one is better, I can honestly say it depends more now on actually getting a job. Whichever is offered, take it. Which one is better doesn’t even factor into it. I have a 2.1 degree and a masters from a high ranking university and yet still cannot obtain an ICAS training vacancy. For all my years at Uni I wanted this, but I have been so fed up and put off with ICAS piddly number of vacancies that I switched and signed up for ACCA exams. I have friends from last year who were very good students, but still found it incredibly difficult to get a training vacancy. Some took a year out, some turned their back on it. Some got jobs with the big four doing all kinds of qualifications: ACCA, ICAS, CIPFA etc and good for them. But in terms of ICAS training vacancies, they are just so few and far between, especially in Scotland. Tbh, I am actually fed up with all the bickering that goes on between fellow professionals about which one is the better or even best. Frankly, as a new graduate, I just feel very despondent and upset that with the fact that jobs are hard to come by, we are even considering such a futile debate; it is even making me think twice about being an accountant. I agree with dave2020, if you get a job with big four doing either of the qualifications, then it is a major achievement. Either or, if you get a job doing ACCA or ICAS/ICAEW, then just take it - at least you’re doing something, you can always switch later if you want to join another CCAB body. Just to say, ICAS isn’t as cachet as it once was, and ACCA is catching up or has caught up. Accounting, like medicine, is not so much an elitist middle class profession as it used to be; we all have degrees now, so the competition for any accounting trainee positions is more fierce than ever. It is just a shame that some of us study just to find out that vacancies are not there. My advice, just take whichever is offered to you in the meantime. If you are a good student, then it won’t matter.


Graduated2010 is absolutely correct. This whole debate began in April 2008 before the recession when grad jobs were plentiful The highflyers from Oxbridge etc went off to IB, Hedge funds, etc the next tier went off to big 4 and the next tier went to smaller firms and did ACA or ACCA etc. Now the job market is still dire and we are faced with a so called “lost generation” of very well qualified grads getting nowhere in the job market. Big 4 suddenly become inundated with Oxbridge guys who cannot get into IB etc so the whole market gets shunted down on the ripple effect.
So, go for the best job you can get.
There may be a small light at the end of the tunnel. PwC are taking on 10% more grads this year and I imagine other big 4 will similarly increase their intake.
Poor guys about to go to Uni and have £9k fees to pay AND GET NO JOB AT THE END OF IT…


Im still facing a dilemma to choose between ACA or ACCA, Im staying in Malaysia, I would like to know which qualification would offer better job opportunities+salaries+benefits and has a brighter future? Thanks a lot.

P/S: I’m just 18 this year and am doing an important decision for my future.


back again - as no one is helping our young friend -

tendousoujiooz - can I call you tendousoujiooz for short? Okay then:

Speak to some people at the big 4 firms in Malaysia to see what the score is than looking on internet forums - look at average pay scales etc and be realistic about what YOU can do - try and get an internship in any case and ask everyone about their jobs (not necessarily advice for you) - appearance is just as important as qualifications - so do well at school but also look after your image/social skills.

Start at the Big 4 and you can always move elsewhere after you get the qualification and get a feel for how the industry works and what you can achieve - you may even find its a souless, mind-numbing, socially debilitating profession and join the circus instead or throw yourself out the window at year end.

As regards which qualification offers the brightest future - there are 138 posts on here for you to trawl and 2 websites - ACCA and ICAEW.

After you’ve had a good look through that, and looked at where you are hoping to end up you should be able to work it out for yourself.

But do not make the common mistake of students - experience counts for much more in the career stakes than particular qualifications - so with this in mind if you are planning on making it “big” - you must head to the biggest employers and knock down their doors - don’t get obsessed with qualifications - concentrate on meeting their requirements to get on their schemes.

To be honest doing either ACA or ACCA is not going to hold you back in whatever you end up doing - the world is your oyster qualifying so young - you could always try and improve language or other soft skills to go with your qualification once you’ve got it.

Best of luck, when you are running a huge investment bank and are looking for some talent - remember it was me who helped you make the first move and put you on the pathway to success.


Thank you very much dave, have been waiting for so long but no one seems to bother my question @@ You can actually just call me ten.

I would like to know how would I be able to talk to someone from the big4 firms? Will they voluntary meet me and answer my questions? I don’t really think so.