What's the difference between ACA and ACCA?



Thanks Liverpool

  1. Good clarification - seems I was mistaken/misled by ICAEW student admin when I phoned asking about self-study

  2. I dare say you are right regards the final 3 exams.

  3. You’re testament to how it works! You did ACA in big 4 and moved on up the career path- the circles you move in are big hitters.

Most of the people ending up here aren’t in that bracket and if they self-study ACCA as a management accountant won’t get anywhere near the big money. The ones without the people or language skills won’t even make £45k by training in a small finance department.

Maths teacher after 3 years £45k - not sure what the ceiling is, 9 - 5, do marking in class, 3 months holiday, £20 an hour tutoring cash in hand, and its public sector - 1 year maternity leave, days off sick within reason and so on…you can be completely socially inept, speak terrible English and you’ll never get sacked or be out of work - its also less stressful and less responsibility and you can’t fail - for some - especially many posting on here - who’ve no hope of securing decent training but have invested in their education - its the better option by a long way.

I hope they delete my account soon or I am going to fail my re-take and get sacked!


Dave, I do know that you need three years to complete the PER; what i was asking Liverpool was whether 12 months of those three years form part of your three years. It does state clearly on the ACCA website that 12 months of teaching experience can go towards your PER, and I wanted someone to clarify that. That was all. Simple question.


Good luck on your retake, thanks for your comments!


As you are still here, I need to clarify.
I am working in accounts but they do not support my studies, I do not get any time off for my uni nor even emotional support.
I’m also not on the training contract. I’m simple junior AP and they haven’t promoted me as they said I will demand more by being ‘over’-qualified.
I hate my job and my life here, so I have decided to become a ‘respectable unemployed’.

As per ACCA I think time management, concentration and sufficient emotional stability are the core. Hope next sitting will be successful!
Keeping my fingers crossed for your retake.


Hi Kucowna,

If you are really upset with your job, maybe you think about applying for a job doing ACA if it is you want to subscribe to the common perception that it is the best. Today I was rejected from another vacancy (CA) because I don’t have enough experience and because of limited spaces (2). The biggest thing they look for is experience, such as yours; that is what is very important. But don’t become despondent just because the some of the views on here deem ACCA inferior and we are all failures because we haven’t got a big four job. Good luck to those who have; it is a major achievement. However, ACCA students such as myself have families to run,mortgages to pay, other commitments, among other things. Maybe if we had time to do a gap year in Canada or join a squash club we might get on a lot better? And don’t tell me some undergrad’s are selected purely on the basis of their implied social skills i.e. that a six week internship is in any way comparable with some of the life skills developed by ACCA students or ACA students studying independently who have had to fork out their own money just to get a job. Anyway, keep going with your ACCA and don’t be too disheartened by some of the views on here, which can actually put you off what you are doing. Who are we to give advice? Most of us have hardly started or even qualified. We just give opinions; whether these are fact or not, that remains to be seen. As long as you don’t get too down and keep going with it, you should be fine. Keep your chin up. At least you are working towards something.


sorry for being so harsh in my earlier posts.

you are right, ACCA is a global, excellent qualification and you can do very well with it. Stick at it and finish it and try and get some work experience relevant to the industry you want to be in.

I really recommend approaching certain agencies (like Robert half) or applying direct to the smaller firms (google top 100 firms in UK via accountancy age and go direct). They will see this proactive approach in doing your studies as a positive sign.

Good luck guys with your endevours and I really hope it all works out. Just be strong and hang in there, the best thing you can do is try and pass first time and look for vacancies that are suitable at the same time.


Graduated and Liverpool - thanks for uplifting notes.
I think the same - proactive approach, determination and achieving small steps towards a goal will take us where we want to get. Les keep on trying.

Fingers crossed for you and all the best!!


It is an emotive subject and there are some underlying issues people have so it must be blunt but fair - not retracting statements out of guilt, knowing full well these people will not realise the dream and should perhaps wake up and smell the coffee instead of getting into debt, studying endlessly and working minimum wage jobs:

People comment on this thread without understanding that there are 2 seperate unlinked issues dependent on WHO you are - which group you fall into:

a) UK born and bred 20 - 25 graduates looking for a graduate trainee role to launch finance careers, presuming the top path is to head to audit firms then banks.

b) Foriegn students looking for trainee roles.

Overall Its WHERE you train not what qualification you do that counts for your career.

a) UK grad through UK school system wanting a high powered career transistion to banking etc.

Liverpool123 is spot on regards the ACA, it is always the preferred choice by employers - only about 4000 training contracts take place each year so it is assumed you are in the top 4000 of applicants - if you can at all persuade your trainer to give you ACA - do.

The reason why “first time passes” is used as a measure is becuase ACA exams unlike ACCA are not marked on pass marks but against percentiles. This means the bottom 25% always fail - you will be issued with a exam mark stating: pass, fail, bad fail. This indicates to your employer if you failed through virtue of being in the bottom 25% but did pass the exam technically or whether you failed for doing no work.

This is one of the reasons the banks prefer the ACA - it is the top end of a particular year group, the other far more relevant is that the Big 4 tend to only put ACA for corporate finance and capital markets jobs in London.

Obviously first time passes are NOT the be all and end all - especially if you work in capital markets for big 4.

Use your common sense - one guy on Wikijob kept getting rejected for interview - then revealed he’d explained his dodgy a-levels by saying " I suffered from ME during 6th form" - which has to be the biggest evidence of a lack of common sense or commercial awareness regards the profession.

b) Foreign non recent UK grads:

There are 2 elements here:

  1. I can’t get a training contract at a decent firm no matter what I do

This is because employers are looking for a TYPE of person as it is a TRAINEE ROLE - the further you evidence you are not the type - the less likely you will even get an interview - you do not fit the type - there are hundreds other applicants who and have applied of the job - they are in group a)…

You may well have to settle for doing the ACCA/CIMA in a small accounts department on very low pay - the jobs group a) candidates would rather not do.

  1. But I have a masters, phd and 10 years experience working in industry X in country Z- much more than a 21 year old UK student.
  • A 6 month internship counts for more than a Masters, Phd or 10 years experience - the obvious point is they are looking for trainees to do the leg-work and “FIT” into the firm - someone who has already gone through the selection process of the firm or one of similar standing AND stuck out a period of employment doing the legwork job - paid/unpaid has evidenced they are a fit.

Someone who is not going to be phased by 3 years of doing mundane dogsbody work, someone who can vote in the “best graudate employers” list and other PR and brand building/marketing exercises for the firm.

There are also established social networks and schemes that further the firms interests - there is no point having a football league to network with local clients - if all your trainees are too old to play.

  • However you may well find a niche in a job with a company that operates in industry X or has dealings with country Y.

  • In fact you will see many adverts for “mandarin speaking chartered accountant” - what they mean here is a native chinese speaker, who can speak english and is a chartered accountant - therefore they will not look at people who are from group a) who did a gap year in CHina - its the mandarin fluency that is needed that only a native speaker can have.

Look for the niche that fits you - and the one where you can add more vallue than people from group a) and you stand a very good chance of getting the job over anyone else.

  1. The UK’s chief method of employing people is through healthcare and education.

That is why it has 1000’s of establishments which make money through SELLING PEOPLE COURSES and getting government subsidies to do so. To keep this whole charade of macro-economic financial engineering and reduced unemployment afloat -they need a never ending stream of students - so give student visas etc on top of child benefits etc.

This however does not mean that passing through this system you are then comparable to people in group a) in teh minds of recruiters.

The accountancy profession is probably the best example of how pointless a Masters or degree as you can do the whole ACA or ACCA exams in the same time for a fraction of the cost.

By putting “masters” on your CV without a clear progression from a University you have simply signalled “foreign” - especially if your name is not an English one, rather than a fit under group a) who wanted to spend anohter 2 years drinking.

  1. You are too old/too ethnic for a TRAINEE position (leg-work at the behest of superiors)

age - sadly the ridiculous left-wing employment laws have meant that employers must apply unspoken right-wing recruitment policies and want to avoid people who may have kids or family responsibilities for trainee roles - and consequenlty will not want to do 12 hour days in busy season or spend a month away at a client premises or cancel their plans to fit with their managers.

ethnic - some firms avoid people who are going to be problematic in office politics or worse are going to come up with stupid reasons to take time off such as “I am fasting”

Why Do I suggest teaching as a career for foriegners?

  • If you have no contacts, network or social skills - you will find it difficult to progress in the Uk professional environment and may be out of work somewhere down teh line - teaching is unsackable.

  • Many jobs advertise “ACCA exams passed accountant” £18k etc - what they want here is a group b) candidate who they can ge tto do ALL the legwork - there will not be easy progression in duties or pay - and it is generally a dead end.

  • When the penny drops, many foreign academics suddenly realise they are overqualified but underpaid - and that teaching offers them far higher pay and working life benefits than beign a dogsbody in a small firm - where the glass ceiling is set insultingly low and all you will do is have a chip on your shoulder and sore head.

So I would say - yes, everyone keep your chin up and “keep trying” - but be thoroughly sure you understand which group you fit into and what you are trying to do with a TRAINEE ROLE - you are more likely to secure training that way if you really want to be an accountant or achieve other goals which may well be “visa to stay in UK and £45k a year job for family”.


I think Dave2020 has made some harsh points but to be frank, the UK job market is very harsh at the moment and what Dave has said has really made clear some of the unspoken truths. The book “How to get a graduate job” by Williams, Brown and Hesketh opens up the murky world of graduate recruitment even more.


Dave is spot on in everything he has said. If you think Msc routes and PhDs will bring you success they won’t. The MSc is basically a stepping stone onto a PhD if you want a challenging career in research or you would like earn a good salary teaching at a 6th form college; they are largely pointless and unnecessary if you are considering a career in the accounting profession. But like BlueAndWhite says, the opportunities for training are very competitive, and if you are not taking internships and trying your best to differentiate yourself from other minimum 2.1 candidates, you will never get a ACA/CA job with a view to achieving the big salaries; if a big salary is what you aspire to achieve. ACCA will always be slightly tainted because the best students do ACA/CA at big four firms, and many will not opt for ACCA. In general this is true, and you if you have graduated recently you can see that this is so. In Scotland, you are lucky to find 20 companies small and mid size recruiting on average more than 6 candidates per year. I think I saw that this year Pwc were taking on 900 students (I stand corrected if I am wrong). On these numbers it takes a lot of time and patience if you want to gain the ACA/CA qualification, and if you don’t fit into the firm’s ethos, are too old to be considered someone they can boss around or have other dependants, the job market looks bleak at best. But everyone to their own. We all have to decide which is the best route for ourselves, given our particular circumstances and which is most suited. But again, you cannot contend with the fact that CA/ACA from a big four is the best route for new graduates who are seeking to earn the big money from the off.



I’ve been made an offer by a big four and I’ve accepted. I will be working in audit and studying for the ACA in Sept but last year I registered as a student for the ACCA and also entered myself in for an ACCA exam for June 2011. I’m a bit worried. I want to ‘de-register’ from ACCA. Will I be able to do this without a problem?


hi i want to know that how many papers of aca are left or time completion …after doin acca


Hi Goher
After your completion of ACCA you can get 12 exemption for ACA that’s mean you only have to do another 3 exam to be qualify for ACA. Good luck mate


The post by Dave2020 is absolutely sot on. I fall into the (b) category of foreign student looking for a training contract. I have lived and worked at a Big 4 in the United States and came over here to do my Masters. I started trying to apply for ACA roles and so far have gotten burned by all the Big 4, GT and BDO.

Initially i was really surprised until my uncle, who works with Lloyds told me that there are simply too many factors working against me, namely being a foreign student with foreign qulifications and having a totally un-English name!

So, i decided to settle for the low-paying, minimum wage job with the hope of studying for the ACCA. It is very discouraging at times.


Hello, I need help…

i have recently completed my BTEC National Diploma in Business and I am looking forward to be an successful accountant in future but I am not sure that whether i should go for Accounting and Finance (BA) or ACCA. I heard that ACCA got better scope than BA in Accounting field is it true?


Hey all,how r u guys…now if somebody can help me with my problem. I am currently residing in pakistan,karachi and i am about to sit in b-com exams later this year. But a new development transpired about two months ago. HEC which is higher education commision has acknowledged ACCA equivalent to Masters. Now back to my problem, now i was doing b-com which i in the first place didnt want to do, purely because of the fact that it has been far too devalued for a long long time. So fast forward i google this n i come here to this forum. Now someone plzz give me enough reasons why i should start doing ACCA and while i can goto london to study ACA, my aim is to stay or lets just say my last stop is going to be the middle east. So i hear everyone saying that ACCA is more of a global thing unlike ACA which will only be meaningful in england. But ive got friends in london who have finished there ACCA and are looking for jobs to complete 3 yrs of internship. But they cant find a job, i mean seriously ACCA completed almost in london and no job. Plzz guys help me with this. I cant make up my mind and i would personally want to do ACCA rather than ACA which is a wee bit longer!!!
thanks guys im new…so plz helppppp!!!


hey …
m currently doing ACCA…somebody advised me to do ACA after ACCA… will it be wise?


I’ve come across these two web pages may be able to clarify the ACA vs ACCA debate (though granted it may be presented in a slightly biased fashion)

http://www.ion.icaew.com/talkaccountancyforum/22442 (fifth post)



ACA is more suitable in the Uk whereas ACCA is more recognised internationally. I personally prefer ACA because it’s more prestigious although I think more harder as well but overall either will be good to have.


I am a CA in India, i want to do job in London, can any body suggest me which course ( like ACA or ACCA ) is more use full for me to get job over there and that course should be universally recognised course, so that in future, that course or that job experience will be use full if i go any other country like India or US.