Should I Take the ACCA, CPA or the Singapore CA Qualification?

Should I Take the ACCA, CPA or the Singapore CA Qualification?

Accounting has become a popular profession within the financial sector due to its excellent career prospects and chances of career progression. There are numerous courses and professional qualifications within the field such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) that you can consider for training in accounting.

These are just two of the many accounting certifications available. Given this, choosing an appropriate qualification from the wide variety of accounting courses and certifications can be a difficult task. 

Among all the accounting courses available to you, the ACCA, CPA, and CA course is most suited for students fresh out of college.

If you aspire to become a chartered accountant and want to learn more about the differences in these qualifications, this blog will help you out. 

We’ll provide more details on each certification and highlight the major differences between them.

What is ACCA?

ACCA refers to a global accounting body that claims to have more than 241,000 members across 178 countries. The ACCA certification is extremely reputable and is recognised by more than 8500 employers worldwide.(Source: Acca, Eduyush)

The qualification consists of 13 papers which students can complete within three to ten years. ACCA requirements are not very stringent and students with a non-finance background can also apply.

Why Study ACCA? 

ACCA offers numerous advantages to aspiring accountants:

  • Globally recognised: ACCA is recognised by over 8500 employers worldwide, making it a valuable credential.
  • Career opportunities: ACCA opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities in finance, accounting, and auditing.
  • Flexibility: ACCA allows candidates to complete the qualification at their own pace, typically within three to ten years.
  • Non-finance background: Even students with non-finance backgrounds can pursue an ACCA, making it accessible to a broader audience.

What is CPA?

CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant and the qualification is provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or AICPA.

The CPA exam requirements include two or more years of accounting experience and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance or accounting. CPA certification also requires a minimum of 150 hours of study on the core subjects.

Why Study CPA? 

CPA offers several advantages for those pursuing a career in accounting:

  • High demand: CPAs are in high demand, with opportunities in accounting, auditing, taxation, and finance.
  • Global opportunities: While initially U.S.-focused, CPAs have opportunities worldwide, especially in global firms and multinational corporations.
  • Rigorous education: The CPA qualification signifies a high level of expertise and education in accounting and finance.
  • Regulatory authority: CPAs often hold positions of authority and responsibility in finance and accounting.

What is CA Singapore?

The CA Singapore qualification is considered to be the national accountancy qualification and is developed by the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC), a statutory board under the Singapore Ministry of Finance. The CA course can land you key positions in major organisations.

Advantages of Studying in Singapore CA 

Studying for the CA Singapore qualification provides several advantages:

  • National recognition: CA Singapore is nationally recognised and supported by the Singapore Ministry of Finance, offering a strong foundation for a career in accounting.
  • Local expertise: This qualification is tailored to Singapore's unique business and financial landscape, making graduates highly relevant in the local job market.
  • Prestigious positions: CA Singapore professionals often hold prestigious positions in major organisations, demonstrating the high regard in which this qualification is held.
  • Regulatory compliance: Graduates are well-versed in Singapore's regulatory requirements, making them invaluable for businesses operating in the region.

Why Study CA in Singapore? 

Becoming a Chartered Accountant in Singapore offers unique opportunities and benefits:

  • National recognition: CA Singapore is the national accountancy qualification, recognised and supported by the government, offering a strong foundation for a successful career.
  • Local expertise: The qualification is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in Singapore's financial sector.
  • Prestigious positions: CA Singapore professionals often occupy key positions in major organisations, showcasing the qualification's prestige.
  • Regulatory knowledge: Graduates are well-versed in Singapore's regulatory landscape, ensuring compliance and expertise in the local business environment.

What are the Differences Between ACCA, CPA, and CA Singapore?

Here are the main differences between all three certifications.







CA Singapore 


Field of work

Most ACCA professionals work as taxation and accounting inspectors in public or private entities.

CA Singapore professionals mostly work in their own firms or as finance consultants in public or private enterprises.

CPA professionals mostly provide financial advice to small and medium-sized firms.

Career scope

As the ACCA is an international organisation, its members can work in any part of the world. ACCA covers the taxation and accounting systems of major countries.

Although CA Singapore professionals can technically work abroad, their qualification primarily allows them to establish their practice within Singapore.

This certification is provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Hence, CPA professionals can work as accountants in the USA or anywhere with US regional offices.

Qualification tenure

ACCA provides an ample time frame to its candidates for completing all its levels. Depending on their priorities, candidates can finish all ACCA levels within three to ten years.

There is no specific time frame for acquiring this certification. The time required depends on your academic background and the number of modules being attempted.

AICPA provides 18 months for the completion of the certification.

While there are several differences between the ACCA, CPA, and CA, all three certifications can help you establish a successful accountancy career. Studying for any professional accountancy qualification requires commitment and long hours of study. 

If you want to supplement your learning with a preparatory course, the Singapore campus of the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) offers preparatory courses for the ACCA and Singapore CA qualifications as well as the U.S. CPA.

All courses come with customised curriculums that cater to the needs of their markets.

Click here to get more details about the ACCA preparatory course at LSBF Singapore.

Click here to learn more about the preparatory course for the Singapore CA qualification programme. Click here to learn more about the U.S. CPA online packages

*To see the source please click here


Can I continue to study ACCA in Singapore?

Yes, you can continue to study ACCA in Singapore. ACCA has a presence in Singapore, and there are accredited learning providers that offer ACCA courses.

How do I apply to be an ACCA student?

To apply to be an ACCA student, you can visit the official ACCA website and follow their application process, which includes creating an account, submitting your educational documents, and paying the relevant fees.

What are the entry requirements for the ACCA qualification?

The entry requirements for the ACCA qualification may vary depending on your educational background. Typically, you need a minimum of two GCE Advanced Level and three GCSE passes in five different subjects including English and mathematics. However, ACCA also accepts other qualifications, so it's best to check their official website for specific entry requirements.

What are the requirements to take the CPA exam?

The requirements to take the CPA Exam in the United States usually include having a bachelor's degree, completing a certain number of accounting and business credit hours, and meeting specific state requirements. These requirements may vary by state.

How much does it cost to take the CPA exam?

The cost of taking the CPA exam varies by state, but it typically includes application fees, examination fees for each of the four exam sections, and additional fees for services like score reporting and re-examination. On average, the CPA application fee ranges from USD 150–200, the evaluation fee ranges from USD 225–350 and the registration fee costs around USD 70–150. There are other additional fees like international testing fees etc. (Source: Fee details)

How do I apply for the CPA exam?

To apply for the CPA exam, you need to follow the application process of the specific state board of accountancy where you plan to take the exam. This process typically involves creating an account, submitting your transcripts and fees, and scheduling your exam sections.

This article was written by Sweha Hazari and edited by Anisa C and Candice McDowell.

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