Becoming a Chartered Accountant [CA(SA)] in South Africa

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 Becoming a Chartered accountant is one of the toughest yet rewarding careers in South Africa. Trainee accountants earn an average of R19000/month and have the benefit of being able to work in different industries meaning they are not limited to just one field. Becoming a chartered accountant is regarded as a safe career option as it has been and still is, one of the most in demand jobs in South Africa and that’s mainly because all businesses (big or small) need financial advice and auditing of accounts to ensure a business is financially healthy. 

How does one become a Chartered Accountant? 

This career is not an easy career to pursue, so you would expect a few challenges/steps to pass through in order to achieve it. Firstly, you need to have mathematics and preferably accounting as high school leaving subjects of which you perform well in.

The better the marks, the higher the likelihood of you being admitted to a university to do this course without any back tracks. Secondly, you must enrol at one of the SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) accredited higher education institutions that offer Bachelor of  accounting sciences (Chartered Accountancy).

Some of the tertiary institutions that offer Bachelor of accounting science (Chartered Accountancy) and Bachelor of Commerce in accounting are namely: North-West University, University of Cape Town and the University of Johannesburg. Detailed and updated information can be found on

What subjects are needed in high school to become a Chartered accountant?

You need to have at least a level 5 in English, Mathematics/mathematical literacy (this depends on the tertiary institution you are enrolling in) and accounting (favourably- it is not compulsory, but it is to your advantage). You need to ensure that you get outstanding marks as this course is very competitive. A bachelors pass in your grade 12 final results is compulsory. 

How long does it take to study towards Chartered accountancy in SA?

It varies, on average it's 4 years of university, followed by 3 years of articles before you can qualify as a CA(SA). The good thing is you get paid during articles.

7 years to complete the following before becoming a CA(SA):

  • SAICA-accredited degree in Accounting
  • SAICA-accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (CTA / PGDA)
  • SAICA’s Board 1 – ITC: Initial Test of Competence
  • SAICA’s Board 2- APC: Assessment of Professional Competence
  • SAICA Articles (Traineeship at SAICA-accredited training office)

In a nutshell it can take quite a while because after finishing your accounting degree you must complete your PGDA/CTA (Certificate in the Theory of Accounting) in your honour’s year, you would thereafter need to complete a 3 year training programme (articles).

Once completed you are well on your way to becoming a CA, all that will be left for you to do is write two compulsory board examinations set by SAICA:

The Initial Test of Competence (ITC) and the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). You can write the ITC immediately after completing your CTA, but you must complete a minimum of 20 months (1 year and 8 months) of your training contract.

Once you have completed your learnership (articles), have written and passed both the mentioned Board examinations, you are a licensed Chartered accountant-CA(SA).

What is the salary of a trainee accountant?

After completing your PGDA/CTA you will then enter into a training contract with either an auditing firm or a financial institution such as a bank or Sanlam. Historically working at an auditing firm paid less but gave you more experience in different fields as you get to audit different companies whereas doing you articles at a bank or financial institution paid more initially but limited your experience so that you specialised right from the beginning. According to glassdoor: - Trainee accountant salaries at auditing firms range from R17000 - R19000 per month. - Trainee accountants at financial institutions earn between R21000-R29250 per month

What is the Salary of a Qualified Chartered Accountant?

After articles you can expect your salary to get a significant bump. Entry level CA(SA) salaries start at about R480000/year after articles and can go up to R650,000-700,000 after 2 years of post article experience depending on the size of the company you work for and your salary negotiation skills. Many newly qualified CA(SA)'s choose to go overseas after articles to countries like the UK or Cayman Islands to gain invaluable experience an earn salaries of about $60,000/year (R900,000+) before returning after 18 months or more to higher salaries in South Africa then they would've gotten otherwise.

Top Universities in South Africa and their 2021 fees for an undergraduate degree in Bachelor of commerce in Accounting and Bachelor of accounting science (Chartered Accountant stream) in no particular order:

  1. University of Cape town – Ranges from R 66 280 to R 84 760.

  1. University of Witwatersrand- ranges from R 50 120 to R 56 510. 

  1. University of Kwa-Zulu Natal- ranges from R 43 540 to R46 060.

  1. Stellenbosch University- approximately R 51 074.

  1. University of Pretoria- ranges from R40 000 to R52 000.

  1. University of Free State- ranges from R43 430 to R51 137.

  1. University of Johannesburg- approximately R104 640 (4 years), R26 160 yearly.   

  1. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – approximately R32 600.

Career opportunities:

As a qualified Chartered accountant, you can work in varies fields, you can work as:

  • A tax specialist

  • A financial manager

  • A forensic Auditor 

  • An internal Auditor

  • A business consultant

  • A computer auditor

  • A finance specialist

  • An entrepreneur

  • A teacher/educator

Bursaries and funding opportunities for Accounting students:

Thuthuka Bursary Fund 

A2A Kopano Inc. Bursary Application Form 2021-2022 - South ... – closes September annually.

Altech Bursary South Africa - Bursaries - Detailed list of ...

Bursaries - Student Careers - BDO South Africa

For more bursaries visit and List of ALL South Africa Bursaries for 2021 - 2022 - Study ...

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