becoming a CA

Being a Chartered Accountant is a thrilling, enriching and fulfilling career. It provides countless opportunities for you to challenge yourself, learn new things, make big decisions and be an important part of the business world.

By becoming a part of the CA Training Office program, you’re given the opportunity to develop the skills, abilities and qualities of a CA in an environment that will allow you to grow into a business leader of tomorrow. 


[+] Qualifying Practical Experience

All CA students fulfill their practical experience requirements by working in a CA Training Office, which may be in a CA firm, the corporate sector or the public sector. Whatever the type or size of a CA Training Office, every CA student will gain the competencies required of an entry-level CA by meeting the rigourous practical experience requirements of the profession, including:

  • Minimum term of practical experience
  • Breadth and Depth of competency development
  • Completion of the Record of CA Qualifying Practical Experience (RQE)
  • Appropriate supervision and mentorship, and
  • Reporting to the profession.

A CA Training Office is considered capable of training CA students when it is able to demonstrate the ability to satisfy all of these requirements. While the profession will periodically meet with the CA Training Office to discuss and monitor the program, it’s the regular discussions between the CA student and the CA Training Office that ensure students are progressing towards achieving the expected competency standards.


[+] Minimum Term of Practical Experience

The minimum term of practical experience for all CA students is three years, including graduate-level professional education, and students must complete this minimum term within a rolling five-year period. Within this period, students must develop two types of competencies: Pervasive Qualities and Skills and Specific Competencies.


[+] Breadth and Depth of Competency Development

The specific competencies developed depends on the CA Training Office at which the CA student is working. While CA Training Offices are approved based on their ability to develop the required competencies, the agreed-upon competencies and competency areas will vary among CA Training Offices. All CA students are exposed to at least three competency areas in varying degrees throughout the program – one competency area as their Depth and two others as their Breadth areas. Students wishing to learn more about the Depth and Breadth areas in their CA Training Office should speak to their Counselling Member or Training Principal.


[+] Proficiency Levels

Each Depth and Breadth competency area has its own proficiency level requirements, set out as Level 0, Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 0 assumes students have had little or no exposure to that competency.

At Level 1 they have the basic knowledge and skills required to complete assigned tasks.

When students reach Level 2, they are able to work independently at a level reasonably expected of an entry-level CA.

Read examples and a more detailed explanation of the expectations at each Proficiency Level

Because the development of specific competencies is an integral part of the program, it’s important to take a look at the Depth and Breadth areas in greater detail.


[+] Depth of Experience

To develop and demonstrate their proficiency as an entry-level CA, students typically spend a minimum of one-third of their practical experience-term developing their Depth competencies.

The area of depth can be in any of the competency areas. At the end of their practical experience, students must have had the opportunity to gain direct working experience in ALL of the specific competencies within their Depth area, meaning they must be at Level 1 or above.

For students who may wish to practice public accounting in the future, there are some additional specific requirements. These include choosing Assurance as the area of depth and specific hours requirements on audit, review and taxation engagements (see FAQ Section 6: Practical experience requirements for the practice of public accounting).

Students must also be at Level 2 on their last RQE for more than half the specific competencies, meaning they can demonstrate the ability to work independently in the majority of the competencies within their chosen Depth area at a level reasonably expected of an entry-level CA.

Minimum Requirements on Final RQE for Chosen Depth Area:

Specific Competency AreasMinimum # of Competencies at Level 1Minimum # of Competencies at Level 2Total Competencies in That Area
Performance Measurement and Reporting347
Governance, Strategy and Risk Management246
Management Decision-Making347



[+] Breadth of Experience

In addition to their Depth area, CA students must develop two Breadth competency areas.

At the end of their term of practical experience, students are expected to be at Level 1 or above on their final RQE, so they must have had direct working experience in at least half of the competencies in their two Breadth areas.

They must also be able to demonstrate the ability to work independently – have a Level 2 proficiency – in one-half of the competencies in which they have direct experience.

If a CA student’s area of Depth is not Performance Measurement and Reporting or Assurance, they must develop a Level 2 proficiency in three specific competencies identified in Performance Measurement and Reporting. Achieving these three competencies at Level 2 satisfies the requirement for one Breadth area.

Minimum Requirements on Final RQE for Your Chosen Breadth Areas:

Specific Competency AreasMinimum # of Competencies at Level 1Minimum # of Competencies at Level 2Total Competencies in That Area
Performance Measurement and Reporting227
Governance, Strategy and Risk Management126
Management Decision-Making227


Learn more about Depth and Breadth competency development


[+] Illustrative Examples

Some CA students and CA Training Offices have expressed concern that the wording of some specific competencies appear to be beyond what would be reasonably expected of an entry-level CA, making it difficult for a CA student to develop a level 2 proficiency by the end of their practical experience. What’s important to understand is that the level of involvement required to develop a given competency at a Level 2 proficiency will vary among CA Training Offices, depending on the level of complexity (complexity of the task, the client and the organization).

When a Training Office is approved by the profession, it's approved to develop specified Depth and Breadth competency areas based on the practical experience outlined by the organization. It should give CA students some peace of mind to know that the CA Training Office is committed to allocating the responsibilities required to develop these competency areas.

To provide some clarity on proficiency levels, see FAQ Section 5: Proficiency expected of CA students.

If you have further questions about competency development, feel free to check out our FAQs

In addition to these Specific Competencies, each CA student must have the opportunity, through work experience, to develop and demonstrate all of the Pervasive Qualities and Skills.


Chartered Professional Accountants/ Comptables professionnels agréés

Welcome to CPA Canada!

CPA Canada is the national organization established to support unification of the Canadian accounting profession under the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. CPA Canada provides services to all CPA, CA, CMA and CGA accounting bodies that have unified or are committed to unification.

Our integrated CPA Canada website is currently in development and will launch in fall 2014. Until that time, all our existing resources, services and information are available through the CICA, CMA Canada and CGA-Canada legacy websites, or through newly developed microsites designed to provide specific CPA content.

Bienvenue à CPA Canada!

CPA Canada est l’organisation nationale établie pour soutenir l'unification de la profession comptable canadienne sous la bannière du titre de comptable professionnel agréé (CPA). CPA Canada fournit des services à toutes les organisations comptables de CPA, de CA, de CMA et de CGA qui se sont déjà unifiées ou qui sont engagées dans le processus d’unification.

Le nouveau site de CPA Canada est actuellement en développement et sera mis en ligne à l’automne 2014. Entre-temps, toutes nos ressources et tous nos services sont accessibles sur les sites d’origine de l’ICCA, de CMA Canada et de CGA-Canada, ou sur des microsites nouvellement créés afin de donner accès à du contenu spécifiquement CPA.