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CA or Cost Accountancy – Which is Better Choice

In a society that over values Engineering and Medical courses, Chartered Accounting and Cost Accounting standout as dream careers. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has consistently been churning out meritorious students since its inception in 1949. Around 9 lakh students have enrolled till now and out of that around 1.75 lakh have passed over the past 60 years. This would mean on an average around 3,000 Chartered Accountants join the profession every year. Of late the number of CAs joining the profession each year has moved up to 10,000 plus. As of now 4.5 lakh are still pursuing CA. There is a steady surge in the number of girl students opting for CA course in the recent past. Around a lakh new enrollments take place every year.

The Institute of Cost and works Accountants of India, which was recently rechristened as “the Institute of Cost Accountants of India“ is the only recognized statutory professional organization and licensing body in India specializing exclusively in Cost and Management Accountancy. The institute has 50,000 members and overseas training and qualification of 4,00,000 students aspiring to be Cost Accountants. The need for cost accountants too is growing making this profession also a dream career. You may have several questions and doubts on cost accountancy career, for which answers were given in another article.

Stages in completing Chartered Accountancy and Cost Accountancy:

There are three stages in both Chartered Accountancy and Cost Accountancy. The stages in Chartered Accountancy are Common Proficiency Test (CPT), Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC) and IPCC Final. There are two groups in IPCC. After passing Group - I of IPCC, a candidate must undergo a rigorous 3 year on-the-job training as article or audit assistant, articleship. Only members in practice are entitled to engage such assistants. IPCC Final also has two groups. The three stages in Cost Accountancy are Foundation, Intermediate and Final. Intermediate and Final stages have two groups each.

Both the Institutes are integrating skill development courses such as IT Training and Communication skills in these professional programs to meet the corporate requirement for computer and soft skills. It is generally perceived that Cost and Management Accounting is more difficult to qualify than Chartered Accountancy. However demand for Chartered Accountants is more than the demand for Cost Accountants.


The foundation course examinations are held in June and December every year in both the programs. The IPCC and IPCC Final examinations are conducted during May and November every year. In the case of Cost Accountant the examinations are conducted during June and December every year.

While both Chartered Accountants and Cost Accountants are high profile career paths, the market pays higher compensation for CAs. Because of the statutory role that the Chartered Accountants have in certification of Company accounts, they can also have thriving private practice. The growth in the industry during the post-liberalization era has led to high demand for both Chartered Accountant and Cost Accountants. There was no corresponding growth in the qualified professionals. Hence the demand for these professional is here to stay.

A Chartered Accountant usually starts his career with a package of around Rs.6-8 lakh. For successful Chartered Accountants the sky is the limit for their earning potential. The Cost Accounts do have good earnings package, but may be marginally lower than the Chartered Accountants.

Differences between CA and CMA:

1. The Chartered Accountancy course equips the student with in depth knowledge on every aspect of accounting, auditing and taxation where as the Cost Accountant would focus more on cost and financial management leading to a fine balance between expenditure and the available resources.

2. Chartered Accountants are involved in the core accounting work that is a part of day-to-day business. Cost Accountants concentrate on the costing of the financial transactions.

3. Chartered Accountants analyse risk and design of effective financial systems, work on optimizing taxation and undertake auditing work and are authorised to certify the annual reports and balance sheets. On the other hand the Cost Accountants assess the feasibility of projects, design cost controls and management systems for effective cost cutting measures.

4. The skill requirement for Chartered Accountant includes logical and methodical approach in work, attention to details, patience and confidence to handle responsibility. A Cost Accountant needs analytical mind to interpret facts and figures, logical approach in work, attention to detail, ability to communicate expressly and clearly.

5. Those who are extremely good at accounting and number crunching should opt for Chartered Accountancy. For those who are comfortable with accounting and interested in cost management part of it, Cost Accountancy is the right course.

6. In terms of earnings potential, CA is considered to be better as it has got more scope for employment. A Cost Accountant is eligible to undertake Cost Audit under Sec. 233B. But a Chartered Accountant can undertake Cost Audit as well as Statutory Audit. Chartered Accountants are preferred for Tax Audit. Despite continuous efforts to increase the awareness on Cost Audit, many companies are still not implementing this for various reasons.

There are many career opportunities for commerce students. But the dream careers are offered by Chartered Accountancy and Cost Accountancy. Those who want to reach top positions and would like to get involved in high level decision making should pursue these programs. For the hardworking and intelligent students moving away from Engineering and Medicine and pursuing courses like Chartered Accountancy and Cost Accountancy are more lucrative. These professions are promising and success is within the reach of the students. Let a million dreams come true in this fascinating world of accounting and finance. But in the end it all depends on your Dedication to Studies and Experience. Earnings grow automatically.

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