Professional Accounting Qualifications Vs a Degree in Accounting
The image of accountants as dull, middle-aged men dressed in grey suits is fast disappearing. The accounting profession is associated with high salaries and a bewildering array of career opportunities including traditional auditing and assurance work, management consulting, IT consulting, human resources and insolvency. Its close involvement with every aspect of business success and financial integrity makes accounting practice a prestigious and honourable profession.
Qualifying as an accountant
In order to be a practising accountant in Malaysia, a person must be a chartered accountant. A chartered accountant is someone who holds a recognised accountancy qualification from MIA.
There are 3 options available for students to become a chartered accountant:
- Students may apply to MIA upon passing of the final examination of a recognised undergraduate degree programme and having gained 3 years of relevant working experience.
- Students without a recognised degree need to pass the MIA Qualifying Examination and gain 3 years of relevant working experience.
- Instead of pursuing an undergraduate degree course, students may opt to acquire a professional accounting qualification issued by professional accounting bodies through their respective professional examinations.
The similarities between professional programmes and general degree programmes
They meet the high academic, professional, and ethical standards required of accounting graduates through the following competencies:
- maintaining confidentiality and upholding ethical standards
- preparing financial information and financial statements
- complying with legal and regulatory requirements, and the latest accounting standards of the IASB (International Accounting Standards Board) and the IASC (International Accounting Standards Committee).
- preparing and interpreting financial statements
- enhanced communication skills
The differences between professional programmes and general degree programmes
- The core knowledge and skills required of professional programme members to work as accountants are consistent throughout the world.
- Professional programme students are examined according to a single international standard. Syllabus content varies only with regard to national legislation and taxation provisions.
- Employers, as well as corporate and individual ‘end users’ of accounting services anywhere in the world can be confident that professional programme members have a sound working knowledge of the accounting principles they have been examined on.
- Professional programmes provide opportunity and access to people of ability around the world and support members throughout their careers through an international approach and reach.
- Professional programmes enjoy and owe much of their reputations to the active role played in developing the accountancy profession by working with many accounting organisations at international, regional and local levels.
- Degree programmes, on the other hand, offer more interaction among students especially during project work.
|At a glance||Professional accounting qualifications||Degree in accounting|
|Brief description||Awared by professional bodies of accounting||Awarded by a university|
|Duration||Flexible. Students can choose the subjects they want to enrol in and plan the duration of study accordingly||A specified period of about 3 years|
|Assessments||Based mostly on final examinations||Based on both coursework and examinations|
|Fees||Fees are lower than degree programmes but members are expected to pay membership fees annually.||Fees may be relatively higher|
83 per cent of employers believe ‘few qualifications offer the degree of international recognition and professional credibility’ that comes with the Chartered Accountant designation (Source: Research International 2003).
Offers flexibility - student can choose the mode of study and how many subjects to take.
Professional accounting bodies have offices and exam centres all over the world. Students can take professional examinations in home countries.
The common approach applied throughout the world ensures that Professional Programs members have a sound working knowledge of accounting as well as a standard level of competency.
|Examinations are held more frequently throughout the year, enabling students to register for more subjects in an academic year.|
Offers more interactions among students especially during project work and group assignments.
|Who is it for?||Working students||Non-working students|
Indeed, there are many more similarities between accountants who qualify through degree programmes and those who qualify through professional programmes, than most people realise. The biggest one, however, is that both groups get to know their clients intimately and spend their professional careers trying to make their clients’ lives as easy and as ‘pain–free’ as possible. Both groups are therefore vital to the success of corporations and individuals.
Prior to his appointment at Nilai, Alaz served as a consultant and accountant for many business organisations (retail, property, manufacturing companies and academic institutions). He enjoys giving motivational speeches and providing career coaching.
This article first appeared in doctorjob's coursesNOW! Business 2007.