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Requirements to be a practising accountant in Australia

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It’s safe to say that accountants are an essential sector in Australia, and around the world. The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) last counted over 3 million chartered accountants worldwide, and of that, according to Chartered Accountants ANZ (CPAC), only 3.9% are based in Australia and New Zealand. Take a Tumble reported that “demand for accountants in Australia surged in 2021, with 71% of leading firms reporting difficulty finding and  keeping quality staff.” Whilst the opportunities are plenty, competition is still stiff and there are certain boxes one needs to tick to practice as an accountant in Australia. 

Obtain Tertiary Qualifications

To become a practicing accountant in Australia, you are required to have a tertiary qualification. Most students complete their degree at an accredited institution of higher learning such as university or TAFE; the courses offered leading to a tertiary qualification are highly regulated to ensure they are of high quality to meet the industry's demands. To determine the degree course you need for certification, you should review the Certified Practising Accountants (CPA) or the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) websites for their educational requirements.

Gain a Recognised Accounting Qualification

Having tertiary qualifications alone will not make you a practising accountant in Australia. In addition to your qualifications, you must have a recognised qualification such as the CPA or Chartered Accountant (CA) to practice. Before joining a company, ensure they require a recognised accounting qualification to avoid any disappointments in the future.


Before one qualifies as an accountant in Australia, it is mandatory to have practical experience in the industry. Gaining experience can be through apprenticeships or internships, where an individual can work under the supervision of experienced professionals. An apprenticeship program usually takes longer than an internship, approximately three to four years, which involves attending a training institution and working with an employer to obtain on-the-ground experience.

Register with a Professional Accounting Body

All accounting professionals need to register with an accounting professional body in Australia. Membership to a body demonstrates a level of competence and a commitment to comply with the ethical and professional standards governing the accounting profession in Australia. The most reputable organizations for membership are CPA or IPA.

Continue Professional Education

To keep up with the changes in the accounting industry as new technology emerges, all professionals in the field are required to continue their professional development (CPD). The CPD program offered by accounting organizations like CPA varies depending on the area of specialization; however, they all require participants to stay updated on changes in taxation laws and regulations.

In conclusion, becoming an accountant in Australia is a rigorous process that requires tertiary qualifications, recognised accounting qualifications, practical industry experience, membership to professional accounting bodies, and continuing professional development. Companies must ensure that they hire accountants who have met all the requirements to guarantee that they are skilled and ethical professionals.

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