Difference Between CA And ICWA

While general opinion is that CA is more tougher than ICWA, there are also people who pursue a combination of both courses. This would be ideally the best option!

If you are wondering which would better suit you after Class 12- a career in Chartered Accountancy (CA) or a career in Cost Accountancy (ICWA), then read on to find out more.


Chartered Accountants (CA) Vs. Cost & Management Accountants (CMA/ CWA)



Chartered Accountancy (CA) is one of the most prestigious qualification in accounting and finance degree. Chartered Accountancy equips a student with thorough knowledge of auditing, taxation and accounting. A Cost Accountant is expected to collect, assimilate, collate and analyze financial information from all areas of the organization. A cost accounting degree equips you with the knowledge on how to manage finance competently.
It is important for students to register with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to appear for the examination.

(Also read: All about the career of a CA)

Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI) [previously known as the Institute of Cost & Works Accountants of India (ICWAI)] promotes, regulates, and develops the profession of Cost & Management Accountancy in India.

(Also read: All about the career of a CMA)

Levels of Chartered Accountancy:

  • Entry Level Test: Common Proficiency Test
  • First Stage of Theoretical Education: Professional Competence Course
  • Final Stage of Theoretical Education: Final Course

Levels of Cost Accountancy: There are 3 levels:

If you have passed 10+2 from any stream from a recognized school, you are eligible to apply for the Common Proficiency Test (CPT). If you have got registered for the Common Proficiency Test 60 days prior to the first day of the month in which CPT examination is to be held can appear in the examination i.e. on or before 1st April and 1st October for appearing in CPT examination to be held in June and December respectively. Common Proficiency Test examinations are held in June & December every year.

Eligibility for admission to "foundation" level: passed Class 10 or equivalent from a recognized Board or Institution.
Eligibility for admission to "intermediate" level: Passed Senior Secondary School Examination (10+2) & Foundation Course of CMA (ICAI)/ Graduation in any discipline other than Fine Arts/ Foundation (Entry Level) Part I Examination of CAT of the Institute/ Foundation (Entry Level) Part I Examination and Competency Level Part II Examination of CAT of the Institute OR Passed Foundation of ICSI/Intermediate of along with 10+2.
Exams are held twice a year - June & December

Candidates would have to work under a senior for three years to qualify for the final examinations

No such requirement.

A Chartered Accountant (CA) has thorough knowledge of every aspect of accounting, auditing and taxation.

A Cost & Management Accountant (CMA) has knowledge of cost & financial management to ensure a balance between expenditures & available resources.

CAs are involved in core accounting work of an organization

Cost accountants are involved in the costing part of financial transactions.

CAs analyse risk and design efficient financial system

Cost Accountants assess the feasibility of projects vis-à-vis available funds

Taxation and auditing are main duties of a chartered accountant

Cost management and designing cost control methods are main duties of a cost accountant   

Important skills required is that of patience and confidence to handle responsibility

Good communication is a key skill in cost accountants

Career Prospect:Chartered accountants are involved in a variety of roles. They are either employed by a company or are practicing chartered accountants. They are involved in:

·         preparing financial statements and management reports
·         liaising with internal and external auditors
·         carrying out taxation and auditing work
·         advising on tax and efficient tax planning
·         preparing the annual reports Quality chartered accountants are always in high demand. Demand for professionally qualified accounting personnel for advising on cost control and financial investments are always high. As a fresher, you will start your career as internal auditor or as a team member in the finance department of an organisation.

Salary: A CA definitely earns more than a CWA. If a CA gets a job into any of the big 4 companies (i.e. Ernst & Young, Deloitte, PWC and KPMG) then startingsalary would easily be Rs.5 lakh per annum. After 5-6 years, they get paid as much as Rs. 12-15 lakh yearly.

Career Prospects: Every organization needs a good cost accountant. You can also take up consultancy work with various firms. With experience and training, cost accountants can hold top management position like Financial Controller, Chief Accountant, Cost Controller, Marketing Manager and Chief Internal Auditor.

Options are also open to CMA (previously CWAs) to directly register in M.Phil and Ph.D. courses in commerce as decided by the Association of Indian Universities. All India Council for Technical Education or AICTE decided that Fellow members of ICWAI will be treated at par with the persons holding Ph.D. degree for appointment in the posts of Professor and Lecturer in Professional and management Institutes.

Salary: CWAs earn lesser, starting off at an average of Rs.3 lakh p.a and getting a pay package of around 8 - 10 lakhs after 5-6 years of work experience.
Also, CWA jobs are generally restricted to the manufacturing industry so scope of employment reduces as compared to CA.


A look at the course structure of Cost & Management Accountancy - CMA (ICAI):

course structure of Cost & Management Accountancy - CMA (ICAI)


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