CPA practical experience requirements overview

To earn the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, Canada’s pre-eminent accounting and business credential, students and candidates must complete relevant practical experience in addition to formal education and the Common Final Examination.

The CPA certification program meets or exceeds the requirements of regulators, global accounting organizations and the Canadian business community for professional accountants working in both public practice and industry. It provides you with the technical and softer skills you need in today’s business marketplace. The knowledge and competencies you gain through practical experience complement what you gain through education.

The CPA Practical Experience Requirements has been updated to include both the general practical experience requirements for certification as a CPA, and the specific practical experience requirements for those seeking registration to practice public accounting. These requirements come into effect on September 1, 2015. The specific regulations and bylaws of the provincial/regional body and the specific licensing regime or authority within each provincial body to control public accounting take precedence over these general requirements.

There are two routes you can take:

  1. Pre-approved programs in training positions that are offered by your employers and have been pre-approved by the profession. These programs are designed for you to meet the practical experience requirements within 30 months.*
  2. Experience verification. This flexible route allows you to demonstrate competence and have relevant experience recognized as it is gained at an employer of choice.

You can complete your practical experience requirements through either route or in combination.

There are five common elements that support both routes:

  1. You gain relevant experience and develop as a professional accountant in a minimum of 30 months.*
  2. Your experience must be appropriately supervised.
  3. You must record detailed reports at regular intervals.
  4. You must meet and discuss your progress at least semi-annually with a CPA mentor.
  5. Your experience is assessed by the CPA profession.

*NOTE: The national standards for practical experience do not apply to CPA students and candidates in Quebec. These students and candidates should contact CPA Québec for more information.

As an employer, you have certain responsibilities to assist the future CPAs you employ as they complete their practical experience requirements for CPA certification. Learn about the specific requirements and your essential role as an employer.

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