Accountants in Canada are responsible for analyzing and organizing the financial records and dealings kept by businesses or individuals. They handle financial budgeting and forecasting. Normally, accountants work for accounting and auditing firms and for all types of businesses both in the private and public sectors. They can also work as contract specialists or consultants.
Based on the report released by the 2011 National Household Survey, there are 28,600 accountants employed both in the public and private sectors with 53% of them females. Around 64% of them are working fulltime. The employment is much higher in the Mainland region followed by Vancouver Island. The number of employments in 2012 increased by 1,600 and is projected to get higher every 5 years.
Before you can work as a professional accountant in Canada, you need to complete the required education and training programs.
Education, Certification and Qualifications
In Canada, there are 3 distinct professional designations for accountants: Chartered Accountants (CAs), Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) and Certified General Accountants (CGAs). Accountants can be also non-designated if they have not earned any professional designation.
- Chartered Accountant (CA)
Becoming a CA (Chartered Accountant) is your entry to a world of opportunities in finance and accounting. CAs are presently in demand because of their financial expertise, business insight, management skills, and strategic thinking.
Chartered Accountants in Canada need to complete a Canadian University Degree or its equivalent. Aside from this, they also need to complete the following:
- Professional training program via the Chartered Accountants School of Business (CASB)
- Uniform Evaluation
- 3 years of paid practical experience and completion of the series of Chartered Accountants School of Business online modules
- Membership in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia
- Certified Management Accountants (CMA)
CMAs need to be a degree holder in a university, completed the Entrance Examination and the CMA Strategic Leadership Program (SLP) professional training program. The SLP training program is a two year course and CMAs are required to complete 24 months of practical experience. Other requirements include:
- Practical experience in a position that involves making business recommendations and decisions in a managerial environment
- Continuing Professional Education (CPE) and adherence to moral standards to maintain the profession
- Membership in the Certified Management Accountants Society of British Columbia (CMASBC)
- Certified General Accountants (CGA)
CGAs must be a degree holder and must complete the 5 levels of the Certified General Accountant program of professional studies. Other requirements include:
- 36 months of work experience.
- Membership in the CGAABCC or Certified General Accountants Association of British Columbia and Canada
Non-designated accountants in practice should have a bachelor degree in accounting science or accounting, a diploma of collegial studies (DEC) in accounting and management technology, or a university certificate in administration or accounting. Other requirements are as follows:
- Familiarity with Excel and with standard accounting software like QuickBooks and Simply Accounting
- Experience in the related occupations of bookkeeper or accounting clerk
Accounting graduates normally start to work at junior positions. Those with experience and advance education maybe promoted to positions in accountant management and financial analysis.
CAs and CGAs may be employed in different areas of business. For instance, many act as tax specialists, forensic accountants or finance managers, chief financial officers, financial editors, and vice-presidents.
CMAs are employed at many levels within the government organization and industry. Most of the CMA graduates are employed at comptroller level as junior accountants, assistant comptrollers or financial analysts. More experienced CMAs may become directors of finance, chief executive officers, senior managers, or deputy ministers. They can become small business partners or owners in accounting firms. They also have the ability to get a career in different areas outside accounting like information technology and international business and marketing.
Accountant’s Duties and Roles
The duties and roles of CAs, CGAs, CMAs and non-designated accountants vary by specific occupation.
- Plan, set up and keep accounting systems and prepare financial reports for companies, businesses and individuals.
- Check accounting records, develop and keep internal control policies and procedures, and prepare financial statements and reports.
- Check financial accounts and record and prepare income tax returns, or analyze financial statements and reports and give advice concerning tax, business and finance.
- Project cash requirements and future earnings, assist financing initiatives to keep bank or equity funding, and handle external relationships which include those with bankers and auditors.
The CGAs are normally employed in the public, government and industry sectors, and can provide more generalized services
CAs are more into public auditing, tax and accounting. CMAs are more experienced in financial management and business analysis.
Non-designated accountants most of the time face restrictions in their practice like the inability to sign off on audits. A professional accounting designation can improve their chances of getting employed.
Salary and Wages
The annual salary for certified accountants in British Columbia is between $76,000 and $147,000. The salary for self-employed accountants may range from $65,000 to $155,000 per year. The hourly rate may range from $16 to $17.
The provincial salary for Accountants in Canada ranges from $66,000 to $95,000. The hourly rate starts at $16.83 to $47.63.
The projected unemployment rate for accountants in Canada will decrease by 1 to 1.2% every five years. Thus, this only means the expected annual demand growth rate will range from 1 to 1.2%. The increase in demand for accountants is seen all over Canada, particularly in British Columbia. By 2022, there will be around 19,400 job openings.