How to Become a CPA in Ontario-10 Best Steps

Are you searching for steps on how to become a CPA in Ontario? Are you looking to earn extra income or start your own business? If so, becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) might be the perfect career choice for you.

A CPA is someone who has passed a rigorous exam and is qualified to audit financial statements and prepare tax returns for individuals and businesses. 

The job requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance and at least four years of experience in accounting.

You can get started by taking the CPA Exam. Once you pass the test, you’ll receive a license from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). This allows you to practice accountancy in Canada.

What is a CPA’s role? 

An expert in business and finance is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). Taxes are only one aspect of being an accountant. 

To pursue a profession that’s suited for you and utilize the knowledge that a CPA designation provides, you can build on any of your talents, including leadership, technical competence, strategic or analytical thinking, and technical thinking.

The Benefits of becoming a CPA Designation

A CPA designation offers career security, the potential for advancement, and competitive compensation. 

In Ontario, a CPA makes an average compensation of $130,000. After only three years of designation, the median wage exceeds $90,000. 

Through a variety of job routes, you can also follow your interests and sense of purpose

Requirements For Becoming A CPA Designation in Ontario 

You can finish the CPA program in around two to three years after earning your four-year degree. The four key steps to becoming a CPA are as follows: 

  • Prerequisite education, such as a bachelor’s degree and academic requirements 
  • Professional Education for CPAs (PEP) 
  • successful completion of the common final exams (CFE) 
  • need real-world experience

Prerequisite education

The majority of people begin with an undergraduate degree in business or accounting. The subjects covered in these post-secondary degrees are necessary to later take the CPA PEP. 

Financial accounting, managerial accounting, accounting and financial fundamentals, information technology, and economics are among the courses that must be taken. 

For these courses to qualify as CPA PEP prerequisites, you must achieve a specific grade and average.

In post-secondary accounting programs, additional courses like Corporate Financial Reporting and Taxation are typical. 

These courses can aid in other aspects of the CPA process like the CFE and practical experience. 

But let’s say your undergraduate studies weren’t in accounting or business and you now want to become a certified public accountant. 

In this situation, you have the option of continuing your program or enrolling in school once more in order to take the necessary PEP courses. 

For those with at least eight years of relevant work experience, there is an alternative route to entry into the CPA PEP. You can avoid having to get an undergraduate degree by choosing this option.

CPA Professional Educational Program

Six modules make up the graduate-level CPA PEP program, which you may enroll in to further your accounting knowledge and get ready for the CFE: 

  • Financial Reporting, Strategy and Governance, Management Accounting, Audit and Assurance, Finance, and Taxation are among the Core 1 and 2 subjects; 
  • Assurance, Performance Management, Taxation, and Finance are among the Elective 1 and 2 subjects;
  • Capstone 1, which covers professional skills, competency integration, and leadership skills 
  • Capstone 2, which aids applicants in honing their writing abilities and getting ready for the CFE 

A Master’s or graduate accounting diploma is one of the CPA certification degrees offered by some postsecondary institutions. 

While graduate diploma programs typically allow you to skip the Core and Elective parts, Master of Accounting degrees (MAcc) can exempt CPA candidates from the entire PEP procedure.

Common Final Examination 

The CFE is a three-day test that covers the PEP’s conclusion. Students must exhibit their comprehension of management accounting and financial reporting, as well as their depth of expertise in other PEP areas. 

The exam is given by CPA Canada, and candidates must have completed their undergraduate studies and PEP before taking it. 

Recent exams began with a four-hour case-based exam pertaining to Capstone 1 on the first day. 

Day 2 lasted for five hours. It evaluated a candidate’s knowledge in management accounting and one of the four PEP electives (1&2), as well as financial reporting.

Candidates took a four-hour exam on day three to gauge their technical and enabling skills. 

The most recent 2021 exam had three to four cases that took between forty and ninety minutes to finish. 

Candidates are eligible to acquire their CPA designation after finishing the CFE and practical experience portions.

Practical Experience

The CPA designation requires a minimum of 30 months of full-time relevant accounting experience in addition to academic coursework and tests. 

At least one semi-annual progress discussion with your CPA mentor is required, and you will be closely overseen and the CPA profession will evaluate your experience.

Pre-CPA roles are frequently available at organizations, particularly Fortune 500 companies or accounting firms, allowing individuals to complete their required 30 weeks of practical experience. 

When other CPAs went through the designation process, these paid positions previously met the criteria for “practical experience.” 

Along with adhering to CPA Canada’s regulations, they streamline the job to effectively provide mentors, progress reports, and monitoring.

How to become a CPA in Ontario: The Steps

Your decision over whether to pursue this career path can be influenced by learning how to become a chartered professional accountant. 

The stages you can take to obtain a CPA are as follows:

1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Make sure you satisfy CPA Canada’s requirements before pursuing CPA certification, one of which includes earning an appropriate undergraduate degree. 

Any degree can qualify you for the certification, but to offer you the fundamental information needed to become a certified professional accountant, think about enrolling in accounting, finance, business, or a similar school. 

You can enroll in CPA Canada’s PREP course, which takes about two years to finish if your degree doesn’t include a relevant curriculum that counts toward the CPA qualification.

It’s crucial to pay attention to your coursework since CPA Canada may request a transcript when you apply for the CPA professional education program in order to evaluate your marks. 

Your chances of being accepted into the program rise as a result. Three to four years are normally needed to earn an undergraduate degree.

2. Apply for the CPA professional educational program 

You can apply for the CPA professional education program once you have earned your bachelor’s degree (PEP). 

Check with your local CPA branch to make sure you satisfy all requirements before submitting an application because each province and territory has different requirements. 

When submitting an application, be sure to include your contact information, academic history, and details.

3. Finish six modules in the CPA PEP

Six modules must be finished over the course of two years if you are accepted into the CPA professional education program. 

Students must pass an exam before moving on to the next module. These are some of the modules:

  • Financial Reporting, Strategy and Governance, Management Accounting, Audit and Assurance, Finance, and Taxation are among the Core 1 and 2 subjects; 

  • Assurance, Performance Management, Taxation, and Finance are among the Elective 1 and 2 subjects;

  • Capstone 1, which covers professional skills, competency integration, and leadership skills 

  • Capstone 2, which aids applicants in honing their writing abilities and getting ready for the CFE 

4. Complete 30 months of accounting experience 

You must have 30 months of accounting experience in addition to the coursework you complete during the CPA PEP in order to graduate from the program. 

The curriculum was created by CPA Canada so that students could work in the accounting field concurrently. 

There are two ways you can fulfill the need for practical experience:

  • The pre-approved program route: CPA Canada frequently collaborates with local businesses that provide students with training and employment opportunities. This provides you with a mentor who can support you as they learn about the program, the mentor said. 
  • The alternative method of experience verification is to choose your own workplace, however, CPA Canada normally approves your selection. This option requires you to locate a CPA mentor who is prepared to help and mentor you.

5. Pass the common final Examination 

To receive their CPA designation, all candidates must sit for and pass the identical final examination. 

The examination, which is three days long, gauges students’ proficiency in the following areas:

  • contemporary financial reporting

  • management

  • accounting

  • governance 

  • Finance

  • taxation

  • professionalism auditing 

  • ethical conduct 

  • oral and written communication

  • problem-solving

  • decision-making

6. Get and maintain your certification 

The CPA designation can be obtained after passing the common final examination and accumulating 30 months of accounting experience. 

Prepare to finish continuing education programs every year in order to preserve it. 

It’s common to need 30 hours of continuing education to keep your certification, though your province or territory may have more stringent requirements. Additionally, there are annual CPA membership dues.

7. Apply for the position of Chartered Professional Accountant 

You can begin applying for chartered professional accounting positions after receiving your qualification. 

Look for suitable job posts on employment boards or on the websites of certain companies. 

You require an updated résumé in order to apply for these vacancies. Include your new certification next to your name at the top of your resume to draw attention to it. 

Include your designation at the top of your resume to entice potential employers to keep reading. This is one of the first things they look for to confirm your qualifications.

CPA Ontario Salary and Working Conditions 

A chartered professional accountant makes, on average, $66,962 a year. The average annual compensation for an accountant in Ontario is $59,291, therefore earning the CPA designation can increase your income.

Chartered professional accountants often have their own offices and work in corporate settings. Some people work from home and communicate digitally with their colleagues or clients.

Although most CPAs work a standard 40-hour work week, they might need to put in more hours during the year’s busiest financial periods, like tax season. 

Chartered professional accountants operate primarily independently but also frequently with other finance department personnel, senior-level executives, and accounting staff.

Job Outlook For a CPA In Ontario

  • Forensic Accounting 

In forensic accounting, the finances of people or companies are examined and understood using accounting, auditing, and investigation procedures. 

Financial crimes like money laundering, insurance fraud, and securities fraud are covered, as well as their prevention and investigation.

  • Tax Accountant 

A tax accountant aids in the completion and filing of tax forms by firms and individuals. They are authorities on both provincial and federal rules as well as tax law. 

They make sure that their customers are abiding by the law and that they are not skipping out on any deductions or benefits while doing so.

  • Entrepreneur 

Being a CPA is extremely useful for business owners, and the designation is relevant in any sector. 

You will be in a position to make wise and strategic choices when it comes to beginning, developing, and managing a firm.

  • Sport Accountant 

Love sports with all your heart? The major and lower leagues benefit from the financial and strategic knowledge of sports accountants. 

They frequently handle intricate tax reporting for the team as well as payroll for the players, coaches, and staff.

  • Auditors

Forensic auditing is a specialty that auditors can pursue to look into financial crimes. They can also serve as internal auditors to look for financial mismanagement, wasted spending, and suggest ways to streamline procedures.

  • Climate Accountant 

By ensuring that businesses consistently report on environmental variables and climate indicators, climate accountants aid in the fight against climate change. 

Additionally, they can serve as consultants that can offer technical expertise in greenhouse gas accounting standards, assess business practices, and comprehend and analyze climate data.

  • Educator 

A job as a CPA educator is another option open to them. For instance, Matthew Roman, a CPA, teaches tax as an assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s Teaching Stream

Additionally, he oversees CPA Canada’s In-Depth Tax Program. At KPMG, he has also provided technical tax training and knowledge management. 

It’s critical that CPAs mentor and assist aspiring accountants. Because of this, CPA Ontario assists its members who pursue careers in teaching and research. Below are the frequently asked questions about how to become a CPA in Ontario.

What Academic Steps Must I Complete To Become A CPA? 

Training Requirements for CPA 

This typically entails earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, although if enough accounting coursework are taken while earning a master’s degree in accounting or another business subject, it is also possible to meet this criterion.

How Long Does It Take To Pass The Ontario CPA Exam? 

6.5 to 7.0 years 

In general, CPA candidates complete their designation in six to seven years, which includes the typical four years required for undergraduate studies. 

Accounting professionals typically complete the PEP program after graduation, which is a two-year part-time study, while finishing their 30 months of practical experience.

What Distinguishes An Accountant From A Chartered Professional Accountant? 

Accountants and CPAs are not the same things. A professional with a bachelor’s degree in accounting often works as an accountant. 

A practitioner who has obtained their Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) credential by a combination of education, experience, and testing is known as a CPA.

What Are CPAs’ Salaries in Ontario? 

While the median pay (a more reliable measure) is $130,000, the average CPA compensation in Ontario is $185,000. 

Remember that this figure includes top earners, entry-level CPAs, and everyone in between.

Do I Need An Accounting Degree To Become A CPA? 

You must possess a recognized undergraduate degree (bachelor in accounting or bachelor of business administration with an emphasis in professional accounting) or successfully complete the equivalent of a degree or training process in order to be admitted to the CPA Professional Education Program.


If you’re interested in becoming a CPA in Ontario, we can help. This article will help one find their field and are ready to provide you with all of the information that you need to make an informed decision about your future career path. 

We hope this article has assisted in finding out how you can get started on the path to becoming a CPA in Ontario!

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