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An Accountant is a practitioner of accountancy, which is the measurement, disclosure or provision of assurance about financial information that helps managers, investors, tax authorities and other decision makers make resource allocation decisions.

The word "Accountant" is derived from the French word 'Compter' which took its origin from the Latin word 'Computare'. The word was formerly written in English as "Accomptant", but in process of time the word, which was always pronounced by dropping the "p", became gradually changed both in pronunciation and in orthography to its present form.

The Big Four are the largest employers of accountants worldwide.

Commonwealth of Nations & Ireland

In the United Kingdommarker, Canadamarker, Australlia and several other Commonwealth of Nations countries, the equivalents of Certified Public Accountant (CPA) include Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA), Chartered Accountant (CA or ACA), Chartered Management Accountant, International Accountant (AAIA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA - Ireland and CPA - Hong Kong), Certified General Accountant (CGA - Canada), Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA - Australia) and members of the NIA (Australia).

United Kingdom

Except Association of Certified Public Accountants,each of above bodies admits members only after passing examinations and undergoing a period of relevant work experience. Once admitted members are expected to comply with ethical guidelines and gain appropriate professional experience.

Chartered,Chartered Certified,Chartered Public Finance,and International Accountant engaging in practice (i.e. selling services to the public rather than acting as an employee) must gain a "practicing certificate" by meeting further requirements such as purchasing adequate insurance and undergoing inspections.

ICAEW, ICAS, ICAI, ACCA, AIA and CIPFA as six statutory RQB Qualification Bodies in UK, the member of them may also become Registered Auditors in accordance with the Companies Act, providing they can demonstrate the necessary professional ability in that area and submit to regular inspection. It is illegal for any individual or firm that is not a Registered Auditor to perform a company audit.

Further restrictions apply to accountants who carry out insolvency work.

In addition to the bodies above, the Association of Accounting Technicians and Association of Certified Accounting Technicians offers its members training and support in accountancy skills.


In Canada, there are three recognized accounting bodies: the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CA) and the provincial and territorial CA Institutes, the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada , and the Society of Management Accountants of Canada, also known as the Certified Management Accountants (CMA). CA and CGA were created by Acts of Parliament in 1902 and 1913 respectively and CMA was established in 1920.

The CA program focuses on public accounting and candidates must obtain auditing experience from public accounting firms; the CGA program takes a general approach allowing candidates to focus in their own financial career choices; the CMA program focuses in management accounting. The CA and CMA programs require a candidate to obtain a degree as a program entry requirement. The CGA program requires a degree as an exit requirement prior to certification.

Auditing and Public Accounting are regulated by the provinces. Historically, only CAs can perform audits in Ontariomarker. In 2004, the provincial government of Ontariomarker passed a new Public Accounting Act that would allow qualified CGAs and CMAs to perform audits, conditional on their organizations being able to demonstrate that their qualification and regulatory programs are equivalent in rigour to that of the CA program. As of March 2006, this process of evaluation had not yet begun. On November 20, 2009, Quebecmarker passed regulations granting qualified CAs, CGAs and CMAs statutory auditing rights. In British Columbiamarker and Prince Edward Islandmarker, CAs and CGAs have equal status regarding public accounting and auditing; In the rest of Canadamarker, CAs, CGAs, and CMAs are considered equivalents pursuant to provincial and territorial legislation.

As of year 2006, the Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA or FCCA) is also recognized by Canadian government as an eligible qualification to audit federal government institutions in Canada. Furthermore, The Canadian branch of ACCA is pursuing recognition for statutory audit purposes in the province of Ontario under the province's Public Accounting Act of 2004.


In Australia there are four main local professional accountancy bodies.

However, the Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA or FCCA) qualification is also recognized as a prescribed body for insolvency purposes under the Corporation Act 2001, section 1282 and for audit purposes by ASIC under Practice Statement 180 Auditor recognition in Australia.

Additionally the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA) awards the CMA designation, and is specialized in the area of Management Accounting.Description: are excerpt in in finance, taxation, and business leadershipAnd work throughout the world in industryEducation: The education is Skill based and they need to complete 19 courses which are consisted of 2 business cases

New Zealand

In New Zealand, there is only one local accountancy body, the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA).

To audit public companies an individual must be a member of either the NZICA or an otherwise gazetted body. Chartered Certified Accountant (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or FCCA) qualification has also been gazetted under the relevant act (Under Section 199 of the Companies Act 1993: Qualifications of Auditors). An ACCA member can practice as long as they hold an ACCA public practice certificate (with audit qualification) in their country of origin.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, a Chartered Accountant must be a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (designatory letters ACA or FCA), therefore it is the sole local accountancy body. To audit public companies an individual must be a member of the ICASL.


United States of America

In the United Statesmarker, legally practicing accountants are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), and other non-statutory accountants are Certified Internal Auditors (CIAs), Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) and Accredited Business Accountants (ABAs). The difference between these certifications is primarily the legal status and the types of services provided, although individuals may earn more than one certification. Additionally, much accounting work is performed by uncertified individuals, who may be working under the supervision of a certified accountant.

A CPA is licensed by the state of his/her residence to provide auditing services to the public, although most CPA firms also offer accounting, tax, litigation support, and other financial advisory services. The requirements for receiving the CPA license varies from state to state, although the passage of the Uniform Certified Public Accountant examination is required by all states. [9231] This examination is designed and graded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

A CIA is granted a certificate from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), provided that the candidate passed a rigorous examination of four parts. A CIA mostly provides his/her services directly to his/her employer rather than the public.

A CMA is granted a certificate from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), provided that the candidate passed a rigorous examination of four parts and meet the practical experience requirement from the IMA. A CMA mostly provides his/her services directly to his/her employers rather than the public. A CMA can also provide his services to the public, but to an extent much lesser than that of a CPA.

An ABA is granted accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT), provided that the candidate passed the eight-hour Comprehensive Examination for Accreditation in Accounting which tests proficiency in financial accounting, reporting, statement preparation, taxation, business consulting services, business law, and ethics. An ABA specializes in the needs of small-to-mid-size businesses and in financial services to individuals and families. In states where use of the word "accountant” is not permitted by non state licensed individuals, the practitioner may use Accredited Business adviser.

The United States Department of Labormarker's Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are about one million persons [9232] employed as accountants and auditors in the U.S.

U.S. tax law grants accountants a limited form of accountant-client privilege.

Earnings and Wages

Accountants Median Salary per Industry

  • Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services $57,020
  • Management of companies and enterprises $55,560
  • Local government $50,120
  • Depository credit intermediation $49,380
  • State government $47,200

Hong Kong

In Hong Kongmarker, the accountancy industry is regulated by the HKICPA under the Professional Accountants Ordinance (Chapter 50, Laws of Hong Kongmarker). The Auditing industry for limited companies is regulated under the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 32, Laws of Hong Kongmarker), and other Ordinances such as the Securities and Futures Ordinance, the Listing Rules, etc.

Removal of requirement for a qualified accountant in the Listing Rules of Hong Kong
In November 2008, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited has removed the requirement for a qualified accountant from the Listing Rules but expanded the Code Provisions in the Code on Corporate Governance Practices regarding internal controls to make specific references to the responsibility of the directors to conduct an annual review of the adequacy of staffing of the financial reporting function and the oversight role of the audit committee.


In Austria the accountancy profession is regulated by the Bilanzbuchhaltungsgesetz 2006 (BibuG - Management Accountancy Law).


In Portugal, to be a qualified accountant or auditor, having an academic degree is obligatory, and the certification is exclusively awarded by the Ordem dos Revisores Oficiais de Contas (OROC), a professional organization. In general, accountants or auditors accredited by the Ordem dos Revisores Oficiais de Contas are individuals with university graduation diplomas in business management, economics, mathematics and even law, who after further studies, applied for an exam at the Ordem dos Revisores Oficiais de Contas and received the certification to be a ROC (Revisor Oficial de Contas), the highest professional qualification in the field of accountancy. Any citizen having a polytechnic degree as accounting technician is also entitled to apply for the exam and certification at the OROC.


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