Are you considering a career in accounting or finance? If so, becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) might be the ideal path for you. CPAs are highly regarded professionals in the world of business and finance, and earning this designation can open doors to a wide range of exciting career opportunities. In this blog, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to get your CPA in BC, answering crucial questions along the way.

How long does it take to get your CPA in BC?

The journey to becoming a CPA in British Columbia is a rewarding one, but it requires dedication and time. The process typically takes around four to five years to complete, but it can vary depending on your individual circumstances and the route you choose to pursue.

What steps do you have to take to get your CPA?

Getting your CPA Designation involves a combination of education, practical experience and a final examination. Here’s a breakdown of the typical journey to becoming a CPA in BC:

1. Education

To start your CPA journey, you must complete a recognized post-secondary program. This typically includes an undergraduate degree or equivalent in accounting or a related field. 

2. CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP)

The CPA PEP is a graduate-level program you must complete in order to become a CPA. The program is administered by the CPA Western School of Business. The purpose is to enhance your accounting skills and knowledge while preparing you to thrive in a professional setting. The CPA PEP program will generally take 1-2 years to complete.

3. Practical experience

Practical experience is a significant part of becoming a CPA. You’ll need to accumulate a minimum of 30 months of relevant work experience, during which you’ll develop the necessary skills and competencies to excel in your profession. You may complete this experience in any company’s accounting/finance department or at a public practice CPA firm like RHN.

4. Prepare for the Common Final Examination (CFE)

Once you’ve completed your practical experience, you’ll need to dedicate several months to prepare for the CFE. This includes participating in preparatory programs and mock exams to ensure you’re fully prepared for the rigorous examination.

5. Take the CFE

After completing your education, you’ll need to prepare for and pass the CFE, a three-day examination that assesses your competency in various areas of accounting and finance. Preparing for the CFE can take several months, depending on your study schedule and the resources you use.

6. CPA certification

After successfully passing the CFE and meeting the practical experience requirements, you will be awarded the CPA designation. This achievement signifies that you have reached the pinnacle of your accounting profession.

It’s important to note that these timelines are approximate, and individual circumstances may lead to variations. Some candidates may complete their CPA journey faster, while others may take longer due to part-time studies or extended practical experience.

Does a CPA Require Articleship?

Unlike some other professional qualifications, such as becoming a Chartered Accountant (CPA), the CPA designation in British Columbia does not require articleship or articling. Instead, it focuses on practical experience.

As mentioned earlier, to become a CPA, you need to accumulate 30 months of relevant work experience. This experience is designed to ensure that you have practical knowledge and skills in areas such as financial reporting, assurance, management accounting, and taxation. You’ll work under the supervision of experienced CPAs or other qualified professionals during this period, gaining hands-on experience in real-world accounting scenarios.

This approach allows candidates to gain practical exposure across various accounting domains, which is a valuable aspect of the CPA program. It also means that candidates are not bound by traditional articling requirements, providing more flexibility in their career paths.

Want to become a CPA? We can help you on your journey.

Becoming a Certified Professional Accountant opens doors to a wide range of exciting career opportunities in the world of accounting and finance. If you’re thinking about starting on the path to a CPA Designation, RHN can help you with your practical experience component. We frequently hire students and CPA Candidates to work on our team and make a point to provide them with the support, mentorship and flexibility they need to complete their practical experience requirements, finish their CPA PEP modules and write their Common Final Examination with confidence.

Learn more about what we offer our team members.

This post has been prepared for general information purposes. It is not advice. The information presented may not fit your unique situation, please consult one of our trusted business advisors at RHN CPA for further clarification and interpretation of your circumstances.