Students are at the crossroads after Class 12 as the stream they choose for higher education decides their career. Good knowledge of the career paths available helps students take wise decision at this crucial stage of their lives.
Among the various streams, Commerce is very popular and a large number of students pursue courses that turn them into a Chartered Accountant (CA), Company Secretary (CS) or Cost Management Accountant (CMA). Even though there are similarities between these three professions, each one is different. So, students should select the career that suits their skills, academic background and preferences. While CAs deal with matters related to finance, auditing and taxes, CMAs have to acquire in-depth knowledge about cost and management accounting. At the same time, students choosing the CS course have to learn about company law and company secretaryship.
Chartered Accountant (CA)
A qualified Chartered Accountant is in big demand in business and financial sectors in India as well as abroad. These professionals are recognized for their skills, standards and preference for accuracy.
A CA is involved in auditing, taxation, accounting and financial planning, all of which are very challenging as well as rewarding tasks.
A student can become a chartered accountant by clearing three parts, CA Foundation, Intermediate and Final Course. The course is conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
Company Secretary (CS)
A Company Secretary is tasked with ensuring that all employees of a company adhere to the regulatory and legal guidelines. In short, a CS professional has a major administrative role in a firm. A CS also has the responsibility to implement the decisions taken by the company’s board. Company Secretary and Legal Advisor are the posts offered to these professionals.
There are three programmes to be cleared to become a CS. They are, Foundation, Executive and Professional. The course is conducted by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India.
Cost Management Accountant (CMA)
A Cost Management Accountant’s tasks include managing and sanctioning funds related to the business by preparing a budget, forecasting, internal controls and reporting. CMA professionals control and reduce the expenses of a company and carry out the cost audit of a company or an organization.
The course, conducted by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India, has three levels – Foundation, Intermediate and Final.
Aspiring students for all these three courses should do their registration online and those who have passed the Plus Two exam are eligible to apply for the Foundation course. The institutes conducting the CA, CS and CMA courses hold Foundation exams twice a year – in May/June and November/December. Meanwhile, graduates are exempted from the Foundation level and they can directly enrol for the Intermediate or Executive level.
An articleship under a practicing professional is mandatory for candidates pursuing a CA, CS or CMA course. This would enable them to acquire practical knowledge and skills.
A large number of coaching centres offer training for CA, CS and CMA students and most of them have online classes too. As these courses and not conducted by regular colleges, students can depend on private coaching centres or teachers for exam preparations.
Things to note
A major advantage of CA, CS and CMA courses is that the expenses involved in pursuing them are much less than other courses. But, students should have a clear idea about the purpose of each course and what they hope to achieve by studying it. They also need to be aware of the posts that are available for candidates clearing CA, CS or CMA. Moreover, a self-analysis would help students choose the course suitable for their personality.
(Information courtesy: CA Ann Joseph (ACA), Jose Marutheth & Company)