Difference between CGA and CPA

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As time goes by, industries and businesses across the globe grow stronger. They expand their operations globally at a fast pace and reach the global market on daily basis. With the expansion of these businesses and industries, the management and financial reporting becomes very complex. Professional and standard setting bodies make every effort to have the accounting laws and standards streamlined in order to win the confidence of stakeholders by meeting their needs and requirements with efficiency in reporting financial activities which would be beneficial in decision making.

As such, all major countries across the globe have professional bodies that offer individuals professional certifications in a bid to equip them with the requisite and updated finance and business knowledge. The professional bodies make endless efforts to ensure their courses are up to date and stay on course to the most recent development in the field of accountancy. This is done to ensure that professional accountants from these professional bodies are competent in dealing efficiently and effectively with national as well as international matters. This will be beneficial for accountants to stay updated with current market changes and hence will be of great help to business industries and communities internationally. This will also help in keeping the reporting and finance operations in line with the various laws and requirements of the global market.

While the basic accounting principles are similar everywhere, every country has got its own regulations in taxation, allowable deductions, exemptions, tax regulations, exemptions, rates of depreciation and many more. Accountants are expected to be especially knowledgeable of their own accounting standards in their individual countries; many countries have got their own certification programs in professional accountancy. Accounting professionals in the US are known as CPAs or certified public accountants while in Canada they are referred to as CGAs or certified general accountants.


Required Qualification

For one to become a CPA, a person must meet certain educational requirements and experience needed. Additionally, an individual is required to go through various rigorous examinations to become a certified public accountant. This involves pursuing a bachelor’s degree, 24 business subjects semester units, 24 accounting subjects semester units, pass the general CPA exam, 225 quarter education units or 150 semester units of education if he has one year experience in general accounting under the supervision of a CPA and passes the CPA professional ethical exam.

On the other hand, CGA’s overall structure differs from the CPA program. Candidates are expected to complete 19 courses and examinations approved by the accounting body of CGA Canada. They may enter the course without a degree. The first 17 courses comprises of the basic curriculum in the accounting undergraduate degree. Therefore, if one has an accounting degree, he may complete the two remaining professional career courses and get to be a CGA.

Subjects and Exam Structure

CPA is a four part examination that is computer based. This is a standard exam that is taken by individuals across the U.S and covers such subjects as financial reporting and accounting for non- profits and businesses, regulations and tax system, attestation and auditing procedures and standards, information technology, financial planning and business concepts and environments.

In order to qualify for CGA, one has to pass the comprehensive examinations that include matters in professional Practice (P1) and (p2) Strategic Finance management.


Since they offer their services to businesses and individuals, CPAs are expected to have a strong background in accounting.

CGA examination is intended in assessing the candidate’s ability to perform tasks professionally and to attain a strong accounting grip such as related and assurance services, taxation, ethics, financial accounting and reporting, management accounting, financial planning and information technology.

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