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The Work of a Chartered Accountant

Accountants are trained to examine, interpret and plan all types of financial transactions. There are those who work in accountancy firms and deal with such matters as auditing, analysing, verifying and interpreting clients’ accounts, advising on taxation, management information systems and in financial planning and reporting. Others are employed in industry and commerce or by local authorities and are concerned to a greater extent with financial planning and allocating of funds. Some accountants, after qualifying, specialise in such areas as taxation, auditing or information technology applications. They may also specialise in clients from a particular field.

A person who wishes to become a Chartered Accountant must train for a specific period under a training contract with a recognised training firm of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. During this period of training, the prospective Chartered Accountant has the opportunity of working on a variety of assignments on behalf of his/her employer and of gaining a valuable insight into the management and financial systems of firms and organisations in different spheres of activity. This period of planned and varied experience is an integral part of the formation of a Chartered Accountant.

The term of contract which a graduate is required to serve is three half years, while non-graduates are required to train for a period of four years after completion of their required full-time Commencement Course. For students who have completed recognised postgraduate programmes, the term of the training contract is three years.

Educational & Other Qualifications

In order to be eligible to enter into a training contract a prospective student must either (a) be a University graduate, or (b) have other appropriate qualifications, eg. IATI, NCEA, the required passes at appropriate grades in the Leaving Certificate or its equivalent. The standard required in school Leaving Certificate approximates to that required for entry into a business degree in a University.

University Graduates

In the recent past there has been a growth in the number of university graduates entering the profession. 93% are holders of honours business degrees but each year about a quarter of the graduates joining the profession are holders of degrees in other disciplines such as Arts, Law, Engineering and Mathematics.

Numeracy, careful attention to detail and a logical and analytical mind are desirable attributes for an accountant.

How to become a Chartered Accountant

Direct Entry

Some 5% of the students joining the Institute each year utilise Commencement Courses. Subject to demand, these programmes are full-time and held in Sligo and Waterford (see addresses below). All school-leavers entering the profession are required to attend a Commencement Course for one year, and are encouraged to avail of the option of a second year. At the end of the first year, students prepare for Professional One and those who take the option of a second year course present for Professional Two at the end of the programme. Such students then enter their period of training having completed two of the four Institute examinations.

In order to qualify as a Chartered Accountant the student is required to pass the Institute examinations. Extensive exemptions are granted in the earlier examinations to holders of University degrees at honours level and those with other qualifications. Persons who have completed a recognised postgraduate diploma in accounting are granted further exemptions from Professional Three. However, no exemptions are granted in the final examination which must be taken by all students.


The Institute of Chartered Accountants has the following syllabus:

Professional One
Introduction to Accounting, Mathematics in Business, Business Law, Business Environment, Management, Economics.

Professional Two
Financial Accounting and Introduction to Auditing, Business Information Systems, Management Accounting and Business Finance I, Taxation I.

Professional Three
Advanced Financial Accounting, Auditing, Management Accounting and Business Finance II, Taxation II.

Final Admitting Examination
Auditing and the Reporting Accountant, Advanced Financial Analysis, Management and the Business Environment and Taxation.

Employment & Promotional Prospects

The contract of employment is one for a fixed term. Having completed this contract, it is then up to the student to decide where he/she will make a subsequent career. The training contract implies no obligation on the student to remain, after its completion, in the member firm nor does it imply an obligation on the training firm to employ the student after completion of the contract period. Prospective Chartered Accountants can complete their training and requirements either in public practice or in an organisation in commerce, industry and financial services. Qualification as a Chartered Accountant provides people with a worldwide recognised qualification; they are acknowledged as quality information professionals. Chartered Accountants who seek to enhance their prospects by gaining experience abroad will find that their Irish qualification will provide them with an excellent entree into business in any part of the world.

Where to go for further information

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland,
Chartered Accountants House, 87–89 Pembroke Road, Dublin 4.
Tel: 01 6680400 Fax: 01 6680842

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland,
11 Donegall Square South, Belfast BT1 5JE, Northern Ireland.
Tel: 1232 321600 Fax: 1232 230071

Sligo RTC, Ballinode, Co. Sligo.
Tel: 071 43261 Fax: 071 44096

Waterford Institute of Technology,
Cork Road, Waterford.
Tel: 051 75934 Fax: 051 78292

Information supplied by FÁS