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Accounting Designations in Canada You Need to Know

Completing a designation will positively impact your career as you move forward. A designation also enables you to be professionally competitive against other professionals. This would greatly benefit your career along with the work experiences and skills you have gained over the years.

Designations would require completing a degree in a relevant concentration or at least a certain amount of years of working experience in the relevant field.

Here, we will discuss different designations and certifications you can take to further advance your career:

1. Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA)

Historically, there are three accounting designations that have existed in Canada, Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified General Accountant (CGA), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA). The three designations have been officially merged as one last 2014. No matter what your specialization is, all accounting designation now sits under one umbrella, the CPA designation.

To become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in Canada you need to get an undergraduate degree. If you are a degree holder in an accounting concentration you can enroll in the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP). If you have a degree that’s not related to accounting, you can still pursue a CPA designation by enrolling in CPA preparatory courses before proceeding in the CPA PEP.

If you don’t have an undergraduate degree, you can still become a CPA by gaining eight years of relevant working experience in technical competency areas such as:

  • Audit and Assurance
  • Finance and Taxation
  • Financial Reporting
  • Management Accounting
  • Strategy and Governance

Once you have the relevant experience, you need to submit a comprehensive resume, university or college transcripts, three reference letters, and a personal statement. If you have completed all of these requirements, you are now eligible in enrolling in the CPA PEP. Read more here.

CPA PEP is a two-year program that can be completed on a part-time basis, perfect for candidates who work full-time. The program consists of six modules that focus on different accounting competencies and examinations that each candidate must be able to pass. You are also required to complete 30 months of relevant working experience. To complete the process, you need to pass the 3-day test, the Common Final Examination (CFE).

2. Bookkeeper Certification

Bookkeeping is currently unregulated in Canada, but this should not stop you from getting certified. A bookkeeper is crucial in ensuring that business records are well maintained. Having a bookkeeping certification proves that you have extensive knowledge in helping your clients with their business needs.

There are several organizations that offer certification for bookkeepers. One is the Certified Professional Bookkeepers of Canada. CPB Canada offers a certification pathway to a Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB) designation.

CPB Canada Certification Pathway

To complete CPB Canada’s certification, you need at least 3 years of relevant Canadian working experience, 2 reference letters, accounting software certification and at least a score of 80% in the CPB exam.

3. Payroll Certification

There are two payroll certifications you can complete, Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP) and Certified Payroll Manager (CPM).

In completing a Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP) Certification, you will be taught the foundational knowledge you need when you start a career in payroll through completing three core courses and one transfer of credit. Along with these courses, you will need at least one-year of work experience in the relevant field.

PCP Path

The second payroll certification you can take is the Certified Payroll Manager (CPM) Certification. You must complete a PCP certification and two years of weighted experience in the relevant field before you become eligible for this program. The CPM certification is perfect for payroll professionals who are looking to enter a management position. In this certification, you are required to complete two core courses and three transfer of credits.

CPM Path


There are different certifications and designations that are focused on different fields of accountancy. Determine what your career goals are and pursue the certification or designation best suited for you. You can also read more about different online courses you can take to further broaden your knowledge in accounting here: Improve Your Accounting Skills With These Online Courses.

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