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How Can You Become A Professional Accountant? (A Thread) by Layze(m): 12:50pm On May 05
Have you always fancy yourself been an accountant? Do you always have a dream of becoming a professional and chartered accountant? Have you heard of the acronym ICAN before and have always wondered what it means? – seek no more, this article is for you.

In my last article, I explained how one can become a professional in any field. Accounting is a highly lucrative profession because it has so many scopes and can be applied to any field or job.
It is a very diverse and wide profession with so many opportunities and fortune. It is one of the few professions that can never be made irrelevant – no matter the impact of technology and science.


Why should you become a chartered Accountant?

- Chartered accountants are one of the highest paid professionals in Nigeria and all over the world. According to a report by Forbes, financial analysts/accountants fall within the top 50 highest paid jobs in the world in 2021

- A chartered accountant in Nigeria can easily make his transition abroad and start practicing as an accountant without much problem.

- Professional accountants are one of the most recognized and most valuable professionals in every sector all over the world.

- Accounting is a moral and ethical profession and its practitioners hold so much respect and value.

- Accountants are needed in every sector of the economy – commerce, trade, education, technology, science – you name it.

- There are so many fields for you to choose and thrive in as an accountant. You can work as a financial analyst, a financial reporter, a government accountant, a tax consultant, a management accountant, an auditor, a forensic accountant, a business consultant and so on.


The benefits of being a professional accountant cannot be exhausted – it is a very lucrative profession. However, there are some vital information that you must know about accounting:
- Accounting is a professional course: that is, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in accounting doesn’t automatically make one a qualified accountant.

- You need to be professionally certified before you can be a qualified and chartered accountant.

- You cannot provide accounting service to a client in Nigeria, and other countries, if you are not a qualified accountant.
- Anybody, I mean anybody, no matter the course you studied or currently studying in school, you can also become a chartered and qualified accountant.


My dear brother and sister, your dream of becoming a chartered accountant is finally ready to come true! Whether or not you studied accounting in school, or you are currently studying, you can become a professional and qualified accountant in the space of two and a half years –30 months!

As a student, you can become a chartered accountant as an undergraduate. I mean you can become a professional accountant even before leaving the four walls of school!

Re: How Can You Become A Professional Accountant? (A Thread) by Layze(m): 12:56pm On May 05
ICAN – Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria


ICAN is one of the leading, popular and efficient professional bodies in Nigeria. Established on September 4th 1965, it is a body which effectively represents the interest of its members, regulate its members’ conduct and enhance its members’ interests and goals.

In Nigeria, ICAN is the leading professional body for accountants; the association has constantly churned out scores of great and visionary men and women within and outside the profession.
Great people like Chief Akintola Williams (the first chartered accountant in Nigeria), Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, Mrs. Onome Joy Adewuyi and so on.

In order to qualify and practice as an accountant in Nigeria, you need to pass all stages of the ICAN exams; display a level of competence and attain a level of experience. Honestly, it is not a very easy feat but it is very straight forward and achievable.

ICAN Exams

ICAN exams are divided into two broad stages: the accounting technician level (ATS level) and the professional level. ICAN exam was formerly only for the professional level, however the ATS level was later developed for three purposes:
- To cater for small and medium scale enterprises who might not be able to afford the fees and pay of a professional and qualified accountant. The aim is to provide them with accountants who are suitable and are capable to satisfy their needs.

- To widen the profession and make it easier for anybody at all to become a professional accountant. This level has made it possible for someone who has just a senior school leaving certificate (WAEC, NECO, GCE etc) to become a chartered accountant with ease.

- To make the transition into the professional stages smooth and easier.


The ATS level:

The ATS level has three parts (exams): ATS 1, 2 and 3. The body in charge of this level is known as ATSWA (Accounting Technician Scheme West Africa). The exam is done across some West African countries including Ghana, Liberia and so on. Each part has four exams which make a total of twelve exams for the three parts.

After completing the exams in all three parts, you shall be inducted as an ATSWA member and be awarded an Associate Accounting Technician (AAT) certificate. This certificate alone boosts your standing among other junior and mid-level accountants and gives you recognition.

Also, without mincing words and with the exception of few courses, I can tell you for free that this certificate is equivalent to a 400L accounting student in a typical public university in Nigeria. The AAT certificate is recognized in countries like Canada and the UK. With your AAT certificate, you can easily practice as an accounting technician in Canada.


The professional level:

The second and final division is the professional level from where you can become a qualified and certified accountant. Just like the ATS level, this level also has three parts – foundation, skills and professional. This level is where you become a pro in the accounting field.

The foundation, as the name implies, is the entry stage into the professional level. It is the stage where all the basics of accounting as a profession are being taught. Every B.sc and HND holder in any other course aside accounting will start from this level. This level contain five exams to be completed before moving to the next stage – although, this will be reviewed soon according to reports from the association.
For someone who has a B.sc or HND in accounting, he will be exempted from this stage, as it is believed that he shouldn’t have a problem with the basics. Such person will start from the next stage – skills.

The second part/stage in the professional level is the skills stage. It is the pen-ultimate exam to be done before one can become a qualified accountant. This stage is the entry level for all B.sc and HND holders in accounting.

Interestingly, for someone who is an AAT (Associate Accounting Technician), such person will also be granted exemption from writing the foundation stage – he will also start from the skills stage.

The last and ultimate part is the professional stage. This is alpha and omega of all exams in ICAN. It contains five exams which must be duly completed. After the completion of this stage, you shall be inducted as an Associate of Chartered Accountants (ACA) – and your dream of becoming a professional and chartered accountant is fulfilled!


I will be honest with you, it’s not a child’s play, neither is it a folktale journey. However, it is really straight forward and achievable. With focus and dedication, you can become a chartered accountant within the space of two and a half years – for someone who starts from the ATS level (1-3).
For a first degree holder in accounting, you can become a qualified accountant within a year! And for someone who starts from the foundation level, you can become a professional accountant with a year and half.

Dear parents and guardians, your child can become a professional accountant even before graduating from higher institution – regardless of his/her course of study.
My dear brothers and sisters, your dream of becoming a chartered accountant with all its reputation and recognition isn’t lost, it is still very much within your grasp. Make the move today!


Please note, this article is not completely exhaustive as there are packages for OND holders in their ICAN exams. Feel free to throw in your questions.

For more information or questions, reach out to the writer:
Bello Abdullah
Phone/whatsApp: 09066268746
Email: lekanbello98@gmail.com




References:
https://www3.forbes.com/leadership/2021s-hottest-careers-glassdoor-releases-the-years-50-best-jobs-vue/51/
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/professionals/102015/where-do-accountants-earn-most-money.asp#:~:text=The%20lucrative%20salary%20is%20based,of%20the%20best%20business%20jobs.&text=%22The%20'Big%20Four'%20accounting,for%20growth%2C%22%20Valli%20said.

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