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How Can You Become A Professional Accountant? - Career - Nairaland

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How Can You Become A Professional Accountant? by Layze(m): 2:43pm On Jun 02
Yesterday, I posted an article about the accounting profession and what you need to know. Read here:

How, then, can you become a professional and chartered accountant? How can you become a recognized and practicing accountant in Nigeria?

It is very simple! All you have to do is to pass ICAN exams and boom, you're already a professional accountant!
Surprised? Well you are allowed to wink.

Let me also retierate, whether you have a any degree in Accounting (Bsc, OND, HND, etc) or you don't, you can become a professional accountant in less than 2 years cool. You just have to be certified by ICAN.

What is even ICAN?


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 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 et.al) to become a chartered accountant with ease.

- To make the transition into the professional stages smooth and easier.
Re: How Can You Become A Professional Accountant? by Layze(m): 2:48pm On Jun 02

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 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. This stage has four exams to be completed before moving to the final 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

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