CA Vs. CS – Which is Better for You?

When looking for the best career-based education option after a bachelor’s degree in commerce, then CA and CS are two common names that you get to hear in accounting courses. CA or Chartered Accountancy and CS or Company Secretary are not just popular in India but also recognized worldwide. These two are courses for international accounting professionals. A CA is responsible for conducting high-level auditing and accounting tasks in companies. Whereas a Company Secretary is responsible for handling the compliance activities of the large companies as they are specialized in Corporate law.

Usually, students are confused about whether to choose between CA or CS, and that is not going to be an easy job. It is very important to pick a course of your interest, but that should not be the only factor that you need to consider while making a choice of course for your bright future. There are many other factors like course duration, fee structure, curriculum, job opportunities, and salary as well. So, if you are looking for more information about CA and CS certification programs, then continue reading. We have gathered some useful information about both CA and CS, which can be very helpful for you.

What is CA or Chartered Accountancy?

The full form of CA is Chartered Accountancy. This course is offered by ICAI or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in India. CA certification course is more popular in India than any other country. It was first started in 1944, and the professionals who complete this course have a lot of importance in the accounting and financing sectors in India. Students who have commerce as one of their subjects in the bachelor’s degree are the perfect fit for this course. Students of other backgrounds can also take this course, but commerce knowledge can be an added advantage for the successful completion of the course. This is regarded as one of the toughest courses related to finance and accounting, and even the pass percentage is very low every year.

Company Secretary (CS) vs Chartered Accountant (CA)

What is CS or Company Secretary?

The full form of CS is Company Secretary. This course is offered by ICSI or Institute of Company Secretaries in India. CS is not just popular in India but also in other parts of the world. Once you can complete the CS course successfully, you will be appointed to a managerial position in the corporate firms. Usually, when talking about secretaries, the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind is the administrative team. But a CS is entirely different from that. A Company Secretary will take care that their company is operating within the law of the country. This course is equally tough when compared to the CA course. But the pass percentage of CS is better compared to CS. So, there are more chances for you to complete the course faster.

Comparison Between Charted Accountancy and Company Secretary

Aspect Chartered Accountancy (CA) Company Secretary (CS)
Regulating Body The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI)
Objective To become a professional accountant and financial expert. To become a corporate governance and regulatory compliance professional.
Levels CPT (Common Proficiency Test), IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course), and CA Final. Foundation, Executive, and Professional Program.
Exams Multiple levels of examinations, including written and practical exams. Examinations at each level, including a computer-based test for the Foundation program.
Articleship/Training Mandatory practical training known as articleship, which varies in duration. Mandatory practical training known as practical training, which varies in duration.
Areas of Expertise Accounting, auditing, taxation, finance, and business laws. Corporate laws, corporate governance, compliance management, and other corporate matters.
Career Opportunities Auditing, taxation, finance, advisory, and consultancy in various sectors. Company secretary roles in corporate governance, legal compliance, and regulatory affairs.
Recognition Internationally recognized qualification. Recognized in India and some other countries.
Membership Members of ICAI are called Chartered Accountants (CA). Members of ICSI are called Company Secretaries (CS).
Professional Ethics Governed by the Code of Ethics issued by ICAI. Governed by the Company Secretaries Act and Code of Conduct issued by ICSI.
Work Environment Can work in various sectors, including public practice, industry, and government. Primarily works in corporate settings, ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

Course Duration:

How long does it take to get your degree is very important. You should have an idea about how many years more you will be spending on your education before you get started with your career. So, let us have a look at the course duration of both CA and CS.

If you wish to complete your course in a short period, then you should opt for CS as it takes only two to three years for completion. But when it comes to CA, it is going to take three to five years for the completion of the course.

Number of Levels in CA and CS:

The number of levels that you need to clear to become a CA or CS is very important to know. For CA, there are four levels to complete, and for CS, there are just three levels.

Levels in CA:

  1. CPT or the common proficiency test – Level 1
  2. Integrated Professional Competence or IPCE – Level 2
  3. Articleship or internship under a practicing CA for three years – Level 3
  4. CA Finals – Level 4

Levels in CS:

  1. Foundation Level
  2. Executive Level
  3. Professional Level

Course Curriculum:

Usually, most of the students select any course depending on the subjects that they get to learn as part of the course. That means your interest in the subjects plays a very important role when choosing a course that can help you in making a good career. So, here let us have a look at the important subjects that you will learn as part of the CS course and also in the CA course.

Subjects in CA:

CPT level:

  • Paper 1 – Fundamentals of Accounting
  • Paper 2 – Quantitative Aptitude
  • Paper 3A – Mercantile Law
  • Paper 3B – General Economics
  • Paper 4A – General English
  • Paper 4B – Business Communication

IPC level:

Group One

  • Paper 1 – Advanced Accounting
  • Paper 2 – Law, ethics and communication
  • Paper 3 – Cost Accounting and Financial Management
  • Paper 4 – Taxation

Group Two

  • Paper 5 – Advanced Accounting
  • Paper 6 – Auditing and Assurance
  • Paper 7 – Information Technology and Strategic Management


Group One

  • Paper 1 – Advanced Accounting
  • Paper 2 – Management Accounting and Financial Analysis
  • Paper 3 – Advanced Auditing
  • Paper 4 – Corporate Laws and Secretarial Practice

Group Two

  • Paper 5 – Cost Management
  • Paper 6 – Management Information and Control System
  • Paper 7 – Direct Taxes
  • Paper 8 – Indirect Taxes

Subjects in CS:

Foundation course:

  • Paper 1 – English and Business Communication
  • Paper 2 – Basic Economics and Business Environment
  • Paper 3 – Financial Accounting
  • Paper 4 – Elements of Business Laws and Management
  • Paper 5 – Information Systems and Quantitative Techniques

Intermediate course:

Group One

  • Paper 1 – General and Commercial Laws
  • Paper 2 – Company Accounts and Cost and Management Accounting
  • Paper 3 – Tax Laws
  • Paper 4 – Management Information Systems and Corporate Communications

Group Two

  • Paper 5 – Company Law
  • Paper 6 – Company Secretarial Practice
  • Paper 7 – Economic Labour and Industrial Laws
  • Paper 8 – Securities Laws and Regulation of Financial Markets


Group One

  • Paper 1 – Advanced Company Law and Practice
  • Paper 2 – Secretarial Practice Relating to Economic Laws and Drafting & Conveyancing
  • Paper 3 – Secretarial, Management and Systems Audit

Group Two

  • Paper 4 – Financial, Treasury and Forex Management
  • Paper 5 – Corporate restructuring – Law and Practice
  • Paper 6 – Banking and Insurance – Law and Practice

Group Three

  • Paper 7 – World Trade Organization – International Trade, Joint Ventures & Foreign Collaboration
  • Paper 8 – Direct and Indirect Taxation – Law and Practice
  • Paper 9 – Human resources management and industrial relations

Fee Structure:

Taking any kind of professional course is going to cost you high. You will have to be careful while weighing the differences between the two courses. You need to take fee structure also into consideration.

CA is going to cost you somewhere around $500, and CS is going to cost you between $800 and $1000. Both the courses are not too expensive, but there is a lot of difference in the fee structure between these two courses. So, you need to be careful while making a choice.

Articleship or training period:

Training or articleship is another important factor that you need to consider when comparing two different courses. Here we are looking at CA and CS, and articleship or training is mandatory for both the courses. But the period is going to be different for both the courses.

For CA, it is mandatory to have a three-year articleship under any practicing CA or CA firm. Only after the completion of the articleship you will be able to give the final exams of the CA course.

For CS, you need to have a mandatory training of 15 months at least.

Without this articleship or training, you will not be able to complete your respective course.

Steps to pursue the course:

There are different steps involved in pursuing a CA and CS course. The process is different for both the courses. So, if you wish to know more details about the steps involved, then have a look at all the steps.

Steps to become a CA:

  • The first and foremost step to becoming a CA is to enroll in the ICAI. You will have to register with ICAI to complete this step.
  • The next step is to complete the CPT test or otherwise called as Common Proficiency Test. Along with that, you should complete your BCOM degree as well.
  • The next step is to complete the IPC examination.
  • You should complete your three-year articleship in the next step.
  • The final step is the successful completion of your CA final examinations.

Steps to become a CS:

  • You should register with the ICSI in the first step.
  • You should complete your foundation course as your second step. But if you have already completed your graduate course, then you can directly give your executive-level exam.
  • The next step is the executive-level examination.
  • As a final step, you will have to complete your professional-level program to become a CS.

Job Opportunities:

Job opportunities for both CA and CS professionals are very high. Chartered Accountant will get job opportunities in both government sectors and also in private sectors. You will be offered positions in the fields like Accounting, Taxation, Auditing, Consulting firms, and Management Accounting as well.

After you complete CS, you will receive offers in the fields like Legal experts, strategic manager, corporate planner, executive secretaries for managing directors, chief advisors for the companies.

It all depends on what kind of firms you wish to work for. There are many job offers. But as the pass percentage of CA is low every year, the number of job opportunities is high for those who wish to take up a position as a CA in any organization.

Salary Structure:

Salary is high for both professionals. If you wish to make a career as a CA in India, then you can earn between nine to ten lakhs. Again that depends on what kind of field you are dealing in. A CS professional can earn something between eight to nine lakhs. If you can find a job in a top firm, then your pay can get double in just no time.

But if you are planning to make a career abroad, then your pay is going to be very high when compared to what you can earn in India. So, your pay depends on the country where you are going to work.

Which is the better option – CA or CS?

So, what do you think now? Which is the right course for you? It may not be easy at the beginning of this article, but after getting knowledge about both the courses, it should be easy now. Just like any other course available in India and abroad, these two courses also have their pros and cons. You should be able to weigh the pros against the cons before making a choice.

One important thing that you need to consider when you have CA in mind is the examination pattern is very tough. You should be able to clear one group of exams at a time. Even for one backlog, you will have to reattempt the entire group once again. Also, for CS, if you are a bachelor’s degree, then you need not have to attempt the fundamental level exams. You can directly attempt the executive level examinations. That is going to save you some time. Apart from that, all other things have been listed above, and you can decide according to your interest.

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