CPA certification program: Practical experience requirements

To earn the Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, Canada’s pre-eminent business and accounting credential, you must complete relevant practical experience in addition to formal education (i.e. the CPA PEP) and the Common Final Examination.

As a candidate, in addition to formal education, the CPA certification program requires you to complete a term of relevant practical experience under the guidance of an approved mentor. The minimum required term is 30 months of employment during which you demonstrate that you have gained the professional knowledge, skills, values, ethics and attitudes required for entry into the Canadian CPA profession.

The CPA certification program meets or exceeds the requirements and expectations of regulators, global accounting organizations and the broader business community for professional accountants working in both public practice and industry. It provides the opportunity to develop the technical and softer skills needed in today’s business environment. The knowledge and competencies gained through practical experience complement what is gained through education.

CPA Practical Experience Requirements sets out the details for completing the practical experience requirement. The supplementary fact sheet provides a high-level summary of these requirements.

Two routes to take:

  1. Pre-approved program. Gain relevant experience in training positions pre-approved by the profession. Employers offering these programs have had them approved by the profession in advance, having been designed to provide a future Canadian CPA with all the required experience within the 30-month timeframe. As a result, less documentation is required while you complete your experience via this route. Assessment by the profession occurs when you complete the program.
  2. Experience verification. This flexible route allows you to demonstrate competence and have relevant experience recognized as it is gained at your employer of choice. You will complete detailed experience reports that are assessed by the profession at key milestones. Supervisors review and attest to the accuracy of experience reports.

You can complete your practical experience requirements through either route or in combination.

Five common elements in both routes:

  1. You gain relevant experience and develop as a professional accountant within a minimum of 30 months.
  2. All relevant experience must be appropriately supervised.
  3. You must record detailed reports at regular intervals.
  4. You are required to meet and discuss progress at least semi-annually with a Canadian CPA mentor.
  5. All experience is assessed by the Canadian CPA profession.

Practical experience requirements for the practice of public accounting (i.e. for the purposes of obtaining a practising certificate) are recognized separately from practical experience requirements for Canadian CPA certification. The specific regulations and bylaws of the individual accounting bodies throughout the Caribbean and China control public accounting and take precedence over these general requirements.