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How to become an Accountant in Australia in 2021

accountant-in-Australia

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How to Become an Accountant in Australia in 2021

Being an accountant in Australia takes much more than just being good with numbers. Accountants help businesses managing their accounts, with tax services, as well as by providing regulatory and book-keeping services. 

For that reason, we listed everything there is to know about how to become an accountant in Australia in 2021!

What is the role of an accountant in Australia?

Accountants are well-known for helping companies and businesses make important decisions.

In fact, they perform many duties within an organisation, and are a vital part of a business. For that reason, the profession of accountant is highly demanded in Australia. 

Tasks and duties of an accountant in Australia

An accountant in Australia will perform many tasks. Some of them include reviewing financial records, preparing tax returns, creating financial reports, and much more. 

In addition, an accountant in Australia will also serve as key professionals that will help businesses become more profitable.

The main tasks that an accountant in Australia is responsible for are:

  • Create and maintain budgets.
  • Prepare financial statements.
  • Create accounting policies in consultation with senior stakeholders and in alignment with regulatory requirements.
  • Prepare reports that articulate business compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Undertake audits, conduct financial investigations and manage insolvency.
  • Examine the income and expenditure of the individual or organisation.
  • Provide advice about business plans, structures, and accounting systems.
  • Establishing bank accounts, funds, and trusts.
  • Manage cash flow.
  • Manage investment projects.

Work Opportunities for an Accountant in Australia

Many positions are included or related to the accounting field. If, for example, you decide to work as an accountant in Australia in an accounting firm, you will most likely focus in a specific field. On the other hand, if you work in an external organisation, where you will have a broader set of duties.

You might find your calling as a tax accountant in Australia, which is a fast-paced and highly technical job, or as an external auditor, which can allow you to travel the world.

For that reason, when deciding what accountant you want to be, you will have a huge variety of options to choose from in Australia. Some of these include:

Chartered accountant

As a chartered accountant in Australia you’ll give accounting advice, audit accounts, and provide information about financial records .

External auditor

The main task of an external auditor is to determine that the accounting records for a company are a true and accurate picture of the organisation’s finances. External auditors also will analyse if statements are prepared in accordance with the set laws and accounting standards.

Internal auditor

Internal auditors are accounting professionals who advise companies on financial accuracy, internal controls, and regulatory compliance. They review and develop the organization’s operating practices, as well as its financial and risk management systems.

Forensic accountant

Forensic accountancy or financial forensics is the specialty in the area of accounting that investigates whether firms engage in financial reporting misconduct. Is an exciting field that requires a combination of creativity, expertise and investigative skills.

Chief Financial Officer

A chief financial officer (CFO) is the professional responsible for managing the financial actions of a company. The CFO will be responsible for financial planning as well as analyzing the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses and proposing improvements. 

Tax accountant

A tax accountant’s job involves analyzing financial issues as well as planning, submitting, and handling tax statements and returns for companies and customers.

Management consultant

Management consultants are trained to give strategic guidance to help their customers improve their financial and business health. They will also be able to help companies in developing special skills that they may lack.

Banker

Bankers, also known as Retail Bankers, support customers on a regular basis with services such as opening checking and savings accounts, approving loans, and transferring funds. They also provide guidance on banking goods and services.

Market and Opportunities

There is a large number of accountants in Australia due to the constant demand for professionals in this field. For that reason, the number of people working as an Accountant grew over 5 years, from 181,400 of employed accountants in 2014 to a total of 195,800 in 2019 in Australia.

Where do Accountants work in Australia?

Accountants work in many parts of Australia although New South Wales has the largest share of workers in this field.

These accountants are generally working in companies that provide professional, scientific or technical services, as well as insurance, financial and manufacturing services. 

What is the salary of an accountant in Australia?

Although an entry level accountant in Australia may earn AUD $40,000 to $42,000 per year, according to the government profession’s website, a full-time accountant in Australia will earn an average of $1,660 per week, which is a total of $86,320 per year.

Hours of work per week

Even if the job of an accountant in Australia pays well, many of the people employed in this field would spend around 43 hours per week at work. 

Did you know? Different from what many may believe, this is an industry where 52% of the workers are female. Also, the average age for an employed accountant in Australia is 38 years old. 

Accounting bodies in Australia

The main bodies that regulate and accredit Australia’s accounting industry are:

  • The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), 
  • CPA Australia (CPA), and 
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia (ICAA)

Qualifications needed to become an Accountant in Australia


You need to have a certain level of expertise and qualifications to become an accountant in Australia. In saying so, being an accountant in Australia will generally require a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a master’s degree in professional accounting, or completing a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) program. 

The level of education will also depend on the accounting body you are trying to get into. 

For example, you will need at least a Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Accounting to enter IPA, whereas a bachelor’s degree in accounting, such as a Bachelor of Business Administration with a Major in Accounting, is required for the CPA and ICAA. 

Employers will also value accounting graduates who have enrolled in or shown interest in enrolling in a CA or CPA program.

Certificate & Diplomas

Are you starting off in the industry and want to try a course before investing time and money into higher education? Then, the following courses will be able to give an introduction to bookkeeping, accounts payable, and payroll management:

Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping

By studying the Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping, you will learn the basics of accounting. Among other things, you will learn how to prepare financial reports and statements and mantain payroll systems.

This study program will also cover abilities that are essential for this industry such as:

  • Produce financial documents;
  • Financial planning;
  • The fundamentals of bookkeeping and accounting
  • How to plan operational budgets and prepare accounting reports
  • How to set up and use accounting software
  • Payroll administration and financial reporting preparation (BAS)

You can find more information about this course in this link

Diploma in Accounting

A Diploma in Accounting is a great way to get started on the way to a rewarding accounting profession. It is a course designed to take your accounting career further in the Financial Services. You will learn how to manage financial or market reports, plan budgets, prepare tax results and more.

You can find more information about this course in this link.

Advanced Diploma in Accounting

The Advanced Diploma of Accounting is a qualification that is designed for aspiring accounting managers and assistant accountants. Generally packaged with the Diploma of Accounting, you will learn how to prepare complex reports and evaluations to deliver critical results for your company and clients.

You can find more information about this course in this link.


Oftentimes, by studying vocational courses in accounting you will also earn credits towards a Bachelor Degree of Accounting or other Higher Education. For that reason, this type of courses can be a good way to start your studies in accounting in Australia.

Higher Education

Bachelor of Accounting

By studying a Bachelor Degree You’ll learn basic accounting and reporting skills as well as a variety of business-related skills in assurance and audit, commercial law, economics, financial management, information systems, and statistics.

This professional accounting course meets the tertiary education requirements of CPA Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

Also, if you want to expand your career opportunities, you can consider a double-degree program, some of which can be completed in four years of full-time or equivalent part-time training

In addition, some of the universities will have bachelor programs and allow you to select an accounting major. 

At the end of this course, you will be able to join a number of accounting bodies such as CPA or CA.

Master of Accounting

By studying for a Master of Accounting you’ll get the chance to interact with members of the corporate world. That is to say that you will be able to network with professionals in the industry and grow as an accountant.

Most importantly, many students with complementary Degrees choose the Masters of Accounting as a specialization due to the migration opportunities. Through this course, international students will also be qualified to practice as an accountant. 

Through this qualification, you’ll have opportunities to learn and improve your analysis skills. This will allow you to understand and evaluate recent accounting trends as well as solve difficult accounting problems.

Also, many of the professors working in universities that lecture this course will often have worked with the CPA and CA.

In fact, the CA ANZ and CPA Australia generally employ a number of teaching staff from many universities as consultants.

CA vs CPA

After completing your accounting studies and gain relevant experience, you will be able to enter into a CA (Chartered Accountant) or CPA (Certified Practising Accountants) Program.

What is a CPA?

CPA Australia is one of the world’s largest accounting bodies. They work together with local and international bodies to represent the views of this profession to governments, regulators, industries and much more.

By joining this body you become a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) which is a qualified finance, accounting, and business professional. Being a CPA is a sign of good professional competence as it indicates a higher level of accountancy knowledge.

Employers and members alike hold CPAs in high regard. It provides members with a globally recognized certification, as well as the ability to complete specialist training and continuing professional development (CPD).

You must satisfy the following criteria in order to use the CPA designation:

  • Complete a degree or a postgraduate award recognised by CPA Australia
  • Complete the CPA Program, including three years of professional experience in finance, accounting or business
  • Undertake CPD activities every year
  • comply with a the code of conduct set by CPA Australia.

To offer public accounting services, CPAs must also complete CPA Australia’s Public Practice Program and hold a public practice certificate in accordance with the CPA Australia’s By-Laws.

What is a CA?

CA ANZ stands for Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand. Similarly to the CPA, it’s a body that represents financial professionals, supporting them to make a difference to the businesses, organisations and communities in which they work and live.

Their accreditation is also highly considered by professionals in the financial and accounting industry. 

You can become a Chartered Accountant by completing a 4 step process:

Step 1 – Check your eligibility to access the CA Program and provisional membership:

To enter in the CA Program, you must ensure you are aware of, and able to meet the entry requirements. Among other requirements, you will have to complete a degree or a postgraduate award recognised by CA ANZ, have english requirements, the right to study in Australia.

Step 2 – Apply for provisional membership

Before you can enrol in the CA Program or individual subjects, you must apply for Provisional Membership. You can do this by providing your official academic documentation and by completing the provisional membership Application.

Step 3 – Complete your CA Program studies and Mentored Practical Experience

Once your provisional membership application has been approved you will be able to enroll in your first CA Program subject to begin your course studies and apply for your Mentored Practical Experience.

To become a full member through the CA Program, you must complete both of the following courses:

  • Graduate Diploma in Chartered Accounting (GradDipCA) from CA ANZ; and
  • 3 years of Mentored Practical Experience (MPE) with a CA ANZ accredited employer.

Step 4 – Apply for full CA Membership

If you have finished the CA Program and your 3 years of approved employment, you’re ready to apply for full CA membership

You can find more information about the steps through this link.

What are the differences between CA and CPA?

There are some evident differences when it comes to separating these qualifications.

The CA course content is highly focused toward auditing and tax matters, and those who receive a CA qualification are generally better qualified to address more complex accounting problems from a technical standpoint.

Generally the knowledge gained from the CA qualification has a more practical application.

On the other hand, students who wish to concentrate on a wider variety of accounting skills, such as costing, production, marketing, and planning, should consider becoming a CPA.

Becoming a CPA will open many doors to exciting industries all over the world. Also, you will play an important role in the company’s growth which could lead to a job in management or in the innovative field of a company.

Professional year

The Accounting Professional Year Program (PYP) is a program generally provided by accounting firms that was created in partnership by CPA Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and the Institution of Public Accountants.

It is an approved program by the Department of Home Affairs that is open to international students who have completed at least two years of study in Australia and hold an Australian accounting degree.

The accounting PYP consists of the following:

  • a minimum of 44 weeks of training, including 32 weeks of classroom study and a 12-week internship placement in an accredited Australian workplace working as an accountant
  • professional development and hands-on practical learning, with an emphasis on workplace preparation.
  • recognition as a pathway for 485 visa holders seeking permanent residency in Australia

This program can be an interesting option for those wanting to migrate to Australia as it can earn them extra points for point based visas.

Migration opportunities

Living in Australia should be at the top of your list whether you’re a newly qualified Accountant looking to travel or an experienced Accountant looking to start your experience abroad. For that reason, we listed the 3 steps you need to take if you want to migrate to Australia to work in this profession.

3 Steps to Migrate to Australia as an Accountant

Step 1 – Assess your qualifications

Whether you have an Australian qualification or you’re coming with a qualification and experience from overseas, in order to become an Accountant in Australia you will need to undergo a Skill Assessment first.

The 3 main bodys that can do the assessment of your qualifications and experience for all the professions above other than Internal Auditors, are CPA CAANZ and IPA.

How do accounting bodies assess my qualifications

Bodies that can perform your Skill Assessment will have different parameters to assess your qualifications although generally, the you will be assessed by

  1. Comparability of Degrees: You must have an educational level equal to at least an Australian bachelor’s degree. When determining the comparability of overseas credentials, each assessing body will follow the recommendations provided by the Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training.
  2. Educational Knowledge: The qualification that meets the first step will now be assessed to determine if it is relevant to your chosen occupation. This will be done taking in consideration the competency areas for each ANZSCO code. 
  3. English Proficiency: The English language proficiency is a requirement for all candidates.

You can find more information about the qualification assessing process for an Accountant in Australia for each of the bodies on links:

Step 2 – Understand your visa options

An Accountant in Australia is eligible for a variety of visas due to the demand for this profession.

For this reason, these visas may be of interest in case you want to work in Australia as an Accountant:

You can find below the migration opportunities for each of the careers in the in the accounting field in Australia:

ANZSCO CodePositionVisas (Subclass
221111Accountant (general)186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa
189 – Skilled Independent 
190 – Skilled Nominated 
407 – Training visa
485 – Temporary Graduate
489 – Skilled Regional 
482 – Temporary Skill Shortage 
494 – Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional 
491 – Skilled Work Regional
221212Corporate Treasurer 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional 
221213External auditor186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa 
189 – Skilled Independent 
190 – Skilled Nominated 
407 – Training visa
485 – Temporary Graduate
489 – Skilled Regional 
482 – Temporary Skill Shortage 
494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional
491 – Skilled Work Regional
221112Management accountant 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa 
189 – Skilled Independent 
190 – Skilled Nominated 
407 – Training visa
485 – Temporary Graduate
489 – Skilled Regional 
482 – Temporary Skill Shortage 
494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional 
491 – Skilled Work Regional
132211Finance manager 190 – Skilled Nominated 
407 – Training visa 
489 – Skilled Regional 
482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) – Short Term Stream
494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (provisional) 
491 – Skilled Work Regional (provisional) visa 
221113Taxation Accountant186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa 
189 – Skilled Independent 
190 – Skilled Nominated 
407 – Training visa
485 – Temporary Graduate
489 – Skilled Regional 
482 – Temporary Skill Shortage 
494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional 
491 – Skilled Work Regional
221214Internal Auditor186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa 
189 – Skilled Independent
190 – Skilled Nominated 
407 – Training visa
485 – Temporary Graduate
489 – Skilled Regional 
482 – Temporary Skill Shortage 
494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional 
491 – Skilled Work Regional

Step 3 – Start the migration process

Once you have researched the migration path and opportunities for your profession, you can start the migration process.

As some of the visa options will require knowledge of the process and can often be complex, make sure to contact our team and we will help you.    

Conclusion

In conclusion, being an accountant in Australia is a rewarding career that will bring you many opportunities. The demand for this profession and number of people working in this industry is growing in 2021 and will continue to increase in the future.

If you want to consider a career in this industry, make sure to contact our team and we will be happy to help you through the journey!

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