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ACCA vs CPA USA: Which One Should You Choose?

The ACCA vs CPA USA debate has been confusing candidates for long. Here we compare the two to make it easier for you to decide on one of these.
If you are a student who aspires to get a rewarding career in finance and accounting then CPA and ACCA are the two qualifications that you will hear about often. However, choosing between the two can be difficult, especially if you do not have someone who can guide you.
So let us discuss these qualifications and understand the details of both.

ACCA vs CPA: A Comparison

Brief Background

  • ACCA

ACCA is a course which is conducted by the Association Of Chartered Certified Accountants, a body of professional accountants based in the UK. The course is recognized in 178 countries around the world and at present has 188000 active members. It also has over 7100 approved employers in various countries. The members and the approved employers together work towards making the ACCA qualification valuable and attractive.

  • CPA

CPA USA, on the other hand, is a license that entitles the holder to render professional accounting services in 50 states of the USA. Every candidate must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (Uniform CPA Exam) conducted by the American Institute Of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The CPA license is issued individually by all the 50 states. However, it offers the holder a mobility to practice in any state of their choice, except in one (The Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands, The Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Puerto Rico And Guam).

Eligibility: ACCA vs CPA

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The eligibility requirements for the ACCA examinations are not too high and you can even join the course after completing your 10 + 2 examinations. The AICPA, however, mandates that only people who have done their masters level are post graduation degree can join the CPA course.

Requirements For Obtaining The Certificate/ License

  • ACCA

The following requirements have to be met by the candidates before they can be granted the ACCA certification:

  • A pass in at least 5 of the 14 exams prescribed in the course. If the candidate holds a certificate of an equivalent professional examination of the same level, then they are exempted from appearing in the remaining examinations.
  • The experience of 3 years in a job role related to accountancy, finance, audit, taxation or assurance.
  • A pass in the professional ethics module as prescribed by ACCA.
  • US CPA

The licensing requirements for us CPA vary across the different states. The licensing requirements are quite complicated and it basically depends upon a 3E system: Eligibility Exam and Experience. You can find the details of the licensing requirements of each state on the AICPA website.


Presently, registering for CPA and appearing for the exams will cost you a total of $849 if you are a student. On the other hand, the fees for initial registration in ACCA is £79 and you will have to also pay an annual subscription of £95 at the time of registering with ACCA.
However,  you will have to pay separately for each of the ACCA examinations that you appear for. This will be an additional cost that you will have to budget for. You can find the detail fee structure for ACCA examinations here.

 Availability Of Exam Centers

  • US CPA

Since this is a US-centric course, it has a limited availability outside of the USA. The countries in which the examination centers are available are Japan, Brazil, Lebanon, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates And Kuwait.

  • ACCA

The ACCA exams are widely available globally and are conducted in 400 test centers in more than 170 countries. This international availability is a great opportunity for students who want to acquire a globally recognized qualification from their home country.
Going by the numbers, ACCA wins hands down in this point in the ACCA vs CPA debate.

Exam Schedule

  • ACCA

The exams are held in the months of March, June, September And December of every year. The candidates can choose any session that is suitable for them.

  • CPA

The examinations are conducted 4 times in a year, i.e. Once in every quarter. Candidates can appear for the examinations over 5 to 6 days per week per quarter during these testing windows.


  • ACCA

As per day salary survey done by ACCA, the average salary drawn by their members in the UK range between £28,000 – £40,000.

  • CPA

As per, the average salary for a certified public accountant (CPA) is $62,055 per year.

ACCA vs CPA: Which One To Choose?

Now let’s come back to the original question: Should you go for ACCA r us CPA or both?
Leaving the ACCA vs CPA debate aside, the choice of course totally depends upon you. If you are based in the USA then you can get a lot of value by completing the US CPA course. However, for international candidates, this can become an uphill task. For them going for the ACCA course will be more convenient in terms of pursuing the course and later finding a job.
For a start, since the examination centers would be available in the country of residence, they can continue to stay at home while pursuing the course. And after completion, they can easily find the job in their country and not have to restrict their mobility to the US alone.
Therefore, it will be better if they go for the ACCA course only and not pursue both.