Structure of the ACA
The ACA is made up of four elements designed to help build the technical knowledge, professional skills, and practical experience your employees need to become ICAEW Chartered Accountants. The four elements are:
Practical work experience
Students need to accumulate, and show evidence of, at least 450 days of practical work experience. This does not need to include audit work.
The ACA is made up of 15 exams spread over three levels: the Certificate Level, the Professional Level, and the Advanced Level. Each exam has been designed to fit students practical experience as they progress through the qualification and gain an in-depth knowledge of accountancy, finance, and business. Students may be able to claim up to 12 exam exemptions depending on their previous studies and experience.
ICAEW Chartered Accountants are known for their professionalism and expertise, building trust, spotting and communicating risks and utilising technology. Students are required to work their way through seven professional skills areas to prepare them for the situations they will encounter throughout their career in accountancy.
Ethics and professional scepticism
Ethics is integrated throughout the ACA, developing trusted advisors who know how to make ethical decisions and justify them. Throughout their training, students will learn the principles that underpin the ICAEW Code of Ethics, and importantly, they will learn how to apply these principles. Students will:
- complete an Ethics Learning Programme;
- practice ethics with their employer using the ICAEW Ethics in Practice scenarios; and,
- and be tested on ethics within each exam.
Level 7 apprenticeship
The ACA can be studied as a Level 7 apprenticeship, allowing organisations in England to access government funding up to £21,000. Apprenticeships are open to all employees, regardless of age.
ACA training is best suited to employees who have achieved a minimum level of education such as:
- A-levels (or international equivalents)
- Level 4 Professional Accountancy Qualifications (such as BFP or AAT)
- Membership or studentship at a listed accounting body (such as ACCA or CIMA)
At ICAEW, we’re passionate about inclusivity and want to provide as many people as possible with the opportunity to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. That’s why we offer a diverse range of entry routes so that you can offer training to school leavers, graduates, experienced professionals, and career changers.
The ACA typically takes three to four years to complete, however this can vary depending on your student's prior work experience and qualifications and the route they follow.
We have partnered with 160+ providers across the globe to provide employers with a host of tuition options to choose from, including classroom learning, virtual lessons, or a hybrid of the two, allowing you to fit your employee's tuition around the needs of your organisation.
Fees associated with ACA training include an annual student registration fee, tuition/training costs, exam entry fees, credit for prior learning and learning materials.
Examples of fees associated with ACA training include:
|Type of fee||Cost|
|Annual student fee||£185.00 + VAT|
|Exam entry (per exam)||£80.00 - £272.00|
|Learning materials (per exam)||£34.00 - £90.00|
|Tuition||Varies by provider|
Frequently asked questions
View answers to frequently asked questions from employers.
Getting started as an ICAEW Authorised Training Employer
To train ACA students, you will need to become authorised to train. This is a free, simple process that usually takes between three to four weeks.
- Register your interest with us. We will get in touch to discuss your training options.
- Submit an application to become an ICAEW Authorised Training Employer. This is a free and simple process.
- Once you are authorised, you can start training ACA students.