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Trainee accountants are either working towards attaining their accounting degree or have recently graduated. They are employed with the view to develop their technical skills in order to continue working for their employer in a higher-level position. Typically, trainee accountants work alongside their more experienced and qualified counterparts and while initially supervised closely, gain increasing independence as their skills develop. The accounting tasks they are required to perform are usually support and lower level in nature. Employers allow time away from work to attend classes and in some cases also provide study and examination leave. Some employers may also contribute to fees associated with study or may ask their employee to enter into an agreement regarding their ongoing commitment to the employer once fully qualified.
Chartered Accountant (CA)According to the Institute of Chartered Accountants, accounting is "the language of business. The discipline of measuring, interpretting and communicating financial activity". Chartered accountants find employment in a variety of settings including government, commercial organisations of all sizes, consultancies and specialist firms. Their roles can exist in all specialisations of accounting (e.g. forensic & management) as well as in related areas such as strategic planning, market analysis, compliance, change management, and the use of information technology.
Chartered accountants must gain membership to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA). To do this, graduates are required to undertake postgraduate study and three years of experience. Those who have a recognised Australian university undergraduate or masters degree majoring in accounting may commence employment with a recognised organisation and undertake three years practical experience while completing a Chartered Accountants program, or enroll in the GradDipCA. Graduates of non-accounting degrees may complete a graduate certificate recommended by the ICAA or commence three years practical experience whilst completing the ICAA Chartered Accountants Program.
Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA)
According to CPA Australia, a CPA is a graduate of a degree accredited by the CPA who has completed the CPA program as well as three years mentored or supervised work in finance, business or accounting. CPA's work in the same fields and perform the same type of work as CA's, though some employers may specifcy which qualification they prefer. There is ongoing debate about the superiority of each program, and while prestige and recognition may differ slightly between the two, they essentially prepare graduates for the same types of employment opportunities.
Tax accountants perform all general accounting duties but have a special focus on tax. Their expert knowledge of tax law enables them to provide tax planning advice to businesses and individuals, to lodge tax returns and ensure that their clients are complying with all taxation requirements. Job opportunities exist in consultancies and accounting firms and with government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office.