There are countless well-known platitudes about the journey being as important and meaningful as the destination, and in the journey towards becoming a CA no truer words have been spoken. You know as a trainee that, whether taking the full-time or part-time route, the levels of dedication and hard work are the same. It’s the scenery at the side of the road that differs as you edge closer to the same destination.
So what exactly is the difference between the two and which option is right for you? Both come with their pros and cons, but ultimately it’s a personal decision dependent on your own circumstances and preferences.
Both routes involve completing a BCom Accounting degree or the equivalent CA (SA) undergraduate qualification at a SAICA-accredited university - a full list of which is available on the SAICA website – and a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) or equivalent postgraduate degree. However, there are a number of options available to achieve these qualifications.
Taking the full-time route is widely regarded as favourable as it usually provides the most direct and quickest route to becoming fully qualified. It takes a minimum of three years to obtain the under-graduate degree full-time, and a year to complete the post-graduate CTA.
The main advantages of this are that you can focus full-time on your studies without the distraction of work and can receive any extra support you need from your lecturers. The cons are most notably the cost – those studying full-time generally need a bursary, student loan or financial support from their families in order to consider this as an option.
Once you have completed your CTA full-time, you will then be able to start your three-year training contract at a registered training office, bringing you closer to your ultimate goal of registering as a CA (SA).
Studying part-time throughout the duration of your degree means beginning your training contract immediately and for a period of five years. The reason most people who take this path choose it is that it is generally cheaper and provides you with the means to work and earn money while you study. The obvious down-side, though, is that it usually takes longer to complete, drastically cuts into your work/life balance and ultimately means that you have to work harder and make sacrifices that those studying full-time don’t.
There is also a third option: it’s possible to complete your undergraduate Accounting degree full-time, begin a four-year training programme and complete your CTA on a part-time basis. The same constraints apply, and there is also little lecture or academic support available unless you pay for a programme.
Each road comes with its own set of pitfalls and potholes, so no matter the route you choose to take, the destination remains the same and the view from the top will be just as panoramic.
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