Not many people are aware they can become certified chartered accountants registered with ICAN without passing through any tertiary institution. This is what can be achieved with the Accounting Technician Scheme or ATS.
ATS was originally conceived over a quarter of a century ago to provide chartered accountants with competent assistants in their jobs.
Think of how important paralegals are to lawyers; or nurses to doctors. That is what ATS is all about in a nutshell.
However, the good thing about the ATS is that you can eventually become a chartered accountant if you wish to progress in your career.
Since the path to the top is open, there is no reason why you shouldn’t attempt it if you have the chance.
For students just out of secondary school and hoping to be accountants, ATS can offer a pathway to the top if a combination of UME exams and your chosen University’s policy is stopping you from studying your dream course.
And another good thing about the ATS is that once you pass it, you are exempted from the foundation stage of the journey leading to a fully certified chartered accountant.
The foundation stage is normally reserved for graduates of tertiary institutions and professionals with no accounting background.
So if you are ready, follow this guide carefully to learn how to have an AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) after your name. An AAT signifies someone who has successfully passed all the ATS exams.
Before you can register for ATS, you must have at least 5 credits passes including English and Maths in either
in not more than two sittings.
Other acceptable pre-requisites include
Ordinary National diploma from an accredited University
National Certificate of Education from an accredited College of Education
Any relevant qualification as approved by ICAN.
Obviously, as a secondary school leaver, only the first pre-requisite should bother you.
1. Go to any commercial bank in the country. Inquire from the bank how and where to pay ICAN/ATS Professional Examination Registration fee through Pay Direct.
2. Currently, the registration fee is N6000
3. At the back of the Pay Direct receipt is the online address to log into to complete your registration.
4. Log into the registration portal.
5. Scan a colored passport photograph of yourself and attach it to the online form in the box provided
6. Print out a copy of the application form after filling it
7. Sign the printed form
8. Get a Chartered accountant or an AAT member to act as your referee. Their name, phone number and membership number should be written in the appropriate section on the form.
9. Get your referee or sponsor to certify or endorse the application form and photocopy of your credentials
10. Submit your application in an official envelope to the nearest ICAN office to you. Most cities in Nigeria have an ICAN liaison office where you can submit your application.
You must include the following in the official envelope before submission:
Photocopy of your O level results ( WASC/NECO). Or a computer print out or scratch pin voucher if you are submitting a statement of result.
Original copy of your payment Pin Voucher
2 certified passport photographs
3 self-addressed envelopes with N50 stamp attached to each of them
A photocopy of your birth certificate or sworn declaration of age.
Original copy of the bank teller.
After about four weeks, you should get your registration number from the ICAN office close to you. Your registration number would enable you to make the full payments after you log in to your student account on the website.
ATS Examination guidelines related issues
After getting you registration number, you are now eligible to write the ATS exams. The exams come up in March and September each year.
The ATS exams are divided into three parts. Each part contains four papers. All four papers must be passed before a candidate can move on to the next stage.
Once the date of the examination has been announced in newspapers, registered students must now log in to their online account and pay the relevant examination fees.
The mode of payment includes Pay Direct to ICAN account, or through credit cards payment.
1. Before payment, students must print out their Examination/financial status here after logging in with your registration number.
2. Methods of payment
i. Pay Direct – you would pay directly into ICAN e-collection account and get a receipt at any commercial bank. Log into your account on the main ICAN website and
Enter your deposit slip number on the payment receipt
Input your receipt number
Click on the submit button
You would be given an eVoucher containing 12 digits and a 6 digits Pin and serial numbers respectively. You would use them to complete your online registration.
Log into the web address on the eVoucher to finally complete registration for the exams.
ii. Credit card payment – log into your account, input your registration number to see your financial status.
Under method of payment, select ‘Pay online on Verve/Mastercard’ or ‘Pay online on Visa card‘
Click ‘Sign on‘ to set up your account or simply enter your password if you had already set up your account.
Scanned copy of your passport
Scanned copy of your signature
2. Go to address on the e-Voucher to complete the registration form. Click ‘Submit’ when you finish
3. Print the following after clicking the Submit button
Completed online examination form
Examination timetable and centers
Examination offenses and sanctions in case of any breach
You must study the offenses and warning thoroughly not to be disqualified unnecessarily.
The exams fees and the exemptions fee are usually communicated to students when the exam dates are announced by ICAN. These fees vary from year to year.
You should note that the fees could he adjusted at any time.
Studying for the Exams
It is advisable to look for a center close to you where ATS students are coached on how to write and pass the exams. All of these centers are not owned or run by ICAN. Though the reputable ones are certified by ICAN.
A simple Google search can bring up a list of good study centers close to your location.
On the other hand, if you feel up to it, you can collect the study packs from the liaison office close to your location and study on your own. Or you can download them from here.
These study materials are good aids for preparing for the exams. The payment of the registration fee already entitles you to these study aids.
Download the syllabus here to get a comprehensive take on course outlines and recommended textbooks. Also, you should download the examination regulation here to get a hint of how the examinations are regulated and the grading scheme.
All things being equal, you would get your AAT status after one and half years. That should qualify you to move on the intermediate stage of the road towards full ICAN membership as a chartered accountant.