Non-accounting professionals and students in higher institutions in Nigeria always wonder if it is possible to become a chartered accountant. The question is reasonable given the fact that chartered accountants seem to live in a rarefied world of their own.
Being a chartered accountant is the highest point of any accountant’s career. Most especially if one is an ICAN certified chartered accountant. For outsiders, ICAN certified accountants are the exclusive preserve of people who studied accounting at the University.
The logic is simple. Doctors have the Nigerian Medical Association, while lawyers register with the NBA. Engineers, Pharmacists, and other professions too have their own bodies which are the exclusive preserve of practicing professionals.
The simple answer to the question of if you can be chartered accountant with your BSc in Agriculture or HND in whatever course is yes.
But before we tell you how that is possible, it is important to have a look at why professionals in other fields would want to become chartered accountants.
Why become a chartered accountants?
1. Chartered accountants are some of the most sought after professionals in the country. To put it in context, there are less than fifty thousand ICAN certified chartered accountants in Nigeria today. For a nation of approximately 200 million, that is a ratio of 1 accountant to 4000 people. That is very poor.
For a body that was established over 50 years ago, the rate of growth of its members is lagging behind the population growth and the needs of the country.
This means there is a big shortage of chartered accountants in the country. Hence, the lucrative nature of the certification.
2. An ICAN-certified chartered accountant is a qualification that opens doors internationally for you. ICAN is recognized globally as a reputable body with its high-quality, world-class examinations.
So with your certification, you can practice anywhere in the world without the need to undergo any extra examination or testing. All you need to do is to register with the local regulatory council in these countries.
3. As a chartered accountant, you can easily set up your own accounting/consulting firm.
Since it is generally known that chartered accountants are grounded in practical economics, marketing, and management information systems, other companies are in need of their services as consultants.
So in addition to your initial non-accounting degree or profession, you now become a much sought-after professional as chartered accountant registered with ICAN.
How to be a chartered from a non-accounting field
The process of becoming a chartered accountant is very straightforward and uncomplicated. It can be summarized in these steps:
- Register and pay the required fees
- Write and pass the foundation exams
- Write and pass all stages of the intermediate and professional exams.
The following are the generals requirements for all students who wish to become chartered accountants through ICAN. Note that these three requirements have nothing to do with what you studied at the University.
The requirements you need are
1. A first degree from any ICAN-approved University in Nigeria. All universities accredited as a degree-awarding Institution in Nigeria fall under ICAN-approved institution.
2. An HND from any nationally accredited Polytechnic in Nigeria
3. Colored Passport photograph. This would be scanned and uploaded during the registration.
4. A referee who must be a chartered accountant
Again, all the above have nothing to do with your course of study. Once you meet the above requirements, you can proceed to start your registration.
Registration and application steps
1. Head to any accredited bank and buy a PIN voucher that would enable you to log into the application portal. Zenith and Fidelity banks are the usual banks to obtain the vouchers.
2. The registration is done online. So if you meet the prerequisites, you can head over to the online application portal on the ICAN website.
You must make sure all the information you provide in the application form are correct and verifiable. This is because any wrong information can lead to a rejection of your application. And the application fee would not be refunded.
3. After using the information on the Voucher to log into the ICAN website, over the pointer over the ‘Students’ tab and click on the ‘New Students Professional Registration‘ to open the form. Proceed to fill the form.
4. Scan your colored passport photograph and upload it to the form.
5. Click ‘Submit’ two times when you have finished filling the form.
6. Print a copy of the application form. In the space provided, you need to sign your name.
7. Take the printed application form and photocopies of your credentials to your referee for certification.
Now the following steps are very important to complete the registration.
1. Fill the membership number, name and phone number of your referee in the required section of the printed application form
2. Have the following with you:
- Original copy of the voucher bought from the bank
- 2 signed copies of your passport
- Original copies of the bank teller used for paying the application fee.
Put all these in a large official envelope together with the filled application form and deliver it to ICAN office.
Most cities in Nigeria have regional ICAN offices. You can deliver it personally or send it by post to the correct ICAN address. Click here to get the address of the ICAN liason office closest to you
If you did everything right, your application would be approved and a student registration number given to you. This is the number you would use to log into your dashboard on the ICAN website to see, review/update your details.
On your dashboard, you would see your registration certificate. You can print that.
However, if for some reason you don’t get contacted with your registration details, endeavor to keep checking on their website or call the customer care service to ask about the status of your application.
As a non-accounting student, you need to pass through three stages of written exams before you can be certified as an accountant.
The stages are:
The foundation exams are organized to ground you in college level accounting education. You would write about five papers at this stage.
The intermediate level would require that you write and pass 6 courses while the professional has two stages with a total of 8 courses.
You must pass all the papers in the first stage before moving on to the next and final stage.
How much it would cost you?
Though the fees could be adjusted at any time, this is how much it would cost to become an ICAN chartered accountant
Application fee for foundation members – N40,000
Examination fee for each level of the exam (known as diets) – N100,000
Yearly subscription – N4000
A one-time fee of N2000.
Note that the final amount you pay would depend on how fast you complete all the stages. Obviously, if you don’t repeat any diet (stage), the cost would be minimal.
Additional or extra costs can come from registering with study centers if you feel you need help passing the exams. Buying of books and some official study materials should also be noted as important factors in your overall cost.
Examination dates and other issues
Exams are always slated for May and November of each year. The structure is pretty straightforward. You are entitled to write one stage in each exam period.
For instance, as a non-accounting student, and depending on when you registered, you would take your foundation exam in either May or November. If you passed all your papers, you would then take the intermediate exams in the next exam period.
In a best case scenario, you can finish all the exams in two years, that is, from foundation to the second stage of the professional exam can be completed in two years.
All ICAN students have a ten-year time limit to complete all the exams. After 10 years without being able to complete the exams, ICAN would withdraw a student’s membership.
You can download the ICAN syllabus here for further information.