CPA practical experience requirements

To earn the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, Canada’s pre-eminent accounting and business credential, students and candidates must complete relevant practical experience in addition to formal education and the Common Final Examination.

The CPA certification program meets or exceeds the requirements of regulators, global accounting organizations and the Canadian business community for professional accountants working in both public practice and industry. It provides you with the technical and softer skills you need in today’s business marketplace. The knowledge and competencies you gain through practical experience complement what you gain through education.

The CPA Practical Experience Requirements (CPA PER) has been updated to include both the general practical experience requirements for certification as a CPA, and the specific practical experience requirements for those seeking registration to practice public accounting. Candidates pursuing their public accounting designation through the Audit or Review streams should consult the Chargeable Hours Guidance to determine the types of practical experience that qualify for chargeable hours under these streams. The specific regulations and bylaws of the provincial/regional body and the specific licensing regime or authority within each provincial body to control public accounting take precedence over these general requirements.

Changes to the CPA Practical Experience Requirements

The Changes to the CPA Practical Experience Requirements document outlines the changes to the CPA PER that came into effect April 1, 2023.

There are two routes you can take:

  1. Pre-approved programs in training positions that are offered by your employers and have been pre-approved by the profession. These programs are designed for you to meet the practical experience requirements within 30 months. Qualifying experience for the audit and, where applicable, review streams of public accounting, can be gained only through the pre-approved programs.
  2. Experience verification. This flexible route allows you to demonstrate competence and have relevant experience recognized as it is gained at an employer of choice.

You can complete your practical experience requirements through either route or in combination.

There are five common elements that support both routes:

  1. You gain relevant experience and develop as a professional accountant in a minimum of 30 months.
  2. Your experience must be appropriately supervised.
  3. You must record detailed reports at regular intervals.
  4. You must meet and discuss your progress at least semi-annually with a CPA mentor.
  5. Your experience is assessed by the CPA profession.

CPA practical experience policies

The CPA Harmonized Practical Experience Policies outlines the profession’s expectations regarding the implementation of policies for qualifying practical experience, mentorship, transition rules, and reporting and assessment.