Which Career to Choose: CA, CMA or CS?

Which Career to Choose: CA, CMA or CS?


  • CA Satish Jalan

We all aspire to become somebody in our life, and for that, we tend to work hard for it and that’s exactly what we should do because nothing comes the easy way and if it does, it may not be good enough.

In this blog, we will understand what are the best career options between CA, CMA, or CS, but the truth is that you can’t select the best of them because all three are the best. 

The real question is what do you want to achieve and how much time are you willing to dedicate to get one of these three great qualifications?

The answer to select between them depends upon where you are standing in your life right now.

For example, 

  • If you are a Class 12th pass out then you have a different set of options to choose from.
  • If you have completed your B.Com then you may have different career-building objectives. By different career-building objectives, I mean, how many years you are willing to dedicate to the course.

It is also important to know what suits you in studying, for example, you prefer to study more theory or more practicals (numerical) or you can study both. 

It also depends on what career you are looking forward to after your degree (job, practice, business).

It also depends on your affordability to invest in monetary terms.

When you are evaluating CA, CMA, and CS you might have noticed a lot of similarities between these courses, which might have brought you to this article. Let me ease it out for you. 

The job of CS is to look after and understand the compliance structure of the company. The job of CMA is to do a thorough study of Cost and Management Accounting and the job of CA is to work in the Finance, Auditing, and Tax department of the company.

Don’t hesitate or get confused, your cloud of doubts and multiple selection options will turn into one right decision after reading this blog, just hang on. We will understand all of the three now, one by one.

Who is a CA

Chartered Accountant (CA)

CA’s are the rightful members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). 

CA is an expert in Accounting, Finance, Auditing, Taxation, and Management.

Scope after CA

  • Every moderate and big corporation hires a CA for their corporate tax return filing, financial advisory, and auditing financial statements. They help the companies fulfill almost all of their financial needs, obviously by helping them make smart financial decisions on their assets and liquids.
  • Every company in India needs to have its financial statements audited.
  • A CA has knowledge of every compulsory subject and has the power to outperform the top school MBA guys and climb the management ladder faster. 
  • Growing complexities requires the companies to hire multiple CAs internally also.
  • A CA can do all the types of work that an individual, small business, or big company needs.

    Joining CA Course

  • To become a CA, you must have patience because it’s a long process to become a CA. You have to clear three phases of examinations: CA Foundation, CA Intermediate, and CA Finals, respectively. And you will also have to do practical training for three years under the firms that fall under the guidelines of ICAI.
  • The best option for CA is just after you pass the 12th standard because it’s a time-consuming career path. However, you may also start this course post your graduation under the direct entry route. It requires you to have basic knowledge in accounts, mathematics, and statistics,

CA is challenging as a career that requires a lot of hard work but the wait is worth the title, respect, and the paychecks it brings to you.

Cost and Management Accountant (CMA).

Who is a CMA?

CMA’s are the rightful members of the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICMAI). 

CMA is an expert in costing, cost control, cost management, cost audit.

Scope after CMA

  • Cost Management is a necessary task in manufacturing industries. And as India is progressing to be a manufacturing hub, the demand of CMAs is also fast growing in the market. CMAs are as much in demand as CAs. 
  • CMAs work in cost management, cost audit, and cost reduction of a company/ firm. The scope of CMA is such that they may become a financial analyst or a finance controller or a finance director in a company..
  • CMAs have high demand in PSUs and Large Manufacturing Companies.
  • Specialist in Cost Audit but the scope of Cost Audit is restricted to big companies.
  • Usually costing is everywhere, so a Cost Accountant is of need in all the organizations. 
  • The Cost Accountant course has been designed to match all the aspects of a business to be able to do different things in a company. This has widened the scope of this course. It's very much growing.

The students most prefer the CMA course for its passing percentage, placements, curriculum, ease of entry, and manageability with work.

Joining CMA Course

  • Just like the CA, for CMA also you will have to clear the three phases of the examination which are the CMA Foundation, CMA Intermediate, CMA Finals respectively.
  • On average, it takes 3 to 4 years to become a CMA in India. You can opt for the CMA career after the 12th standard by appearing in CMA Foundation exam or through Direct Entry Route, after completing your BCom Exam.
  • After the CMA Intermediate, you will have to do the practical training for 10 months under the ICMAI compliance firm/company, then you may appear for the CMA Finals. The total training is of 3 years to get the degree from ICMAI, but you have an option to get it exempted once you get a job after passing CMA, if you choose not to practice as CMA.
Company Secretary (CS)
Who is a CS?
  • CS’s are the rightful members of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).
  • An expert in Company Law, Corporate and Securities Laws. A CS’s job is to administer the company in the best possible ways within the legal, regulatory, and statutory boundations.

Scope of a CS

  • A CS is a vital link between the company and its Board of Directors, Shareholders, Government, and Regulatory Authorities.
  • A corporate planner and strategic manager.
  • An in-house legal counsel.
  • A conscience seeker of the company - A CS has to keep their ears and eyes open. They need to make sure that all the actions that step up are compliant with company policies.
  • A compliance officer of the company - CS ensures that all the hierarchical management and employees within the company are operating under complete compliance with the law and all the board decisions are implemented successfully and effectively.

Joining CS Course

  • Just like CA and CMA, CS also has three levels of exams named CS Foundation, CS Executive, and CS Professional. All three exams are conducted under the guidance of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI). 
  • Easy to start - nowadays through CSEET Route only. CSEET stands for CS Executive Entrance Test. This has replaced CS Foundation Exams. Once you pass this exam, you are eligible for CS Executive.
  • Unlike CA and CMA, which require both theoretical and practical knowledge to pass the exams, CS is mostly theoretical. No doubt, the salary package is also very good in the field. 
  • People from a law background prefer it the most.
  • You can pursue the CS course after class 12 through CSEET route or after graduation through direct entry in CS Executive. The time required to become a CS is 3 years as there is no pre-condition of training for this course to appear in its finals. 

How to finally decide?

Some of the deciding factors are
  • Entry Route Open for you: Depends on your educational qualification/marks and current situation of education based upon which you can choose the Foundation Route and Direct Entry Route. If you have an average score in BCOM, opt for the CMA course in the direct entry. If you are a bright student who can study with commitment, right after class 12, select CA.
  • Time Required: Every course has a different time commitment. Choosing the best depends upon how much time you are willing to give to study. CA requires you to do a compulsory articleship for 3 years. If you want a degree while working, you may opt for CMA or CS.
  • Your likeness of theory and practical: For theory-based, prefer CS.
  • The Support System: Guidance/Tuitions - However you can avail yourself the best of guidance from the best via online mode.
  • Affordability of Fees: Institute Fees + Tuition Fees + Accommodation Cost (if applicable). CA Classes cost the highest on an overall basis.
  • Future plans: Practice/Business/Job. CA has the best opportunity for practice.

If you start right after class 12, you may choose to study all three courses together as well. In a span of 6 years (maximum), it is also possible to pursue and complete all three degrees together. But, the idea is not to add multiple degrees after your name. The idea is to be a successful person, which is also possible if you have done one degree with full vigour and commitment. Whatever you choose, stay committed to your choice. 

If you are a parent and are concerned for your child’s future after Class 12, I have a few words for you. Look, the concern is obvious, you can guide him/her to the options they have but let them decide themselves for what they want to choose because he/she completed Class 12 by commerce stream and knows what he/she is good at. Some are good with mathematics (practicals) and some are good with economics (theory). So, let them evaluate and choose the options on the table.

Still indecisive or have questions? Don't worry, get in touch with us and we can guide you through. Let us know your queries in the comments below.

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