Accounting for your success: CPA expert shares insights on reaching your career goals as a newcomer accountant

We connected with Carmen Jacques, CPA, CGA, from CPA Ontario, to share her career development advice for internationally-educated accounting professionals.

Accreditation and Licensing,Career Success and Planning,Education and Training

August 2, 2022

Estimated reading time: 3.5 minutes

In summary:

  • Job prospects for accounting professionals in Canada project to be strong in the coming years.
  • Becoming an accountant in Canada requires accreditation from a CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) provincial or territorial body.
  • CPA designation has been shown to lead to higher income and supports career advancement.
  • You can build your professional network as a newcomer in Canada by finding other accounting professionals through professional associations or local meetups.

Across the country, career opportunities for accounting professionals are growing. Government of Canada labour market data, along with Windmill Microlending’s own Trending Jobs Report, indicate in the coming years, demand for accountants in most provinces and territories will be strong.

This presents significant income growth and career advancement opportunities for internationally-trained accountants. In many parts of Canada, newcomers already represent a significant number of accounting professionals. For example, in British Columbia, immigrants comprise approximately 37 per cent of those working in the field. As the existing accounting workforce rapidly ages in Canada, this will create more job opportunities for newcomer accountants to find employment and achieve career success.  

As a skilled immigrant or refugee, there are many different success strategies you can employ to become an accountant or grow your accounting career in Canada. Because the accounting profession in Canada is regulated by the provincial accounting bodies of Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs),  and the Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB), it’s important to consider pursuing accreditation, professional development courses, certifications like your CPA  designation or studying in other CPA-accredited programs. According to recent salary trend reports, accounting professionals with CPA designations, or who pursue CPA-professional development programs, have higher salaries as compared to those who don’t.

Looking to better understand the steps you need to take to become a licensed accountant in Canada? Download our free Educational Pathways for Skilled Newcomers here.

We connected with Carmen Jacques, CPA, CGA and Student Recruitment Manager for CPA Ontario to share her career development advice for internationally-educated accounting professionals to succeed in Canada. She discusses four success strategies to help you become an accountant in your new country and launch a career full of rewards and opportunity.

Carmen Jacques - Web


Carmen Jacques (pictured), a trained accounting professional originally from India, says the journey to accounting career success in Canada isn’t easy but can be greatly rewarding.

Success strategy #1: Embrace the journey

Moving to a new country is never easy. You’ll encounter new professional requirements, need to adapt to a new workplace culture and build a new network. That’s a lot of change but also a lot of opportunity. Understanding the challenges ahead and keeping focused on your long-term goals—career stability, professional respect, an improved quality of life – will help you manage any bumps along the road.

Success strategy #2: Find out how to obtain your CPA professional designation

The CPA designation is well respected in the business community and can open doors for you across Canada. However, the specific requirements to get your CPA designation in Canada will vary depending on your education, work experience or the professional designations you’ve already attained. For example, if you hold a professional designation recognized under a Mutual Recognition Agreement with Canada, you may be able to obtain your CPA designation without the need for additional education or testing.

On the other hand, if you have a qualification from an international post-secondary institution, you will need to find out what additional educational requirements are necessary to obtain a CPA designation. A good first step is to visit the CPA provincial or regional organization (also called provincial or territorial body) website where you live and wish to work.

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Success strategy #3: Learn about Canadian workplace culture

Each country has a unique workplace culture. From resume style to commonly-used phrases, professional expectations may differ significantly from those you’re used to. If you’re hoping to advance your accounting career in Canada, it will be helpful to learn more about these differences as you begin your job search. This will give you time to adapt and learn practices that may put you on the fast track to success. CPA Canada has developed a free virtual course focused on supporting internationally-trained accountants to adapt to Canadian workplace culture. Learn more.

Success strategy #4: Network, network, network

Meeting the right people at the right time can make all the difference in your accounting career. Building relationships with a wide variety of professionals across industries and organizations will help you better understand the job market, where you live, and can even lead to job opportunities. A natural starting place is to find a community of CPAs who will have knowledge of the journey you’re preparing to take and can help make it easier for you. Organizations like Windmill partner, Association of Filipino-Canadian Accountants, or accounting meetup groups can help you strengthen your professional network in Canada. Additionally, CPA bodies across the country often host networking events, including some that focus on internationally-educated professionals. The larger and stronger your network, the greater the amount of support you’ll have in becoming a CPA and finding a rewarding career.

Below are additional resources to help you on your journey to become an accountant in Canada:

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