A Quick Guide to Studying Accounting in Canada

By Bryan Kesler Modified on October 28, 2020
Tags : Careers | Money

It's never too late to build a dynamic career in a respected profession.

It's never too late to build a dynamic career in a respected profession.

Choosing a career field is a crucial decision in anyone's life. Accounting is a suitable choice if you have an analytical bent of mind, and want to contribute to a firm's strategic decisions.

Moreover, it is a respected profession that allows you to live a comfortable life. It also helps in building a strong foundation and introduces you to business management fundamentals that will help you build a successful career.

If you're considering a career in accounting, here's an essential detail worth knowing: accounting principles vary across countries. This means you'll have to pursue additional chartered accountant courses or clear the CPA PEP exam if you want to work in a new nation across borders.

Here are some key points to understand about studying accounting in Canada.

Differences in accounting in the US and Canada

Different countries follow different accounting standards, like IFRS and GAAP. Although both US and Canada follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), there are some key differences between the two.

Most of the variations exist in the issuance of financial statements, consolidated statements, assets and liabilities, balance sheets, and income statements. While the AICPA Accounting and Audit Guides govern the US GAAP, the Canadian GAAP is based on the standards in their Accounting Guideline *8.

Let's look at an example of these differences in financial statements. In the US statements, you'll find a claim for assets and liabilities, statements of operations, net asset changes, cash flows, and an investment schedule.

Similar reports in Canada contain statements for cash flow, income, net asset changes, a full year of investment, and other notes. All this information is mandatory. It doesn't require schedules for investments that you'll find in Canadian financial statements.

If you plan to work in Canada after graduation, your best bet is to study in Canada, too.

Types of accounting jobs in Canada

There are lots of paths for employment for new accountants in Canada. Here's a few common ones.

Tax Accountant

Tax laws and regulations are forever changing. Tax accountants work with their clients, individuals, or large corporates to calculate their tax liabilities. Apart from year-end tax filing, they advise their clients on ways to reduce their taxes. In businesses, they study the feasibility of new proposals from a taxation perspective.


For any organization, internal auditors ensure necessary compliances and business controls. External auditors, on the other hand, work on behalf of the government and regulatory bodies. They review internal financial information and assess if they are in line with the laws of the land.

Cost Accountant

No organization can be profitable unless it's on top of its costs. Consisting of both the fixed and the variable costs, costs determine the appropriate budget for producing goods and delivering services.

A cost accountant typically works with the strategy team to evaluate if a proposed plan will be profitable. Moreover, the individual also suggests possible ways to reduce costs in the current business ecosystem.

Forensic Accountant

This job profile is perhaps one of the highest-paying options to explore. Forensic accountants examine the financial statements to investigate any possible fraud or case of embezzlement.

They recreate the financial transfer links to unearth money laundering and typically work with law enforcement agencies.

Accounting Manager

Accounting managers prepare reports for different groups in an organization. They examine the current plans and strategies to forecast expectations. They also prepare reports, like profit and loss reports and earnings reports, and may oversee other accountants as part of this work.

Average accountant's salary

An accountant in Canada can expect an average salary of $58,500 per year. The typical salary range is between $38,000 to $85,000. Forensic accountants, in most cases, earn on the higher side. Managers, too, may earn more after several years of experience.

Canadian degrees in Accounting

If you'd like a rewarding career as an accountant, consider enrolling in one of these popular accounting courses.

Bachelor of Commerce - Accounting Specialization

The BComm degree aims to provide a broad understanding and knowledge of the contemporary business environment and practices. It helps the students in developing the necessary analytical skills and equips them with professional knowledge to work in the field.

Example program: Accountancy - Concordia University

Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Management

This is an accounting and finance degree that covers different subjects like accounting, finance, business analytics, and investment management. The program allows the students to take on prominent roles in business management.

Example program: Accounting and Financial Management - University of Waterloo

Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) - Accounting, Audit, and Information Technology

This unique accounting degree program provides a comprehensive education in accounting, audit, and information technology. The course develops a sound knowledge in the interconnected realms of accounts, audits, and information technology. More and more organizations are looking for digital solutions to enhance their accounting.

Example program: Business Administration: Accounting - George Brown College

Most Canadian firms prefer some kind of experience, even while hiring young graduates. It is advisable to take accountant training while pursuing these Canadian accounting degrees to add weight to the resumé.

US CPA exam vs Canadian CPA exam

The US CPA exam is much more widely recognized and would give you much more career flexibility. However, Canada's CPA exam prepares individuals to work only in Canada's business environment. It doesn't equip the individual to work on across borders.

It is advisable to pursue the US CPA exam if you plan to pursue a global accounting career. If you'd prefer to settle in Canada, the best option is to pursue the CPA program in Canada.


The business environment is dynamic and goes through a cycle of periodic highs and lows. In such an unstable ecosystem, accounting is a profession that ensures job security and a desirable quality of life.

Whether you choose to practice in the USA, Canada, or anywhere else in the world, studying accounting presents challenging opportunities and promises a rewarding time.

Learn more about CPA exams

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