How to Become a CPA

A Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation is your passport to success. It provides you with the toolkit of skills and knowledge that are in high demand by top organizations globally. Being a CPA is your ticket to earning big, but it’s about more than big salaries. It’s about having the designation that gives you the opportunity to build the career you want.

Take your first step today to become a CPA

Step 1: Meet the subject area coverage

Complete the subject area coverage required for admission to the CPA Professional Education Program (PEP). This can do done through post-secondary courses or the preparatory courses offered by CPA Ontario.

Do you have questions, about why you should become a CPA, how to become a CPA or what the CPA Certification Program is?  Visit Learn more about the CPA designation, register for a CPA Info Session at a location near you, or sign up for a webinar.


Step 2: Submit a transcript to identify your entry point into the CPA Program

A complete transcript assessment with all post-secondary institution transcripts and supplementary documentation must be submitted 6 weeks prior to any CPA program enrolment deadline to ensure enrolment in a course and/or exam. Transcript submission deadlines for enrolment in a module and/or exam are in the PEP schedule and preparatory course schedule .

Once your transcript assessment has been performed, please allow up to 10 business days for processing of complete student registration applications. Applications not submitted within these timelines cannot be guaranteed enrolment.

Click here to view the 6 Steps to submitting a transcript.

Step 3: Register as a student and enrol in the program

After following steps 1 and 2, you will receive instructions on how to register as a CPA Ontario student or click here to register now.

Once you have registered as a student, and depending on the subject area coverage of your post-secondary studies, you will be enrolled in either:

Preparatory courses for the CPA program

  • The preparatory courses for the CPA program cover the prerequisites required for admission to CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP). The preparatory courses are delivered on a part-time basis through a combination of online, self-study and optional classroom learning.

CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP)

  • The CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) is a two-year, part-time graduate-level program that prepares you to meet the needs of industry, government and public practice. The program culminates in a final examination. A 4-year undergraduate degree is required for admission to PEP.

If you are currently employed, complete an initial assessment within the Practical Experience Reporting Tool (PERT) to assess if you are in a relevant position.  This can occur before, during or after your enrollment in CPA PREP or CPA PEP.

To become a CPA, 30 months of qualifying practical experience is required.  Relevant positions can be obtained through the following routes: Pre-Approved Programs and/or Experience Verification. 

Overview of the CPA practical experience requirements

Mentorship: The Importance of Networking Now

The CPA mentorship program is a required component of the practical experience training that future CPAs must complete as they work toward earning their CPA designation.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pre-approved program: Future CPAs are matched with a CPA mentor by the organization offering the program.
  • Experience verification: Future CPAs seek out their own CPA mentor to find a successful fit. Here’s how you can find one. The profession will help match CPA students/candidates with CPA mentors if they are unsuccessful in finding a CPA mentor.

Learn more about how the mentorship program works and the key benefits for you as a CPA student or candidate.

Finding a Relevant Position

For more information, check out: CPA Practical Experience Requirements 


Step 4: Complete the CPA Certification Program

CPA PEP takes approximately two years to complete on a part-time basis through a combination of online, self-study and classroom learning.

Program Modules

  • Core 1+2 integrate the six core competencies of a CPA with an emphasis on financial reporting and management accounting.
  • Electives 1+2 deepen knowledge in a particular subject area. If you plan to become a licensed public accountant, you must complete the assurance and taxation electives. Otherwise, you complete any two of the four electives:
    • Assurance
    • Finance
    • Performance Management
    • Taxation

Each core and elective module includes an examination that must be successfully completed for admission to the next module.

  • Capstone 1 develops your leadership and professional skills. This module includes presentations and team-based assignments, culminating in a business case completed with your team.
  • Capstone 2 prepares you for the Common Final Examination (CFE) and focuses on applying your knowledge of the core competencies to business cases.

Common Final Examination

The CFE is a three-day examination that requires you to demonstrate your knowledge in one of financial reporting or management accounting, and one of assurance, finance, performance management or taxation. Breadth must be demonstrated in these six core competencies.  

Further details about CPA PEP, including costs, dates, locations and much more are included in the Information and Study Guide.


Step 5: Earn your CPA designation

Chartered Professional Accountants have a valuable set of skills that commands higher earning power, more responsibility and more opportunity. Take your pick of positions in prestigious organizations in any sector, including sports, business, energy and not-for-profit. You may even choose to pursue opportunities abroad or make your mark closer to home.