What is the Difference Between CA and CS?

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Difference Between CA and CS

Chartered Accountancy and Company Secretary are two sought-after courses coming under the Commerce stream. Regarded as frequently opted courses after 12 Commerce, both CA and CS are often considered interrelated in terms of course content and professional job profiles. However, they may seem similar but actually CA and CS are two different courses that emphasize two separate departments in a business firm. They are also named among the toughest exams in India. For all those going through the conundrum of how to decide between these two, here is a blog elucidating the difference between CA and CS. 

Difference Between CA and CS

Both these certifications vary greatly in terms of their course structure, duration, levels of study, job opportunities, etc. Tabulated below are the major points of difference between CA and CS:

Parameter CACS 
Name of the CourseChartered Accountancy Company Secretary
Description CA Course aims to equip students with the intricate knowledge of Accounting and Finance CS provides students with an expert understanding of Corporate Governance and Company Law
Conducting BodyInstitute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) Institute of Company Secretaries in India 
Duration 5 Years2-3 Years
Qualifying Levels CA Foundation Integrated Professional Competence CA Final Foundation Course Executive ProgramProfessional Course 
Subjects of Study CA course focuses on subjects like Taxation, Finance, Banking, Accounting, etc. These subjects include direct taxes, fundamentals, and basics of accounting, auditing and assurance, CAFM (cost accounting and financial management), MAFA (management accounting and financial analysis), etc.CS course offers subjects that help aspirant become an expert in company law. These subjects in detail are Tax Laws, Company Law, General and Commercial Laws, Economic Labor and Industrial Laws, Banking and Insurance, Basic Economics, and Business Environment, etc. 
Levels A CA course can be cleared in 4 levels:
CPT exam
CA Final exam 
A CS course can be cleared under 3 levels:
Foundation course 
Executive program 
Professional program 
Foundation Exam Mandatory for all Mandatory only in the case of an undergraduate. Commerce graduates can directly appear for the executive program. 
Articleship Minimum for 3 Years 15 Months of Training
Duties A CA is required to advise the company on matters concerned with finance and taxation A CS is required to act as the compliance officer for the company 
Exams CA exams are conducted every year in the month of May and November CS exams are conducted every year in the month of June and December 
Courtesy: CS LawGuru Dushyant Jain

Career Pathways

One of the prominent differences between CA and CS courses is the career pathways. Being prominent courses in the field of Commerce, it is essential for the aspirants to possess a strong knowledge of core subjects under this stream. The journey of attaining esteemed qualifications differs greatly.  Let us understand in simple steps, the processes of becoming a CA as well as a CS. 

Steps to Become a Chartered Accountant

You will be required to complete the below-mentioned steps to become a CA:

  • In the first stage, an applicant will have to get himself or enrolled with the ICAI.
  • In the next step, an applicant will have to clear the CPT or the common proficiency test and will also need to pursue a full-time B.COM course (Bachelor Course) (Bachelor Course).
  • The next phase is for an applicant to pass the IPC (Integrated Professional Competence) Examination.
  • In the fourth phase, an aspirant must complete a three-year articleship with a CPA company.
  • The last stage is for a candidate to qualify for the CA Final test.

Steps to Become a Company Secretary 

If you aspire to earn the qualification of a Company Secretary, you will have to complete the following steps:

  • The initial step for an application will be to register with the ICSI.
  • The next stage is for a candidate to pass the foundation test. If a candidate is a commerce graduate, he or she may not need to take the foundation test; instead, they may apply straight to the executive programme.
  • The next stage is for an aspirant to pass the executive programme.
  • The final stage is for an applicant to pass the professional programme.

Thus, while both CA and CS require aspirants to qualify for certain levels, these course levels immensely in terms of the process, duration and structure.

Eligibility Criteria

Both CA and CS are some of the most sought-after professions in India and many candidates start applying for CA vs CS after finishing their 12th standard. Here are the detailed eligibility criteria you need to follow in order to qualify for the two programmes-

Chartered Accountant

  • Candidates who have qualified for their 12th exams with a minimum aggregate of 50% marks can register for the CA Foundation 2021 exam.
  • Candidates who have an aggregate of 55% marks in graduation or post-graduation degree in Commerce stream or its equivalent from any recognized university/open university are exempted from CA Foundation 2021.

Company Secretary

  • Students who have qualified for their 12th exam from any stream can take up the ICSI Foundation Course (an 8-month long course) It is essential to qualify for the course within three years of admission.
  • Candidates have to qualify for ICSI Intermediate and Final course, followed by short-term training and practical training. 

Difference Between the Coursework 

The curriculum as well as course structure constitutes the major criteria of difference between CA and CS. The duties of a Company Secretary are managing the tax records of the company and ensuring that all the legal and statutory regulations are met, and the CS course equips them with knowledge of handling the legal and financial departments of a firm.

On the other hand, Chartered Accountancy is inclined more towards the management of accounts along with analysing the risk in business endeavours and their management. The chartered accountants not only keep a track record of the accounts of the company but also provide financial advice for the betterment of the company. Hence, the course is centred towards concepts like Auditing, Financial Management, Techniques of Accounting, etc.

Fundamentals of AccountingCompany Law
Auditing and AssuranceTax Law
Financial Management and Cost AccountingEconomic Labour and Industrial Law
Direct TaxesGeneral and Commercial Laws
Management AccountingBanking Laws
Financial AnalysisInsurance – Laws and Practices

Duration of CA and CS

Another major difference between CA and CS is their duration. Although CA and CS comprise 3 levels, the duration of these levels vary. CA is considered to be tougher than CS, hence, the duration of each of its course levels is longer than that of CS. On average, it takes an aspirant to complete CA in 5 years including the articles. Whilst CS can be completed in a shorter duration of 2-3 years. 

Scope of CA vs CS

By attaining these elite qualifications, you can explore a wide range of career options. While exploring the difference between CA and CS in terms of a full-time career, Company Secretaries have ample opportunities wherein they can work with an array of organizations or can opt to carry out their work independently. Those who qualify as certified CAs are considered to have better career opportunities than CS. As a CA, you can choose to be a part of Government organizations, private organisations, banks, law firms etc. But most commonly, you can also practice independently and work for multiple clients.

Both these qualifications are financially rewarding and the actual salary package of any of these depends upon the individual’s professional experience as well as the company amongst various other factors. The average salary of CA in India can be somewhere around 7 Lakhs and go up to 30 Lakhs while if you are a Chartered Accountant in the UK, it can be somewhere around 44,000 USD [33,44,000 INR roughly]. On the other hand, Company Secretaries get an average salary package of 5 Lakhs to 10 Lakhs in India while on a global level, it can be even higher, reaching around 51,000 USD [38,76,000 INR roughly] which is even at par with CA.

Note: These average salary packages are only for indicative purposes.

Which One is Easy Between CA and CS?

When it comes to the difficulty level, CA is amongst the toughest courses in the world while CS is considered easier to complete. This is because CS has more theoretical concepts while the latter is focused on calculations, financial statements, analysis and much more. If you are good at comprehending concepts in one go and aren’t much inclined towards number-crunching, then CS is a suitable choice while CA is perfect for those with an educational background in Accounting or Finance as they would be able to tackle the syllabus better.

How to Choose Between CA and CS?

While exploring both these courses, it is normal to get confused between which one suits your candidature and professional journey better. For this, you have to consider the aforementioned factors like duration, course procedure, scope and difficulty level and then peruse which one suits your career profile better. If you aim to build a career in Finance or Accounting then CA must be considered whereas for those aspiring to pursue higher-level managerial roles or in legal management, then CS is the best option. Further, since both these courses have similar content in terms of theory, many students also prepare for these two together and then make their decision accordingly on which exam they are able to crack first. CA after CS is a demanding qualification and once you have cleared CS executive and the articleship training, you can directly appear for IPCC and thus gain both certifications which will broaden your career horizons!


Can one pursue CA and CS courses together? 

You may hold only one Certificate of Practice. As a result, while you will receive full recognition as a CA (Chartered Accountant) or a CS (Company Secretary), you will be unable to practise both. You are only permitted to take one additional course with CA at a time. As a result, you can only pursue graduation while also studying CA and CS. You can either study a CA Course and a CS Course or a CA Course and a Graduation or a CS Course and a Graduation.

Who earns more, CA or CS? 

The average pay for CA is higher than that of CS. The average compensation for a Company Secretary in India is Rs 6 lakhs, according to Glassdoor, whereas the average salary for a Chartered Accountant in India is about Rs 8 lakhs.

Can a CS become CEO?

A company secretary can also be the CEO of the firm, which puts him or her in constant contact with the board of directors. A CS is someone who is involved in various areas for the successful administration of the firm, and as such, he or she has the potential to become the organization’s CEO.

Can a CA become CEO?

Yes, CAs are the most likely to become CEOs. There are several in both the public and private sectors, including Mr Rameswar Thakur, Mr Kumar Mangalam Birla, and many more.

We hope that you are now familiarized with the difference between CA and CS and what sets them apart. Want to pursue a professional course? Reach out to our Leverage Edu experts at 1800572000 and we will assist you in finding the right course and institution that fits your aspirations, interests and career goals.

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