If you are a commerce student, the most common career option that you would have heard of is CA. Although Chartered Accountancy is a very good career option, it is not the only option. Irrespective of whether you are a class 12th student or a commerce graduate, doing a professional course helps you to get a very good career opportunities.

Though some of the courses in this list requires you to be a graduate and have some work experience, knowing what to do early on helps you to chalk out a better career for yourself. So, today we look at different career options available to you if you are a commerce student that don’t necessarily have to be CA.


ACCA stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants that provides the qualification of Chartered Certified Accountants. ACCA is an International degree while CA is an Indian degree. 

ACCA has three levels, known as, Applied Knowledge Level, Applied Skills Level, and Strategic Professional Level. There are a total of 13 papers in ACCA. 

The first 4 papers of ACCA are on-demand, that is, you can choose when do you want to give the exam. You are considered to have passed the paper even if you are unable to pass the entire level, unlike CA where there is an overall minimum marks requirement along with passing all the subjects of a group. 

Who should do ACCA?

If you want a career in Accounting along with an International degree that is recognized in over 180 countries then ACCA could be a good option for you. It opens the door for you to work anywhere in the world. 

2. CMA

CMA stands for Cost and Management Accountants. It is a professional course provided by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India. CMA is similar to CA as around 70% of the subject matter is same. The difference lies in the specialisation. 

CA is more focused on auditing, compliance, and taxation part whereas CMA is more concerned with the cost accounting or cost auditing part. There are three levels in CMA – Foundation, Intermediate and Final. To become a CMA professional, you have to clear all the three levels.

Who should do CMA?

If you are more interested in the cost accounting than the financial accounting then CMA is a better option for you. You can start CMA after completing your 12th standard or after finishing your graduation. If you pursue CMA after 12th you have to clear all the three levels whereas if you pursue it after graduation, you only need to clear Intermediate and Final. 

3. CS

CS stands for Company Secretary and it is a professional course provided by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India. This course is also divided into three levels – Foundation, Executive and Professional

As compared to the other courses on the list, CS is more theoretical. There are a lot of concepts to be learnt and sections to be remembered. This course trains you to handle the legal aspects of a firm. 


Who should do CS?

If you are someone who is interested in subjects like law and enjoy the legal aspects of a business then CS could be a good option for you. You can pursue CS right after clearing the 12th standard or you can also pursue it after your graduation. If you start after the 12th, you have to clear all three levels whereas if you start after graduation you only need to clear Executive and Professional. 

4. CPA

CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant and is offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. It is another professional course in the industry of Accounting and Finance. Unlike other courses on the list, you can not do CPA right after completing your 12th standard. 

For pursuing CPA, you must have done your 12th standard with commerce stream and studied Mathematics, Economics and Accounting as your core subjects. You need to complete your graduation in order to pursue CPA. It can be an additional course that you can do if you are interested in working in US companies. 

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CPA exam consists of four sections – Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG). You need to pass all the sections within 18 months to become a CPA. 

Who should do CPA?

Although you can’t do CPA after 12th but if you are interested in working in the US, you can plan out your career early on and prepare accordingly. CPA is usually done by people who already hold a professional accounting degree and plan on to working in companies in the US or the US companies operating in India. 

5. CFA

CFA stands for Chartered Financial Analyst. It is a globally recognized professional course offered by the CFA Institute, USA. There are three levels in CFA comprising of 10 core subjects. CFA exams happen 4 times in a year.

Like CPA, you can not do CFA right after class 12th. You need to have completed your graduation in any field in order to be eligible for the CFA exams. Along with that you also need a minimum of 4 years’ experience in order to pursue CFA.

Who should do CFA?

If you are interested in the field of financial services, you can go for the CFA course. If jobs like Research Analysts, Portfolio Managers, and Investment Banking Analysts sounds interesting to you then you can go for CFA. You can start preparing for it early on and give the exams as and when you become eligible. 

6. FRM

FRM stands for Financial Risk Manager and is a course awarded by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). With the increase in the need for risk identification, evaluation, and management the demand for FRM is also increasing.

You can register for FRM right after class 12th as there is no eligibility criteria for registration. There are two levels in FRM comprising of 10 topics. To obtain the FRM certificate you need to clear both the levels. After clearing the levels you need to obtain two years of relevant work experience in risk profile. 

Who should do FRM?

If you are interested in risk management, you can go for FRM. After receiving the FRM charter you can go in the position of Risk Analyst, Operation Risk Officer, Risk Consultant, Portfolio Manger, Credit Risk Specialists, etc. 

All the courses mentioned in the list require a high level of skills. The more skilled you are, the better salary you will receive. The international professional courses open doors to work globally. 

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