Accountancy requirements, benefits and reviews
If you are looking at becoming an accountant, you may find it confusing to decide what to study and which route to take. In this article, we’ll look at the differences between the Bachelor of Accounting degree and the Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy degree.
As the names suggest, they are both quite similar degrees and are easily confused with each other. Depending on your interests and goals, one of them may be more suitable than another. We will look at the differences, similarities and requirements for each of these accounting degrees so you can make a well-informed choice.
Both of these qualifications can be used to become a chartered accountant, but the Bachelor of Accounting is the more direct route. The Bachelor of Accounting degree is also known as the chartered accountant (CA) stream and has been developed in conjunction with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica). Saica is the local industry body that ensures the quality of its members and you are only able to practice as a chartered accountant once you have completed board exams and become a Saica member.
There are, however, several other types of accountants and the Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting would allow you to go on to do an Accounting Honours degree where you could specialise in internal auditing, taxation and financial management. If after completing a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting degree, you happen to decide that you want to become a chartered accountant, then you could do a Bridging Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (BCTA) so that you can switch over to the CA stream, as if you had completed your Bachelor of Accounting degree.
Accountants are needed by all but the smallest of businesses, meaning the possible list of employers is immense. Private businesses and government departments as well as charities and other nonprofit organisations all need accountants to manage their books and finances.
At the top end, there are four companies that dominate the international world of accounting and employ more accountants across the world than any other single company. Commonly known as the “big four”, they are the following:
Although they dominate, they are not the only large accounting firms in South Africa. The SA accounting industry has had fair success in promoting transformation and there are now several large locally-owned accounting firms. It is also worth noting that there are also very many small accounting firms and self-employed accountants that have sought to follow their own career paths.
Here are some other large accounting firms in South Africa that run graduate recruitment programmes.
The academic requirements for a Bachelor of Accounting degree are a little bit higher than for a Bachelor of Commerce, although they are fairly similar. For this example, we are using the requirements of the full-time contact course offered by UJ, but the admission requirements are largely the same at other major South African universities that offer it.
To study for a Bachelor of Accounting degree, South Africans require a Senior Certificate or a National Senior Certificate that meets a certain threshold, while non-South Africans will need a comparable school leaving certificate.
The University of Johannesburg uses an Admissions Point Score (APS) which is based on the results from your final school-leaving exams. To study a Bachelor of Accounting requires an APS of 33 as well as the following subject-specific minimums:
- English with an APS of 4
- Maths with an APS of 5 (Mathematical Literacy is not accepted)
You can work out your APS by using the point system below to allocate the related number of points to each of your final exam results. Do this for each of your six subjects and then add them up to get to your APS total. (Please note that Life Orientation does not count towards the APS score.)
- 7 points for 80% – 100%
- 6 points for 70% – 79%
- 5 points for 60% – 69%
- 4 points for 50% – 59%
- 3 points for 40% – 49%
- 2 points for 30% – 39%
- 1 points for 0% – 29%
For comparison, here are the requirements for UJ’s online Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy course.
As with the Bachelor of Accounting, South Africans require a Senior Certificate or a National Senior Certificate that meets a certain threshold, while non-South Africans need a comparable school leaving certificate.
Applicants require a total APS of 28 (compared with 33 for the BAcc) as well as the following subject specific minimums.
- English with an APS of 4
- Maths with an APS of 4 (Mathematical Literacy is also not accepted and this compares with an APS of 5 for the BAcc)
Now that you better understand the differences between these two similar accounting degrees you might have already decided whether you would like to pursue either of these academic paths.
Should you prefer the flexibility that the BCom would afford you, then you may want to look at UJ’s online Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy course. It is offered fully online allowing you the further flexibility to study when you want from wherever you want. You can do the course over a minimum of four years while still working at the same time.