ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

When can I do my practical experience and how should I record it?

You will need to do three years’ practical experience to acquire an ACCA practising certificate or an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification.

Up to one year’s experience from before you became an ACCA member can count towards the certificates.

For an ACCA practising certificate, you should ensure that this previous experience:

  • is recorded in the online My Experience recording tool
  • is in line with the practical experience requirements
  • has been confirmed by your Principal
  • and was included in your application for admission to ACCA membership.

However, for a practising certificate and audit qualification, any pre-membership experience must also be documented in a Practising Certificate Training Record.

You can do your two or three years’ post-membership training at any time after becoming a member and should record it in a Practising Certificate Training Record.

Where can I do my practical experience?

For the ACCA practising certificate, practical experience must be gained with an ACCA Approved Employer that has been awarded approval under the practising certificate development stream (Approved Employer-PCD).

For the ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification, you must gain your experience with an ACCA Approved Employer-PCD (Audit).

Can practical experience be gained in a combination of business sectors?

Yes, you may gain experience from a combination of corporate, public sector and public practice employers, provided that they are ACCA Approved Employers - PCD.

However, experience gained for an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification may only be gained in public practice with an ACCA Approved Employer - PCD (Audit).

Can experience gained between completing the examinations and admission to ACCA membership count towards the post-membership training requirement?

No. ACCA affiliates are strongly advised to apply for membership at the earliest opportunity for this reason.

Can I use experience gained in part-time or temporary positions?

Yes, provided that the work experience is of a sufficient breadth and depth to meet the competence requirements.

You may find that experience gained in part-time or temporary positions only allows you to achieve limited competence and may not provide you with sufficient opportunities for career development.

Also, work experience gained on a part-time basis can only count on a pro-rata basis. Therefore, wherever possible, it is advisable to obtain full-time work experience. You must also ensure that any part-time or temporary experience is documented in your Practising Certificate Training Record and it is signed by your Principal.

What if I am self-employed and work on a sub-contract basis?

The provision of basic bookkeeping services directly to the public cannot count towards the practical training requirements for our practising certificates.

However, basic bookkeeping and other accountancy work undertaken on a sub-contract basis for employers who are approved by ACCA may count, provided that it is supervised by a Principal and documented in the Practising Certificate Training Record.

How can I find out if my employer is an ACCA Approved Employer-PCD?

You should contact ACCA Connect for details of Approved Employers.

How does my employer become an ACCA Approved Employer-PCD?

Your employer can apply to register as an Approved Employer-Practising Certificate Development (PCD) online by visiting www.accaglobal.com/employers. Alternatively they can request an application form by contacting ACCA Connect. There is no charge for registering.

Your employer should read the Practising Certificate Training Record guidance notes before applying to ensure that they can satisfy the practical training requirements.

There are lots of benefits for employers in registering. For example, they will gain recognition for their training support and privileged access to training and development information and services.

Can ACCA backdate my employer's registration as an ACCA Approved Employer?

We can backdate registration so that pre-registration training can be counted towards an ACCA practising certificate but this cannot be done for an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification.

My employer is not an ACCA Approved Employer. Can the experience I have gained with them count towards ACCA's practising certificate?

If your employer is not an Approved Employer-PCD, please ask them to register as soon as possible. Please contact ACCA Connect for further advice.

For a practising certificate and audit qualification your experience will only count if the employer is registered as an ACCA Approved Employer-PCD, even if the employer is approved for training by another professional accountancy body. For a practising certificate (without audit qualification), it may be possible for ACCA to accept your experience based on your Practising Certificate Training Record (PCTR) alone, without your employer formally registering as an ACCA Approved Employer-PCD. 

This is known as an ‘administrative backdate’. In this situation, you must still complete a PCTR and it must be signed off by an acceptable principal. Your PCTR will be assessed to confirm that the experience you have obtained is equivalent to the experience you should have obtained in an ACCA Approved Employer-PCD.

Can my Practising Certificate Training Record (PCTR) be completed retrospectively?

Members are required to complete their PCTR forms on an ongoing basis. This will enable your Principal to consider your work experience, monitor the level of audit work (where applicable), plan for your future development, and ensure that you meet the practical experience requirements.

If you complete the forms retrospectively, you may find it difficult to remember what you have done and you may also have problems in getting your experience verified.

If you have completed your PCTR retrospectively it must be done to the same standard and in the same level of detail as an applicant who has been recording his/her experience on an ongoing basis.

PCTRs are checked, in detail, by the Authorisation team and if they are not completed properly they will not be accepted and this will delay your application.

How often should Practising Certificate Training Records (PCTR) be completed?

Members should complete the PCTR forms every six months and when changing roles or leaving an employer. They should then arrange for a review with their Principal or Authorised Supervisor, who should assess progress towards the practical training requirements and plan for future development. (Where an Authorised Supervisor has done the review and sign off, the Principal will need to initial the PCTR2.)

PCTR forms can be downloaded here. An example of a properly-completed PCTR for a six-month period is also available, which shows the level of detail required in the forms.

I am not sure whether I want to obtain an ACCA practising certificate. Should I still complete a Practising Certificate Training Record (PCTR)?

ACCA encourages all members who work for an ACCA Approved Employer-PCD to record their post-membership training in a PCTR for a minimum period of two years.

Completing a PCTR every six months allows you to keep your options open for the future. Even if you have no intention of applying for an ACCA practising certificate or practising certificate and audit qualification now, you can still submit your PCTR to ACCA for assessment in order to ‘bank’ your experience. If you have to complete a PCTR retrospectively, you may find it difficult to recall your experience or have problems getting the experience verified.

My audit experience was obtained a number of years ago. Can I still include it in my PCTR?

ACCA needs to be satisfied that your audit knowledge is up to date and that you remain competent to do audit work.  Therefore, you will need to provide details of the audit experience and audit-related CPD you have achieved in the last two years before a practising certificate and audit qualification can be awarded. You can provide these details on the 'Audit qualification – additional information' form.

When do I need to submit my Practising Certificate Training Record (PCTR) and to whom?

You should submit your PCTR when you have completed and fully documented your post-membership training. You should demonstrate that you have satisfied all the practical training requirements for an ACCA practising certificate or an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification.

Submit your PCTR for assessment to:

Authorisation
ACCA
2 Central Quay
89 Hydepark Street
Glasgow
G3 8BW
United Kingdom.

If you intend to commence practising as soon as your experience has been approved by ACCA, please submit a practising certificate application form along with your PCTR.

How much audit experience should I gain to obtain an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification?

The general rule is that you must obtain 44 weeks’audit experience, at least half of which must be in statutory audit. Audit experience can be obtained during pre- and post-membership training (statutory audit work is audit work undertaken in organisations that have been established under the Companies Acts and whose financial reporting requirements are laid down in the Companies Acts. The PCTR guidance notes provide further information on this.)

I work in an Approved Employer practice but my firm carries out very little audit work. Can I gain the required audit work experience for an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification in another practice?

Yes, so long as the other practice is an ACCA Approved Employer (Audit) and you are supervised by an appropriately qualified Principal there.

You should record this audit work experience in a separate PCTR form and get it  reviewed and verified by the Principal there.

Do I have to gain audit work experience in order to practise as a Chartered Certified Accountant?

No. If you have gained little or no audit work experience, you may apply for an ACCA practising certificate, which allows you to practise as a Chartered Certified Accountant. You can perform any activity constituting public practice but you cannot accept an appointment as an auditor or hold yourself as being available to do so.

However, members in Cyprus who hold an ACCA practising certificate may carry out audit work or other reserved work where they are legally authorised to do so and where they are able to demonstrate such authorisation.

I have produced financial statements for a limited company that does not require an audit, but the work I performed involved the use of procedures similar to an audit. Can this count towards the 44 weeks audit training requirement?

No. Although the work you performed in producing the financial statements for this company may be similar to an audit, you were not required to express an opinion on the financial statements or produce an auditor’s report.

On some assignments I conduct certain aspects of audit work while carrying out accounts preparation. How do I allocate my time?

When determining what constitutes audit work and accounting work, you should always be guided by the competence requirements and examples listed in the Practising Certificate Training Record.

If you have performed any work for an audit client, which contributes towards the formation of the opinion expressed in the auditor’s report, then you may classify this work as audit. You should allocate your time on a reasonable basis.

I am not currently obtaining any management experience. Is this a problem?

Yes. If you decide to enter into public practice in the future, you will need to know how to monitor, control and improve the services offered by your practice.

The management competence requirements listed in the Practising Certificate Training Record are designed to reflect this. You are advised to discuss the opportunities available for you to develop the required management competences with your employer.

Can a line manager supervise my training towards an ACCA practising certificate or an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification?

A Principal may delegate the sign off of an individual’s PCTR forms to an Authorised Supervisor. The Authorised Supervisor does not need to hold an ACCA practising certificate or an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification, or be a practising member of any other professional accountancy body which is recognised for audit purposes.

However, the Principal must ensure that an Authorised Supervisor is a senior member of staff in the organisation and has knowledge of the individual’s work and the training undertaken.

The Principal must still consider your completed PCTR1 Record, Reflection and Review and should provide appropriate comments. They will still retain overall responsibility for your training and must therefore countersign completed training records to confirm all the requirements have been met.

Can my current Principal verify experience gained at a previous employer?

No.  You should ensure that your Practising Certificate Training Record forms are brought up to date and reviewed when you change jobs or leave an employer.

I work outside public practice and am the most senior member of accounting staff in my organisation. Who can act as my principal?

You may arrange for a representative from your organisation's auditors or accountants to act as your Principal, providing that they meet the eligiblity requirements set out in the Practising Certificate Training Record and have sufficient knowledge of your work to sign your PCTR forms.

Can I offer my services directly to the public without a practising certificate?

As an ACCA member, you may provide basic bookkeeping services which include: payroll; VAT; the recording of basic accounting data; and the preparation of accounting records to trial balance.

However, you are not permitted to undertake work that falls within ACCA's definition of public practice unless you hold an ACCA practising certificate or an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification. ACCA's definition of public practice includes:

  • accepting appointment as an auditor 
  • signing or producing any accounts, report, certificate or tax return that a 'third party' may place reliance on 
  • holding yourself out as being available to undertake these activities.

ACCA has produced a factsheet entitled 'Do I need a practising certificate?' which outlines the common areas where a practising certificate is required.

If I hold an ACCA practising certificate, can I transfer to an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification?

Yes, provided that you meet the eligibility requirements.

You will need to obtain the required level of audit work experience in an ACCA Approved Employer–PCD practice under the supervision of a Principal who is a fully-qualified statutory auditor.

You will also need to be an employee or a subcontractor.

Experience gained as a salaried or equity partner of a practising firm cannot count. (The concept of joint and several liability of partners prevents salaried or equity partners from being supervised in the same way as a normal employee, and does not allow the partners to confirm the work experience obtained.) Similarly, experience gained whilst being a director of a limited company cannot count towards the certificate.

Do I need to pass any specific exams to be eligible for a practising certificate and audit qualification?

Yes, you must pass the UK or Irish variants of papers F4 (Corporate and Business Law), F6 (Taxation), P2 (Corporate Reporting) and P7 (Advanced Audit and Assurance). If you were awarded exemptions from papers F4 and/or F6 on the basis of a degree/qualification which did not have sufficient coverage of UK or Irish tax and law you will need to pass the UK or Irish variants in order to be eligible for a practising certificate and audit qualification.

I have been awarded exemptions from all papers in the Fundamentals level of the syllabus. How does this affect my eligibility for a practising certificate and audit qualification?

Should you wish to apply for a practising certificate and audit qualification and you have been awarded exemptions from all papers in the Fundamentals level, you are required to complete the Professional level within five years.

Also, for a UK practising certificate and audit qualification, if you were awarded any exemptions on the basis of qualifications gained more than five years before registering as a student, and you registered as a student on or after 1 January 2010, you will need to forfeit your exemptions and complete those exams to gain this certificate. This rule does not apply to Ireland.

Last updated: 24 Sep 2014