Section 3: Technical and professional competency areas and learning outcomes

In assessing a degree for professional accreditation, we expect to see opportunities for students to develop both technical and professional compentencies. This means a professionally-accredited degree program that produces graduates with a foundation of technical knowledge and the professional skills needed to effectively apply this when they enter the profession and further their development with CPA Australia.

Competency areas and learning outcomes

Below are the specific technical and professional competency areas that must be covered in an accounting degree program seeking our accreditation.

We'll accept accreditation submissions for programs that don’t include the competency area of auditing and assurance. However, students must still be able to study subjects in this area through their institution. This competency area may be completed as part of CPA Program studies.

This isn't a list of prescribed subjects. In some cases, like financial accounting, one competency area will extend over more than one subject. Also, coverage of a competency area may be integrated with other areas in one or more subjects.


At CPA Australia, we require the following competency areas to be covered.

Technical competency area  Required?
TCA01 Accounting systems and processes Yes
TCA02 Financial accounting and reporting Yes
TCA03 Audit and assurance No
TCA04 Business law Yes
TCA05 Economics Yes
TCA06 Finance and financial management Yes
TCA07 Management accounting Yes
TCA08 Quantitative methods Yes
TCA09 Taxation Yes
TCA10 Information and communications technology Yes
TCA11 Business acumen Yes
Professional competency area  
PCA01 Intellectual skills Yes
PCA02 Interpersonal and communication skills  Yes
PCA03 Personal skills Yes
PCA04 Ethical principles, professional values and integrity Yes


A broad definition of each technical and professional competency area is provided below. Where applicable, Appendix 2: Technical competency areas and learning outcomes (detailed) and Appendix 3: Professional competency areas and learning outcomes (detailed) provide detailed learning outcomes and content guidance schedules for competency areas. These set out specific prerequisite competencies that graduates entering the CPA Program will be assumed to have acquired. While they’re intended to only be indicative and not tightly prescriptive of program content, we’ll use them in our review of accounting programs for professional accreditation and membership assessments.

Technical competency areas

TCA01 Accounting systems and processes

Covers the form and function of financial statements and how financial transactions are recorded.

TCA02 Financial accounting and reporting

Covers the theoretical principles underlying accounting practice and their application to the preparation and analysis of financial statements. It also covers current developments in financial reporting at a national and international level.

TCA03 Audit and assurance

Covers the nature and purpose of audit and assurance and the regulatory and professional environment in which it operates. The area includes an understanding of the role of auditing standards, and their application to the audit process.

TCA04 Business law

Covers general legal knowledge relating to the business environment, and an understanding of the responsibilities and risks. It also covers data protection and privacy regulations that apply when collecting, generating, storing, accessing, using or sharing data and information.

TCA05 Economics

Covers the fundamental concepts of microeconomics and macroeconomics and the role of individuals and businesses in different types of market structures. It evaluates the response of business activity to changes in macro-economic indicators, as well as the impact of regulatory and political environments on business.

TCA06 Finance and financial management

Covers the fundamental concepts, application and questions of of business finance and treasury.

TCA07 Management accounting

Covers an understanding of budgeting, product and service costing, control and performance evaluation, and strategic management accounting.

TCA08 Quantitative methods

Covers the basic collection, analysis and interpretation of business data.

TCA09 Taxation 

Covers the fundamentals of the taxation system and its administration.

TCA10 Information and communications technology (ICT)

Covers the fundamentals of how ICT impacts an organisation’s environment and business model, and how we can analyse data and information to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of a business’s operating systems and processes, and communications channels. ICT includes accounting information systems and their application to solve business problems. These are important elements in the initial development of accounting and business professionals.

TCA11 Business acumen

Covers the local and global organisational environment a business operates in and the features relating to business strategy and management. The basic principles of governance, risk management and internal controls gives deeper understanding of business practices.

Professional competency areas

PCA01 Intellectual skills

Intellectual skills help a professional accountant evaluate data and information, apply critical thinking to solve problems, make decisions and exercise good judgment in complex organisational situations.

PCA02 Interpersonal and communication skills

Interpersonal and communication skills help a professional accountant work with others for the common good of the organisation, receive and transmit information, form reasoned judgments and make effective decisions.

PCA03 Personal skills

Personal skills relate to the attitudes and behaviour of professional accountants. Developing these skills helps individual learning and personal improvement.

PCA04 Ethical principles, professional values and integrity

An understanding of ethical and professional values and attitudes is important to accounting professionals’ development. It’s expected that higher education providers’ programs will pay attention to the fundamental ethical values of integrity, objectivity and confidentiality, as well as professional competence and due care.