MBA vs. CA – which is the right choice?

MBA vs CA

Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of multi billion Aditya Birla Group famously said

CAs today face top challenges from MBAs who are good at communication skills, know finance and economy better.

And, it holds true in real if you see the corporate world today.

MBA is something which has caught attention of all in recent years if not decade while CA is an old profession like medicine, which we have been doing since years. But, MBA vs. CA is a question which worries almost all business graduates of India. Many assume both are similar job and anyone of them will lead to the same success, but there is nothing true in this statement. Both requires number crunching and are related to business decisions directly, though the process is entirely different.

Here, in this article, we would help you to understand the difference and which one is right for you.

The decision of choosing one depends upon your interest, where you want to see yourself in next 5-10 years. CFO or CEO? A specialist or Generalist Expert of Business?

How good you are with numbers? Excellent or Good? A Charted Accountancy can be good for B.Com (Honours) but will definitely not suit students with other academic background like engineer as it really requires core of commerce, accountancy and finances.

Let us figure out what the two courses are:

Charted Accountancy

A Charted Accountancy is a professional course administered in India by ICAI (Institute of Charted Accountants of India), a body set up by Parliament. One can enroll for this course right after 10+2 and appear for exams level wise. Please note that CA is not a regular course which requires going to any institute daily and attend classes, though coaching classes may be required to prepare for exams of higher level. After passing exams at all level and getting proper articleship, you will become a Charted Accountant and work independently or with some firm as CA.

Master of Business Administration: This is a professional as well as regular course, which requires you to gain knowledge of business, economy, finances, general business management, strategies and domain you want to specialize. It is generally a 2 years residential course at your b school and requires full dedication. You will become a manager after completing the course and will be involved in business decision making roles like Business Analyst, Equity Analyst, Operations Manager etc. Most importantly, an MBA is a much broader course than CA.

Differences between the two courses can be understood by following aspects:-

Knowledge

A Charted Accountancy requires deep knowledge of finance, taxation and accountancy and deals everything with numbers. A good understanding of accounting standards and related laws including corporate tax is necessary too. They are responsible for preparation of Financial Report and Annual Reports and ensure financial health of company.

MBA, on other hand requires much broader knowledge of economy, international trade, business strategy & planning, general management and are you want to specialize into. It aims to make you a manager who can take business decisions to manage resources they are allocated- Marketing, HR, Finance, Operations etc.

Eligibility

A person can enroll for CA after 10+2 and continue by taking exams at different levels, according to his pace and time. After passing all exams he is require to go for articleship under Charted Accountant for almost a year and then his course is treated by ICAI as completed and he is given the title of CA.

For MBA, the person is required to be a graduate and appear for Management Entrance Tests like CAT, XAT, MAT, CMAT etc, score good percentile and apply for college which he intends to take admission.

Minimum percentage required for both the cases is 50% in 10+2 and graduation respectively.

Duration

A CA has no fixed duration and can take 5-8 years to complete, depending on one’s success rate in each level of exam. It requires lot of patience and perseverance as pass ratio keeps decreasing as one goes to higher level of exam. It makes CA one of the most competitive exams in India.

On the other hand, an MBA is a standard 2 years residential course. It may be one year if one opts for Executive MBA or MBA from ISB, Hyderabad.

Reputation

Both enjoy almost equal reputation in corporate world and it really depends on personality, knowledge and contribution of the person for the company which determines the reputation or importance. Though, MBA is gaining more and more importance because of their business acumen and problem solving skills. Charted Accountants have traditionally auditors of companies, which makes them powerful and most respected people in any company.

Cost

This aspect has sharp contrast in both the courses. MBA in India can cost you about Rs. 14 lakhs on average and within range of Rs. 8-20 lakhs depending on college and city location of college. A foreign MBA may cost more than Rs. 50 lakhs.

Charted Accountancy should cost around Rs. 30,000 for entire fee paid to ICAI. Even, if you consider the expenses incurred in preparation like coaching institutions, one would not bear more than 2 lakhs for CA course, which makes it attractive for financially not so strong students.

Job and Salary

CA and MBA both are paid handsomely. Starting salary of both are competitive and comparable to each other. (Read more about MBA salary http://www.payscale.com/research/IN/Degree=Master_of_Business_Administration_(MBA)/Salary#by_Years_Experience and CA salary http://www.payscale.com/research/IN/Job=Chartered_Accountant/Salary)

We can conclude both the courses can fetch a starting salary on an average of Rs.6- 7 Lakhs, assuming the fact that one has passed out from TOP 50 B schools of India. Though, it is a matter of fact that CA is a highly specialized job and growth in CA is relatively slower than MBA, which is considered more flexible and offers more opportunities based on one’s performance.

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