What are the career options for CA failed students?

Every year almost 400,000 students take up the path of chartered accountancy and work hard to achieve it.

However, only a small percentage of them, (about 5-8%) are able to actually clear it in their first attempt. There is also a significant portion of students who aren’t able to even clear the CA Foundation or CA IPCC.

When the percentage of students who actually become CA is on the lower side, it seems curious why various resources only talk about career options after CA. And not about the alternative to Chartered Accountant, for students who couldn’t complete the course.

In this article, we explore what are the possible career options for CA failed students. And we try to answer some burning questions such as, “If not CA then what?”, or, “what are the alternative jobs for chartered accountants”, “what are possibly the best career options for CA dropouts”

Before we jump onto the information resource, let me state something first.

Even if by some chance, you are not able to clear the CA course on the first attempt, or multiple attempts, it will not be the end of the world.

Becoming a Chartered Accountant is a prestigious honor, however, it is not the only career option available in the finance domain.

Failure is a part of the journey. In fact, we would like you to read some inspirational stories in our segment, “emerging from failure”

It contains stories of students who initially failed in their journey but still managed to come out on the top through their sheer hard work and willpower.

Anyhow, moving on to the matter at hand.

What if I fail in the CA foundation?

Although there is no set number of attempts for the CA foundation exams, however, if you keep failing the CA foundation and feel the need to get out of the CA course, then you have a plethora of exit options to choose from.

Up above in the article, I have already listed the possible career options for CA failed students to pursue forward in their careers, however, only consider it as the last option when you are absolutely sure that you want to drop your CA dream.

First of all, if you have failed the CA foundation exams, even then your registration for the course will be valid for 3 years,i.e, 6 attempts.

And even if you fail after that, you can revalidate your registration for another 3 years by depositing a fee of ₹300.

But if you want to completely back out from the CA course, then it will be wise to focus on other courses, or professions early on.


If you are determined to stay in the financial and commerce domain, and you have officially decided to drop the CA course, then worry not.

There are plenty of other opportunities in the domain.

Career options for CA dropouts

There is a wide array of career options for CA dropouts, or CA failed students. It’s quite similar to the popular saying, “when one door closes, another one opens”.

In this case, however, there are already multiple doors open for you when you have decided to opt for a career in finance. 

And there are some career paths in which your existing CA preparation knowledge will help you get an edge over other competitors.

Here are some of the career paths you can follow as an alternative to chartered accountancy:

Chief Financial Analyst:

The CFA certification is a globally recognized finance accreditation that can help you build a strong career in the finance and investment fields.

This is a coveted certification because of its significance in the investing domain, and the highly-paid aspect of the career paths you can get after this certification.

This is one of the best possible career options for CA failed students or CA dropouts.

An average CFA after considerable work experience can easily earn up to 60-70 LPA and even more.

Although it’s a time and mental resource-consuming certification(candidates have to pass through 3 levels of examinations spanning through 4-5 years), it’s also a very good investment considering the value it can add to your CV.

Some of the job profiles you can pursue after obtaining your CFA charter are as follows:

  • Research Analyst
  • Corporate Financial Analyst
  • Accountant or Auditor
  • Consultant
  • Risk Analyst/Manager
  • Relationship Manager/Account Manager
  • Credit Analyst
  • Portfolio Manager

For more information on the CFA charter and its benefits, read here.

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA): 

Quite similar to CA, the ACCA certification is in some ways better than the CA certification because it is internationally relevant and allows you to provide financial advice to your firm. 

ACCA is recognized by more than 150 countries worldwide and has a member base of more than 4,00,000. 

If you are a CA dropout, then ACCA is a good alternative to Chartered Accountancy for you as the subjects are very similar.

An ACCA professional doesn’t have the authority to perform auditing in India, and hence cannot sign an audit report(only a CA can do that) However, an ACCA does have the ability to perform auditing responsibilities in other countries such as the UK.

With an ACCA certification, you can secure jobs in top MNCs including the big4s. Companies like Tata, Barclays, Grant Thornton, etc are also actively recruiting ACCA.

Some of the job profiles that you can bag after your ACCA(depending on your skills and work experience) are:

  • Investment Advisory
  • Risk Advisory
  • Audit and Assurance
  • Accounting Advisory
  • Internal Audit
  • Taxation
  • Corporate Finance etc

Company Secretary(CS): 

A CS of a company handles almost all of the companies’ legal proceedings. The CS course is comparatively easier than the CA, but it has its own value and worth. 

Furthermore, a CS has the authority of performing a secretarial audit in an organization.

The CS rules and regulations are enforced and maintained by ICSI (Institute of Company Secretaries of India). The institute is also in charge of training future CS.

The major responsibility of a Company Secretary is to ensure that the company abides by the legal and statutory regulations. The CS is also a very important advisor and member of a company’s board.

Following are some of the job profiles a Company Secretary can pursue after their certification.

  • Assistance to the Board of Directors
  • Company Registrar
  • Legal Advisor
  • Corporate Policymaker
  • Chief Administrative Officer
  • Principal Secretary
  • Corporate Planner
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Administrative Secretary

Companies like PNB, IRFC Ltd, Monolith Industries Ltd, etc. are actively hiring Company secretaries in various domains.

The average salary of a CS in India is around 7-8 LPA. (estimates taken from payscale)

Cost Management Accountant (CMA): 

Cost Accounting Management is a certificate program designed to train students for working in different industries and corporate functions. In India, the credentials of the CMA course are issued by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI)

The course is best for CA dropouts as it is easier to obtain than CA certification and can be completed in under 2 years.

In fact, a student can easily start the CMA course after completing their 12th in commerce. Or if a student has done their 12th with Science, then they can first complete their bachelors in commerce background, and then appear for the CMA exam.

A CMA is generally responsible for tracking financial statements, analyzing results, preparing roots, and developing strategies to improvise company productivity.

In this respect, CMAs also often work as risk managers for their companies.

CMAs can apply for any of the following job profiles after their certification:

  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Risk Manager
  • Finance Manager
  • Financial Controller
  • Cost Accountant
  • Cost Manager
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Relationship Manager

The average salary of a CMA professional in any job profile can easily reach 7-8 LPA and beyond.

Furthermore, a CMA is a flexible professional and can work in non-financial work profiles, and in all sizes of companies. They can also work in government bodies.

Certified Public Accountant:

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) defines a CPA as a trusted financial advisor who helps individuals, businesses, and other organizations plan and reach their financial goals. 

The CPA is a highly regarded course and can be used to unlock many high potential career options in the accounting field.

The eligibility of CPA varies according to your respective state board of accountancy.

CPAs are primarily involved in auditing and attesting procedures. They are expected to have a sound grasp of accounting principles, business and financial concepts, tax, law, etc.

CPAs are often hired by consulting and auditing firms.

Here are some potential job profiles that CPAs can crack after their certifications:

  • Risk and Compliance Professional
  • Senior Financial Analyst
  • Accounting Software Developer
  • Corporate Controller
  • Personal Financial Advisor
  • Information technology Accountant
  • Finance Director

The test to clear the CPA certification is a 16 hour long, four-part assessment test. Furthermore, the course syllabus and the main exam must be completed within 18 months.

The average salary of a CPA professional is 7-8 LPA and beyond.

(Master of Business Administration) MBA in Finance:

The MBA is an extremely popular career choice for students. An MBA in finance is the most popular for students with a commerce background.

An MBA in finance can open up various career options for CA dropouts.

If you have officially given up on the CA dream, then an MBA in finance can unlock a variety of career opportunities for you.

In fact, many business schools often offer deeper specializations in core finance fields such as CPA, CFA, CMA, etc.

An MBA in finance can train you in skills such as financial modeling, macroeconomics, entrepreneurship(Yes! Some MBA colleges execute entrepreneurship projects for their students), number crunching, etc.

Some of the top job profiles that you can crack directly after completing your MBA in finance are:

  • Financial Advisor
  • Financial Manager
  • Financial Analyst
  • Budget Analyst
  • Financial Services Sales Agent
  • Investment Bankers
  • Cash Managers
  • Manager Consultants
  • Chief Finance Officers
  • Corporate Controllers
  • Accounting Manager 

The best thing about an MBA in finance is that companies are almost always actively hiring for MBA talent in the finance domain, as an MBA usually imbues students with excellent time and work management capabilities.

Some of the top companies like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, BCG, Bain & Company,

JP Morgan Chase & Co, etc. are all actively hiring for MBA in finance individuals.

Also read, what are the highest paying jobs after MBA.


There is a saying that I will be paraphrasing to emphasize my point, “some career dreams are like sand in your fist, you can hold on to them as tightly as possible, but it will just slip away faster and faster.”

The same goes for your CA dream. If your instincts tell you to hold on to your CA prep, then absolutely do that. But if your instincts tell you otherwise, then as I have painstakingly described above, there are literally hundreds more career opportunities waiting for you.

Sometimes, it’s easier to make the switch.

All the best!

Thanks for Reading!


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