Can a Bookkeeper become an Accountant?

Can a Bookkeeper become and Accountant?


The Accounting profession and options for part qualified and ICB students wanting to become an Accountant

Dream of becoming an Accountant? See how you can become an Accountant when starting as a Junior Bookkeeper or Accounts Clerk even without a matric with the help of the ICB.

The Accounting Profession

The Accounting profession in South Africa is made up of several recognized professional bodies, all of which have varying degrees of entry requirements.  Some of these bodies administer their own examinations against registered qualifications, whilst others rely on qualifications that have been registered on the South African National Qualifications Framework.

The below diagram is an illustration depicting the accounting profession and the role that each perform within the sector:

Junior Bookkeeper

A Junior Bookkeeper assists the Bookkeeper in handling changes to accounting books and balances accounts. Maintain bookkeeping records, copying, and filing information as required. Produce client billing statements and invoices. Ensure bills and invoices are paid on time.

Senior Bookkeeper

In addition to recording daily transactions, senior bookkeepers also do monthly and annual bookkeeping, as well as analysis of financial statements and recording of disposal of assets.

Accounting Technician

Accounting technicians deal with financial transactions. Their work involves updating records with payments received and expenses and balancing those accounts.

General Accountant

The General Accountant summarises current financial status by collecting information, preparing balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and other reports. Substantiates financial transactions by auditing documents. Maintains financial security by following internal controls.

Chartered Accountant

The Chartered Accountant is responsible for implementing accounting systems and processes, preparing monthly financial reports, controlling the master data of the general ledger, and ensuring compliance with the state revenue service.


Auditors are specialists who review the accounts of companies and organisations to ensure the validity and legality of their financial records. They can also act in an advisory role to recommend possible risk aversion measures and cost savings that could be made when preparing reports, commentaries, and financial statements.

Professional Bodies within the sector

As mentioned earlier, there are several recognized professional bodies that operate within the accounting sector.  Each of these professional bodies have their own unique entry requirements, which are under pinned by an academic qualification as well as relevant practical work experience.  It is recommended that each professional body is contacted to enquire as to their entry requirements.  These are listed below.

Accounting Technician South Africa (ATSA)

AT(SA) provides opportunities for students to access a career in accounting.  They offer qualifications and membership at all levels, from administrative to professional accounting and finance position.  Through them, a student can advance their career and be recognized at any stage of their working life. (

South African Institute of Business Accountants (SAIBA)

At SAIBA we develop people to become successful accounting professionals by awarding designations of the highest quality that give them relevance and credibility within the finance department or in practice. (

Institute of Accounting and Commerce (IAC)

In 2009 the Institute changed to become a professional accounting membership body only and is registered in South Africa as a non-profit company.  In terms of section 60 of the close corporations act 69 of 1984, the IAC registers Accounting Officers, and since 2013 is also a Recognised Controlling Body with SARS for Tax Practitioners (in terms of section 240 of the tax administration act 28 of 2011).  (

South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA)

SAIPA represents qualified Professional Accountants in practice, commerce and industry, academia, and the public sector. (

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

ACCA is the world’s most forward-thinking professional accountancy body.  They believe that accountancy is vital for economies to grow and prosper, which is why they work all over the world to build the profession and make society fairer and more transparent.

ACCA is amongst the world’s best-qualified and most highly sought-after accountants – and they work in every sector you can imagine to create the innovative, strategic-thinking accountants our fast-changing world needs. (

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), founded in 1919, is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants. CIMA helps individuals and businesses to succeed by harnessing the full power of management accounting – not just accounting for the balance sheet, but accounting for business.

Together with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), we established the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation in 2012 to provide members with a new level of resources and recognition.

In 2017, members of CIMA and AICPA formed the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants to unite and strengthen the accounting profession globally. Representing an influential network of more than 667,000 members and students in management and public accounting, the Association prepares accountants for today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. (

South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is the foremost accountancy body in South Africa and one of the leading Institutes in the world. (

Options for being part-qualified when wanting to become an Accountant

Part qualified is a term used when a student has only achieved part of a registered qualification and has not completed the qualification for what-ever reason.  However, there are a host of options available for students to further/complete these studies.  It is always recommended that should a student want to continue with their studies, is for the student to ensure that the institution that they choose is credible, registered, accredited and that the qualifications offered are in fact registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is the system that records the credits assigned to each level of learning achievement in a formal way to ensure that the skills and knowledge that have been learnt are recognised throughout the country.

Further study options

Learners who have not yet completed their qualifications, should apply to their institution of choice and to request credits for subjects/modules already achieved.  The ICB has robust recognition of prior learning options which grants credits for subjects previously attained and allows the learner to continue to complete the remaining subjects that are encompassed within the qualifications under the auspices of the ICB.

Their are various options available, these being to continue through a public higher education institution (University or a University of Technology), through a number of private higher education institutions, for example those listed below, through an on-line international institution to obtain an internationally recognised degree, or to apply to the ICB for recognition of prior learning.

The ICB qualification via RPL

To be considered for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and get credit towards an ICB qualification (note: this is not guaranteed) to become an Accountant, your previous qualifications or part-qualifications must be registered on the NQF and should have been attained within the last five years. If your NQF-registered qualifications are more than five years old, you will also need to provide proof of more recent, relevant work experience.

Re-enrolling at a Public Higher Education Institution

The two options here are to re-enrol at the same institution where the student was previously studying and to “pick-up” from where they left off.  Secondly, is to apply to a new institution and request credits/exemptions for modules already passed.  In the second scenario, an institution is allowed to grant up to 50% credits only, so there is a likelihood that not all passed subjects will be exempted.

Enrolling with a Private Higher Education Institution

There are a number of private institutions that are registered with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology, to offer accredited higher education qualifications, many of which are recognised by the professional bodies listed earlier in this document.

Online international qualifications

There are a number of international universities that offer on-line degree programmes.  Most of these offer Accounting programmes, but be cautious of content as this may be local to the area of the university, especially when there is law and taxation included in the syllabus.

Types of programme delivery

There are a number of learning options available and these are briefly discussed below.

Face-to-face delivery

Face-to-Face Instruction. The traditional classroom or face-to-face instruction is when the instructor and the students of an educational institution are in a place devoted to instruction and the teaching and learning take place at the same time.


Distance learning is a method of studying in which lectures are broadcast or lessons are conducted by correspondence, without the student needing to attend a school or college.


Online learning is education that takes place over the Internet. It is often referred to as “e- learning” among other terms. However, online learning is just one type of “distance learning” – the umbrella term for any learning that takes place across distance and not in a traditional classroom.


Blended learning is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or pace.

Where to after ICB

When you have completed and have been awarded your qualifications by the ICB, there are two options available, either join a professional body or further your studies towards a degree in accounting.

No matric? With the ICB you can get an NQF qualification

No matric? You can get an NQF Registered qualification with which is internationally recognised with the ICB

Professional membership options

The ICB has entered into agreements with two South African-based recognised professional bodies, namely the Southern African Institute of Business Accountants ( and the South African Institute of Taxation (  Learners who want to join these professional bodies will need to submit an application to them together with a copy of the academic transcripts and each applicant will be reviewed individually and will need to demonstrate the relevant work experience required from each organisation.

Furthermore, learners from the ICB may apply for membership of the International Association of Bookkeepers ( or the International Association of Accounting Professional ( both of which are based in the United Kingdom.

Further study options


ACCA is the world’s leading professional body for accountants, with over 110 years of  experience, innovation and excellence.  ICB graduates holding the National Diploma: Financial Accounting NQF 6 qualifications can study further through ACCA.  You will receive up to 5 exemptions to further your studies towards becoming a Chartered Certified Accountant with ACCA.


ICB students can study further and obtain a Boston: Bachelor of Accounting degree. To apply for admission to the Boston Bachelor of Accounting Degree you will need a National Diploma Financial Accounting.  Or, ICB students can now study further and obtain a Boston: Diploma in Financial Accounting.  To apply for admission to the Boston Diploma in Financial Accounting you will need either the National Diploma Technical Financial Accounting or National Diploma Financial Accounting (NDFA), NQF Level 6.


CIMA offers training and qualifications in management accounting. ICB graduates holding the National Diploma: Financial Accounting NQF6 qualifications can apply to CIMA for up to 6 exemptions.


After successfully completing ICB National Diploma Financial Accounting (NDFA), NQF Level 6, you can apply for admission to one of the following degrees at Damelin:

  • BCom: Accounting NQF 7
  • BCom: Marketing and Business Management NQF 7
  • BCom: Business Management NQF 7


If you have a National Diploma Financial Accounting NQF6 qualification from ICB, you may apply for entry into the below registered qualifications at Milpark.

  • Bachelor of Commerce (General)
  • Bachelor of Commerce (Tax)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (Human Resource Management)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (Marketing Management)

Various ways to become an Accountant

As can be seen from this article, there are a number of options to consider after you have completed your ICB studies or if you have partly completed your qualifications at other recognised training institutions.

Interested? Then start here.