Breaking into UAE Job Market as a Semi-Qualified Chartered Accountant: Everything you need to know

UAE job market for Semi-qualified Chartered Accountants

  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a plethora of job opportunities for Chartered Accountants (CAs).
  • But can semi-qualified CAs too find success in the UAE? 
  • The good news is that with article experience and the right skill sets, success is within reach.

What is the job market like for Semi-qualified Chartered Accountants in UAE?

Semi-qualified Chartered Accountants are highly valued in the UAE, just like qualified ones. In fact, the job market in the UAE may actually be better for the former. 

The UAE is home to a large number of Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Many of these companies prefer to hire semi-qualified CAs for various Finance roles. This is in contrast to larger corporations, which tend to choose qualified Chartered Accountants.

Most companies in Dubai value experience and seek out semi-qualified CAs who have completed their three-year articleship. They can provide valuable support to finance directors and other senior staff. 

So if you have good knowledge and can help the organization they would hire you. 

Working for smaller companies can offer a great experience and exposure to different aspects of the business.

Semi-qualified CAs can expect to earn a lower salary than qualified CAs, but there are still many opportunities available in the auditing, and accounting sectors, manufacturing companies, and service industries. 

Some firms may offer higher salaries than others, so it is important that you research and compare options before accepting a position.

What qualifications do companies in the UAE require for Finance roles?

The specific qualifications required for finance jobs in UAE companies may vary depending on the job position and the company's industry. 

If you have done your articleship from a Big 4 or mid-sized firm, then the chances of you getting hired are higher. But do not let the tag of a semi-qualified CA define your career path.  

The ideal thing for you would be to acquire an international qualification to give your resume a boost. 

Some common qualifications and skills that are often required for finance jobs in the UAE are:

  • Professional certifications like CPA, CFA, ACCA, and CA (CPA US would give you an edge over ACCA in terms of career growth, due to its greater global visibility and a big network.)
  • If you are planning to get into the taxation industry you could pursue ADIT (Advanced Diploma in International Taxation) 
  • International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) course
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of relevant financial laws and regulations
  • Proficiency in financial software and tools
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

You can consider giving the final CA exam from UAE, once you are done with your articleship. 

There are several CA exam centers scattered across the UAE and overseas chapters of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), i.e. ICAI Dubai Chapter, and ICAI Abu Dhabi Chapter. 

There is also a local qualification namely Emirates Certified Public Accountant (ECPA) that you can obtain. The ECPA is one of the most popular and useful certifications for accountants in the UAE. 

This Certified Public Accountant certification is licensed by the United Arab Emirates. 

Bharat Sharma is a partly-qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI, who found a finance job opportunity in Dubai. 

Before moving to Dubai, he was working as an Assistant Manager- Accounts and Finance, in a corporate organization in Mumbai.

To become a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI, India, one has to clear- 3 levels of exams (CPT, IPCC, CA Finals) plus 3 years of articleship. He had cleared the first two levels – CPT and IPCC, and completed 3 years of articleship. 

But even after multiple attempts, he kept failing the CA final exam by a few marks. That was when he decided to quit pursuing CA.

Luckily, he met a friend who was pursuing CPA (USA).

Considering that the CPA US is more of a global qualification, he decided to pursue a CPA from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). There are no centers in India to write the CPA exams, but some Middle Eastern countries have them.

Bharat came to UAE on a 3-month visa to give the exam and look for a job. After trying for a while he finally found a finance/ accounting job. 

Also Read

How this Semi-Qualified CA from India attracted UAE employers through a Video Resume

What are some in-demand roles for Semi-qualified CAs?

Various job roles are available for semi-qualified freshers in the finance industry, such as, 

  • Accountant
  • Accounts receivable/payable professional
  • Cost accountant
  • Finance controller

Growth prospects may be limited in Indian-led SMEs, auditing firms, or accounting firms. The salaries range from around AED 8k-10k there.

On the other hand, western-based companies, often offer immense growth opportunities.

It is worth noting that if you come to Dubai at an older age, potential employers may offer a lower salary initially. They require that the candidates obtain experience in the UAE market. 

However, once you establish yourself in the market, your qualifications may matter less as you grow professionally. 

What is the Basic Salary in Dubai for semi-qualified CAs?

The Finance Story decided to find out what a fresher/semi-qualified CA might get for Auditing / Tax / Finance roles. 

We asked various professionals in the UAE, who have been in the industry for almost a decade, to give us insights. 

CA Prashant Nathvani, who has over 10 years of experience in Banking and Finance, says: For a starting salary, a freshly qualified CA can expect AED 8k - 10k per month, whereas a semi-qualified CA might earn AED 7k-12k per month.

Kapil Jain, with over 7 years of experience in Accounting says: A fresher or semi-qualified CA in an Audit Firm may earn a starting salary of AED 4k-7K per month. On the other hand, in the industry, they would earn somewhere around AED 6k or 7k per month. 

He adds that the salary would undoubtedly depend on your experience, however, the industry would pay a bigger remuneration than audit firms. 

Another Finance Professional with 7 years of experience in Accounts and Finance, says: Semi-qualified CAs with experience and freshers can earn a starting salary of AED 8k per month.  

Saurabh Maheshwari, Senior Manager - Finance Operations at Cars24, says: AED 8k-10k per month as a starting salary is acceptable for a CA fresher in the UAE. 

An Accounts Manager with 16 years of experience mentioned that a CA fresher can expect AED 4k-5k per month as a starting salary.    

A Director of Finance, who has been in the industry for 12 years, says: Freshers should aim for AED 18k per month whereas semi-qualified CAs usually get a starting salary of AED 15k.

Joyson Dmello, with over 10 years of experience in Finance and Audit, says: Freshers can earn a starting salary of AED 12k - 15k per month.

CA Bharat Chandan, Senior Account Officer at Dubai Electricity and Water Authority with 10 years of experience says: Small Consulting firms pay between AED 5k to AED 7k to CA freshers, while corporates pay AED 6k to 12k per month. Considering the rising inflation in the UAE, they should ask for 2 - 3 times their Indian salaries.

  • Many companies provide accommodation and food. So it all depends on what you can bring to the table and how much value will you add to the company.
  • Once you have a min of 2 years of UAE experience and if you are good in Finance/ Accounting, your salary can almost double.

 If a Part (Semi) qualified Accountant has no plans of pursuing further education, they can still earn and do well in the UAE.

But, it’s important to remember that only if you are a fully Qualified Accountant, will you be more in demand and earn a higher salary.

Also Read

There is a huge need finance and accounting professionals in the UAE, with the advent of fintech, digital currency. Talent Acquisition Director in Dubai, UAE shares how to prepare the ideal CV.

When is the best time to come to the UAE for job hunting?

In the UAE, the summer months (June to August) including the month of Ramadan can be particularly hot and humid. This makes job hunting more challenging. 

Some job seekers may prefer to come during the cooler months (October to April).

If you are lucky it would only take you 4 weeks to get a job. The worst-case scenario would be 1 to 3 months. It takes time with the visa process which is quite slow.

Overall, it is recommended to research the job market and industry trends before planning a trip to the UAE for job hunting.

Save money for 3 month's stay: Living costs in UAE, especially in Dubai are expensive. And given you would search for a job most of the time, there would not be any kind of salary for quite some time.   

Carry at least AED 2,200 for a month. Book an Airbnb space to stay for a few days in Dubai.

Also Read

How this Semi-Qualified CA from India attracted UAE employers through a Video Resume

How to apply for a Finance job in the UAE?

Regardless of whether you are a fully qualified Chartered Accountant or a partially qualified one, the process of job-searching remains the same.

And the best way to find a job is by advertising yourself in every possible manner.

Here are a few tips:

1. Personal Interaction

  • Personal interaction will play a very important role in finding a job in the UAE.
  • If you are attending any interview interact with other candidates. They might help you get more information about current openings.
  • Networking and building connections are necessary.
  • Drop off your CV at various companies, personally by going down to their offices.

2. LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn is one of the best sources to find a job in the UAE. 
  • Add people that are in your field, and HRs who are hiring in the finance domain. 
  • Send a message to the recruiter and politely ask for an interview.  

3. Job Portals

  • In the UAE there are many job portals like Bayt, Gulf Salary, and Indeed.  
  • Some websites also provide a Premium option where they will share your CVs directly with companies if there is a vacancy. 

4. Have a well-formatted CV

  • Prepare your CV in good Format. Many templates are available on Google.
  • Do not put anything on the CV that you do not know, because the interviewer mainly starts questioning you on the basis of what is mentioned on your CV.

5. Make a video resume

  • A video resume allows you to talk directly to a potential employer about why you are uniquely qualified for the position.
  • It can be a significant addition to your traditional CV.
  • Sumair Khan did exactly the same. He is a Semi-Qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI. 
  • He put together a video resume, explaining all his experience and skill sets in a form that grabs the attention of the people more effectively.  
  • The people on LinkedIn were highly impressed and supportive. His video resume received a lot of traction. 

6. Documents to take with you before moving to Dubai

  • Before coming to Dubai or the UAE get all your documents attested. It is compulsory.
  • If you have not got them attested in your home country you can do the same in Dubai as well. It might just cost you a little more here (AED 500).

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