7 Essentials for SAICA Trainees Going Abroad

Picture yourself not buried under a mountain of spreadsheets in Sandton, but rather crunching numbers while gazing out at the vibrant streets of Manhattan. Or perhaps you find yourself auditing luxurious hotels in Dubai, with the majestic Burj Khalifa dominating the skyline outside your office window. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, SAICA trainees, in particular, are uniquely positioned to explore global opportunities due to their recognised qualifications. However, before embarking on this exciting journey, preparing and understanding what working overseas entails is important. In this article, we delve into seven key considerations for SAICA trainees preparing for a global career.

1. Define Your Goals:

Before taking the leap, it’s essential to identify what you hope to achieve by working overseas. Understanding your main drivers and personal and professional goals will help you choose the right location, firm, and opportunity that aligns with your aspirations.

  • Short-term exposure: secondment to gain international exposure, temporary work for financial gain or travelling opportunity.
  • Long-term career advancement: Relocation for long-term career advancement.

2. Consider Which Country Aligns With Your Career and Personal Goals:

When choosing a country for your global career, the options are plentiful. As a SAICA trainee, you have access to numerous countries around the world that recognize the CA(SA) qualification. Consider factors such as proximity to home, community support (read our article on Top 10 Destinations for CA(SA)), currency strength, standard of living, career advancement prospects, and the possibility of dual citizenship when making your decision.

3. Choose The Right Firm for Your Global Career:

The firm you choose to work for overseas will significantly impact your career trajectory. Before making a decision, take the time to assess your personality and determine which type of firm aligns with your goals and values.

  • Big 4: Fast-paced, global reach and a renowned brand
  • Mid-tier firms (Grant Thornton, BDO): Agile and personalized culture

Keep in mind that switching between different firm sizes or cultures can have long-term implications, so do your research.

4. Start Applying Early:

When pursuing a global career, timing is crucial. Most intakes for overseas positions occur in January or February, which coincides with busy seasons in many countries. If you plan to go abroad in February 2025, for example, you should aim to secure an offer by November at the latest. Keep in mind that the interview process can take anywhere from two weeks to two months. Starting your applications as early as September will ensure you are in the running alongside other candidates.

5. Prepare Like a Pro:

Proper preparation is paramount to interviewing success. Too often, candidates are ill-prepared for interviews, resulting in missed opportunities. Understand the interview process and allocate sufficient time to be ready for any possible situation that may arise.

  • Tailor your CV: Remove local jargon, quantify achievements, and highlight relevant international experience.
  • Practice soft skills: Communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
  • Research: Interviewers, the firm, and the role itself.

6. Be Open to Disappointment:

In a competitive global market, setbacks are inevitable. Embrace the possibility of disappointment and remain open to alternative avenues for gaining international experience. Consider smaller firms or niche industries as viable options for international exposure.

7. Get Your Home Affairs in Order:

Before embarking on your global career, it is essential to get your affairs in order. Familiarise yourself with the relocation process and benefits provided by your new employer. Determine what you will need to handle yourself, such as accommodation, tax processes, selling or storing your belongings, and any other logistical considerations. Being well-prepared will help you settle into your new environment with ease.


So, dear SAICA trainee, the world beckons with opportunities. Dive in with an informed mind, an open heart, and a thirst for adventure. Your expertise, the global demand for your skills, and this handy guide are your compass. Embrace the opportunities that lie ahead, and may your global career be filled with growth, fulfilment, and extraordinary experiences.

Are you a SAICA trainee dreaming of a global career? Start preparing now by visiting our career page for available opportunities in the Netherlands.

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