Here's how you become a Company Secretary

Here's how you become a Company Secretary


GREAT DEMAND With the growth in industry and commerce, the demand for Company Secretaries in India is growing.

If you want to be a Company Secretary, you have to pass the Company Secretary Examination conducted by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI). But before you appear for the examination you have to complete the 3 stages of the Company Secretaryship course.

A candidate who wants to pursue the Company Secretaryship course under the new scheme of examination has to complete the following three stages:

*Foundation Programme  
* Executive Programme
* Professional Programme

After qualifying for the professional examination and on successful completion of training, a candidate can be an Associate Member of the ICSI and can use the letters ACS after his/her name i.e. Associate Company Secretary. After fulfilling the prescribed criteria, a Company Secretary with ACS can become a fellow member of the ICSI and can use FCS after his/her name to indicate he/she is a fellow member of the Institute of Company Secretary. After obtaining a ‘Certificate of Practice’ from the Institute, a member of the Institute can go in for independent practice.


Training is compulsory for all candidates. However, the structure has been changed with effect from November 1, 2009 and is as follows: The candidate has to complete the seven-day Induction Programme (IP) within 6 months of registration to the executive programme. After passing the executive programme, one has to attend the Executive Development Programme (EDP) of eight days’ duration. After that, one has to attend the practical training for a period of 15 months in a company approved by the Institute. During this period he has to complete 25 hours of Professional Development Programme (PDP).

Foundation Programme: It is the entry-level examination for the Company Secretaryship course. The minimum qualification required to join the programme is a pass in the 10+2 examination or its equivalent in any stream i.e., Arts, Science and Commerce. Provisional admission is allowed to a candidate who has appeared or enrolled to appear in the Senior Secondary (10+2 or equivalent) examination.

Registration: Registration is open throughout the year. However, the cutoff date for admission for the Foundation Programme is March 31 in order to appear for the December examination and September 30 for the June examination next year. The duration of the course is 8 months. The registered candidate can complete the course within 3 years of registration. Candidates who have enrolled for the CS course on November 1, 2007 or after, have to study the subjects under a new syllabus. The first Foundation Programme examination under the new scheme was held in December 2008. ICSI has 67 examination centres located in various cities spread all over India and one overseas centre in Dubai.

Coaching: The course is through correspondence, but the Institute imparts oral coaching through its regional councils/ chapters / collaborative oral tuition centres. The Institute supplies study material to the candidates after admissions.

Fee: The fee structure for the Foundation Programme is as follows — Admission Rs. 1200; Postal tuition fee Rs. 2400; Examination fee Rs. 875.

Subjects: The Foundation course consists of  4 papers, viz. English and Business Communication; Economics and Statistics; Financial Accounting; Elements of Business Law and Management. Each paper is of 3 hours’ duration and carries 100 marks.
Qualifying marks: To qualify one must gain a minimum of 40% in each paper and an aggregate of 50% for all papers put together.

Exemption: Candidates who have completed their degree or Masters’ degree in Commerce or a pass in the final examination of Cost and Works Accountants are exempted from the Foundation Programme.  Candidates who have passed the papers under the old syllabus are exempted from appearing for the new course.

Executive Programme:  Candidates who have registered on February 1, 2008 or after for the Executive Programme are required to study and pass examinations under the new syllabus. The eligibility for the Executive Programme is a pass in the Foundation Programme or a degree in commerce/equivalent examinations.

The course consists of two modules with three papers each:

*Module-I: General and Commercial Laws; Company Accounts and Management Accounting and Tax laws. nModule-II; Company Law; Economic and Labour Laws and Securities Laws and Compliances. The qualifying marks are 40% in each paper and an average of 50% average for all papers together. The tuition fee for the course is Rs. 7000 for the commerce stream and Rs. 7,500 for the non-commerce stream.

Professional Programme: Those who have passed the Executive Programme can enroll for the Professional Programme. The new syllabus of the Executive Programme was first held in June 2009. It comprises of four modules with two papers each. The fee for postal coaching is Rs. 7,500.

A qualified Company Secretary either works in a big organisation as an employee (Company Secretary) or becomes an independent practicing Company Secretary. In India, a company having a paid-up share capital of Rs. 2 crore or more is required to appoint a whole time Company Secretary (under Companies Act 1956).  Companies which are listed on recognised stock exchanges are required to file the annual returns signed by a practicing Company Secretary. Hence, he has a wide scope not only in India but also in other countries.

In order to attract the best talent, the ICSI provides financial assistance to students of the economically weaker sections who have a good academic record of a minimum of 60% marks in the examination.  The ICSI also provides physically handicapped students with a 25% concession on all fees.

The institute established a 24x7 e-learning portal and signed an MOU with APTECH computers for computer training.

In India there are 22,000 Company Secretaries (CS) who are either working as employees in an industrial organisation or practicing independently. In 2020, India will need at least 50,000 additional Company Secretaries as the industry and commerce is growing due to globalisation.