Certifications in Accounting

  • Certified Public Accountant
  • Certified Management Accountant
  • Certified Financial Analysis
  • Certified Internal Auditor
  • Enrolled Agent

There are several certifications accounting graduates can obtain to add some pop to their resumes. Accountants are not required to be certified, but many volunteer to become certified so they can specialize in specific areas of accounting and make themselves more valuable to potential employers. The more certifications an accountant can earn, the more credentials the accountant will be able to add to his or her title. Here are a few of the certifications accountants might consider pursuing.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

This is not only the oldest accounting credential but is also one of the most respected certifications in the accounting world. The CPA license is highly respected across the industry and is required for accountants who plan to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. After earning the required degree and credits, the candidate must take the 4-part Uniform CPA examination. CPAs are the only accountants who are state government-licensed, able to do audit reports and prepare findings on publicly traded company financials. It is also one of the hardest to obtain. The certification exam is the longest and has the most requirements that must be met in order for the applicant can take the exam.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Although many compare the CMA certification with the CPA certification, they are for two different occupations and jobs. While the CPA typically works as an accountant either independently or for an accounting firm, the CMA works as part of an accounting management company. The CMA is part of management and works in executive-level roles, but is not acceptable for public accounting. A candidate interested in working for a Fortune 500 company in a management position would find the CMA credential the ideal choice.

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Certified Financial Analysis (CFA)

Although the certified financial analysis certification is an accounting certification, it’s not necessarily just for accountants. The CFA credential is for accounting graduates who want to work in the world of investment and finance. Most CFAs work with investment or hedge funds. This credential is very popular in other parts of the world like China and Europe but is also widely used in the United States. CFAs analyze the financial status of a company and the economic trends and make recommendations to the company. Like the CPA certification, the CFA is also highly respected in the accounting world. The exam is also very lengthy and difficult and cannot be taken until several requirements have been met.

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

The certified internal auditor is an accounting certification for accountants who want to work as auditors and compliance officers. CIAs generally are employed for large organizations and spend most of their time either assisting independent auditors to do their jobs or performing audits on their own. The certification exam is a three-part exam that usually takes about 6.5 hours to complete.

Enrolled Agent (EA)

The Enrolled Agent credential was created by the Internal Revenue Service to demonstrate that the individual has a solid knowledge of the U.S. tax codes and has the skills to utilize all its parts. This EA is typically used to perform tax work at both corporations and individuals. They may also represent clients who have tax issues with the IRS. Accountants who want to work as CPAs, general accountants or in the world of finance should not consider the EA certification. An enrolled agent works strictly with taxes and the IRS. It’s definitely a tax certification. Of all the certifications in accounting, the enrolled agent is probably the easiest one to obtain. It has the least requirements that must be met to take the certification exam and also has the shortest exam.

Accountants have the potential to earn excellent wages once they’ve earned degrees and certifications. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that accountants earned wages ranging from $43,020 to $122,220 as of May 2017. Although different factors can affect earning potential, earning even one of the various certifications in accounting can really boost not just career opportunities but also wage potential.