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Top Accounting Certifications

One of the most exciting things about accounting is that you can work as a generalist, or continue your education after your undergraduate studies. For many accountants, pursuit of a certification is part of their career advancement plan. Certification enables you to get additional education in a specific aspect of the field. In recent years, more and more employers are looking for professionals with additional certifications.

In the world of accounting, the following are the four most currently sought after certifications:

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

  • Where: CPA’s work in a variety of roles from auditing and advising, to financial planning.
  • Recognition: The CPA is the most recognized accounting certification in the U.S.
  • Competencies: CPA’s are skilled in auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting, and reporting and regulation.
  • Administrator: The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) oversees the CPA exam.
  • Requirements: The education and experience needed to sit for the exam depends on state law.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

  • Where: CMAs usually work for organizations or corporations as part of their management teams.
  • Recognition: The Certified Management Accountant is globally recognized.
  • Competencies: CMA’s have deep knowledge of financial planning, analysis, control, decision support, and professional ethics.
  • Administrator: The CMA certification is overseen by the IMA.
  • Requirements: Bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and two years of experience in management accounting or financial management. The requirements and exam are universal.

Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

  • Where: CFE’s conduct fraud work within, or are hired by accounting firms, law firms, government offices, banks, large corporations, and insurance companies.
  • Recognition: Certified Fraud Examiner designation is globally recognized.
  • Competencies: CFE’s are skilled in financial transactions and fraud schemes, law, investigation, and fraud prevention and deterrence.
  • Administrator: The CFE is managed by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
  • Requirements: The CFE certification requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting, two years of applicable experience and passing the CFE exam.

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

  • Where: CIA’s work in banking institutions, thrift/savings and loan organizations, credit unions, insurance companies, security and commodity services, holding and investment companies, credit agencies, financial services regulatory agencies, and other financial services organizations.
  • Competencies: CIA’s have the knowledge to evaluate the internal controls, management procedures, and the financial and information systems for an organization
  • Administrator: The CIA is administered by the Institute of Internal Auditors.
  • Requirements: A bachelor’s degree as well as two years of experience to sit for the exam. A master’s degree can also replace one year of experience.

As a finance professional, investing in yourself and expanding your skills is always a smart move. Consider how pursuit of a certification can bring you closer to your career goals.