5 Great Accounting Certifications

5 Certifications for Accounting Professionals

  • Certified Public Accountant
  • Certified Financial Analyst
  • Certified Fraud Examiner
  • Certified Internal Auditor
  • Enrolled Agent

Getting a degree in accounting can open the door to a graduate’s first job as an accountant, but earning one of the professional accounting certifications will accelerate promotions and salary increases. According to Forbes, an accounting professional demonstrates both specialized knowledge of all the particular regulations of a financial specialty and, because of renewal requirements, that he or she has kept current with new laws and trends. Some of the popular accounting certificates include the following.

1. Certified Public Accountant

The CPA exam consists of four exams totaling 16 hours and is the most popular and one of the most rigorous of all the certifications. Many upper-level accounting jobs require their employees to keep their CPA credentials current. The four sections cover laws and regulations, auditing practices, accounting in business, and bank accounting. There are a series of multiple choice questions as well as simulations to complete. Upon earning a CPA, an accountant is immediately more in-demand across a variety of industries and has demonstrated mastery of common accounting practices.

2. Certified Financial Analyst

This accounting certificate requires a knowledge of the foundations of accounting practice, similar to what is found on the CPA exam, but also a bigger-picture understanding of financial theory and investments. These professionals can find jobs as certified financial officers and investment analysts. This credential demonstrates the ability to connect complicated accounting theories to daily practices and a company’s overall financial plan. Anyone passing the CFA exam is an expert in portfolio and asset planning.

3. Certified Fraud Examiner

The CFE is a very specialized accounting certificate that tests the ability to identify fraud in financial institutions and businesses. This credential requires passing a 500-question examination. Plus, there are rigorous requirements that applicants must meet including demonstration of high moral character. A Master’s degree is traditionally required, but certain professional achievements can be substituted. Certified fraud examiners are employed in legal, loss prevention, cyber-crime, and auditing accounting positions.

4. Certified Internal Auditor

Earning this accounting certificate is beneficial primarily to professionals who want to work as an auditor in the corporate or financial world. Many CIAs also find employment in government positions. Through the examination and professional requirements, these accountants prove their ability to give an objective assessment of a company’s risk management strategies and perform other routine auditing functions.

5. Enrolled Agent

This is the preferred accounting credential for tax professionals serving either business or personal clients. The IRS designs and administers the 12-hour examination that is broken up into three parts, individuals, businesses, and representation. These professionals can perform the duties of a paid tax preparer as well as provide counsel during audits. Often, an accountant will get this certification before continuing to earn their CPA credential.

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These are just a few of the many certifications accountants can earn to advance their careers. The certification exams require months of study, and even then, not everyone passes. Plus, most of these designations require previous experience. Once all the requirements are met, though, earning an accounting certificate demonstrates expertise in the field and results in higher salaries.