Top 10 Accounting Certifications to Enhance Your Career in 2024

Top 10 Accounting Certifications to Enhance Your Career
Top 10 Accounting Certifications to Enhance Your Career
The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) says that getting an accounting certification is like having a special passport that shows you’re an expert in accounting. Accountants undergo stringent examinations on high-caliber accounting and tax knowledge.

With the current competitive job environment, top employers, however, deliberately look for the best in accountancy certification. The differentiating factor is the area of expertise enhanced during the accounting course and certification.

About Accounting Certifications

All accounting certificates are not created equal. They range from fundamental preparatory courses for accountants to full-fledged examinations.

While many accountants stop their education after obtaining their accounting degree, you always have the opportunity to obtain additional accounting certificates to enhance your skills in particular areas of accounting that are relevant to your career niche. 

Certifications are required to practice accounting in the United States, while certificates are not and are therefore available to either graduate accountants or anyone without any undergraduate preparation to become an accountant.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook revealed that accountants need certification to land the best accounting jobs in the United States. Some employers prefer Certified Public Accountants, while others simply want job candidates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a relevant field.

Your technical knowledge, soft skills, and certifications make up the sum total of your career. A basic prerequisite for most accounting positions is a bachelor's degree in accounting from a reputable university.

Other requirements include an understanding of accounting and auditing rules and regulations, as well as a comprehensive understanding of business accounting practices as commonly accepted within the United States. With the completion of a master's degree, this information can be taken to a higher level.

10 Best Accounting Certifications to Enhance Your Career

We would like to help you focus on a large variety of accounting certifications, so we have done the research for you and have compiled a large variety of best accounting certifications from specialized accounting niche paths.

Here’s a list of the top 10 accounting certifications and what you need to know.

1. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the pioneer accounting certificate, just like the Bar is for lawyers. It has become just as important as a college degree for obtaining accounting jobs with top accounting firms.

If you want your career to achieve greater things, then going through the learning investment and time investment to become a Certified Public Accountant may be the smartest decision you can ever make.

After all, the most famous accountants are CPAs, such as Enron's former auditor Arthur Andersen's think partner in his book best-sellers "The Fast Times and Hard Times of the Big Four Accounting Firms," "Accounts Demise, The Imminent Collapse of the Big Firm Accounting Model—And How to Save It," and "They Called It Enron".

In addition to that, other service professionals have their own certifications and professional degrees. Have you ever met a lawyer who is not a member of the Bar? Unless you are talking to a law student, I bet you have not.

Attorneys have to pass their Bar Exam, just like Certified Public Accountants have to pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (i.e., the CPA Exam).

The AICPA offers the Uniform CPA Exam all year at Prometric test centers. You can find these centers both in the U.S. and internationally. The exam covers sections like financial reporting, auditing, business environment, and regulation.

2. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification is given by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). If you don't know about the IMA, it is a U.S.-based global association of accountants and financial professionals in management and manufacturing accounting.

The CMA certificate demonstrates skill and expertise in the areas of accounting and finance used in business. The CMA certification is designed to emphasize leadership, financial planning, analysis, and support.

Studying for the CMA certificate not only enriches you with recognition but also helps you improve and acquire new skills. This certification requires accuracy and expertise in studies.

The CMA certificate intensifies your employment potential, opens career doors for you, offers high earning potential, and provides more granular career development by acquiring the qualification.

Currently, the certification fee is $250 for each part, and for IMA professional members, the exam fees for each part are $415. This certification must be renewed every three years, and the renewal can be completed by completing 30 hours of CPE.

Currently, there are hundreds of local professional or student chapters and international partners who serve as a two-way channel between the IMA and the professional community, while providing a variety of services and events to association members.

3. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The Chartered Financial Analyst designation is your key to opportunities in financial services. The CFA program is universally recognized as the gold standard of the investment industry. 

Proficiency in economics, accounting, portfolio management, and security analysis is required to become a CFA, and the prestige of the CFA credential is shown in the salary gap between CFAs and their colleagues.

The 2020 Robert Half Salary Guide reports that entry-level financial analysts with a CFA can expect to earn 31% more over their careers than those without a CFA.

The career benefits of earning the CFA include advanced knowledge, lower market entry, and the potential to earn a higher salary — benefiting from the CFA carries a higher entry level and less market saturation than other business oversight certifications.

With these benefits, coupled with the potential to make more money and get to top positions, the CFA certification is one of the most sought-after in accounting and business management.

4. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

CISA certification ensures that systems and applications are secure, trustworthy, and reliable. It also adds credibility to IS audit and control work and provides confidence in reporting.

This certification is for candidates with a minimum of five years of professional information systems auditing, control, and security work experience, and it is popularly recognized as part of ISACA courses.

Since it is recognized as part of ISACA courses, the areas of coverage include:
  • The process of auditing information systems
  • Governance and management of IT
  • Major types of controls
  • Skills of an IS auditor
  • Information systems acquisition, development, and implementation
  • Information systems operations, maintenance, and support
  • Protection of information assets
The CISA certification ensures that candidates are highly professional in their field of work. This certification also helps to achieve high respect among those in the audit field. The CISA certification also ensures the application of the framework and the approach of an organization in implementing audit and control techniques.

The CISA certification helps in achieving highly professional environments in internal control and rules related to proprietary, financial, regulatory, and business-specific.

5. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

If you prefer corporate accounting over the public variety, the CIA certificate may be your best option. Getting knowledgeable accountants ready for compliance and risk makes the Certified Internal Auditor program globally acknowledged.

More of a role of coordinating these professionals amidst the accounting team than a typical function of audit, but the role can still be implied. This distinction will help you not only to perform your current role better but also to fast-track a climb in the corporate accounting sector.

Backed by the Institute of Certified Internal Auditors (IIA), the CIA credential is the leading global certification for internal audit professionals and is compliant and approved with the International Standards for Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.

After obtaining the appropriate work history (you would need a relevant bachelor's degree or a minimum of five years of work experience), an incredible 82.8 percent of exam candidates obtained the CIA's qualifications.

This certification is widely respected as a validated proof of internal audit expertise, knowledge, and professionalism by peers and management alike. Angling for such a highly respected credential makes you develop the attributes of professionalism.

6. Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

The Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential equips you with surefire techniques for fighting fraud, empowers you to thwart its effects, and helps you ensure that it doesn't happen again.

The reason you should become a CFE is the same reason that arson and the crime of theft are punished more severely than the attempted or neglectful commission of those crimes: fraud is a violent crime because when you rob someone's bank account, you are robbing that person's peace of mind.

The CFE credential is appropriate for anti-fraud professionals of all levels, from investigators to auditors, accountants, law enforcement officers, attorneys, and criminologists.

While the CFE credential is not new, since its creation over 25 years ago, the specialty has grown dramatically, and more CFEs are needed than ever to keep pace with the increasing prevalence of these kinds of white-collar crimes.

If you really want to make a difference and help rid the world of white-collar crimes, the CFE is the credential for you. Its exclusivity alone makes becoming a CFE a noteworthy accomplishment. 

Currently, there are only about 12,500 CFEs worldwide. As a Certified Fraud Examiner, you could fill a gap where fraud expertise is lacking. Companies want and need CFEs because most have insufficient in-house fraud detection and investigation expertise.

That means more revenue for the company, a higher salary, and valuable bonuses for you. The road toward a CFE credential includes a rigorous exam along with a requirement of professional experience.

7. Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)

The Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) certification targets public sector financial managers at the federal, state, and local levels.

The CGFM certification comprises three examinations: governmental environment, governmental accounting, financial reporting & Budgeting, and Governmental Financial Management and Control.

The certification not only demonstrates an individual’s expertise in the field but also addresses the diverse financial management needs of governments—that of governance, risk management, internal audit, performance management, activity management, crisis management, and reporting activities.

Some of the unique benefits of possessing this certification in Public Financial Management are that it provides comprehensive knowledge of public financial management, state and local government financial reporting, risk management, financial analysis, and a peripheral understanding of the new social accounting matrix.

8. Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

Management accountants prepare financial reports for internal stakeholders, such as executives and leadership teams. Most management accountants hold a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or business administration. An entry-level management accountant position may require a professional certification, such as the CGMA designation.

Management accountants are also responsible for financial planning, strategic management and analysis, risk management, financial reporting, internal control, and performance management. 

The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation demonstrates expertise in management accounting and strategic planning. In addition to a bachelor's degree in finance or accounting, you'll need at least two years of management accounting experience to earn the CGMA credential. 

To maintain this certification, management accountants must fulfill continuing education requirements every year.

9. Enrolled Agent (EA)

An Enrolled Agent is the highest credential given by the IRS. It's awarded to tax professionals who have shown their expertise in taxation.

EAs are authorized to represent their clients in front of the IRS. The best part of this certification is that you don't need any specific degree or accounting experience to appear for the EA exam. An EA typically serves the general public and larger corporate clients.

According to the Prometric EA Candidate Information brochure, an EA examination must have a section focusing on the laws and taxes concerning taxation. In addition, individuals taking the EA exam have two other sections that cover regulations related to representation or IRS questions.

The review and test completion process is computerized. As a result, no text may be brought into the workshop.

Upon accepting the EA designation, candidates must file federal tax returns annually or complete a minimum number of CE hours. Upon completing the IRS tax preparer update online workshop, these tax professionals must accept a new compliance requirement.

There are no educational or experience prerequisites for the EA exam. EA candidates do not need any professional subscriptions to IRS software, SAM, or Online Account.

However, applicants must either have previous or current experience as IRS employees or tax practitioners. Taxpayers would also need to show integrity and support the tax laws and return rules. Upon successful completion, the applicant must have a criminal background check.

10. Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) Designation

ACCA is one of the most sought-after accounting certifications because it is prestigious, highly recognized all over the world, and it equips you with the skills that are highly sought after during global economic downturns.

ACCA specifically focuses on the accounting and finance skills needed by businesses, so the accounting professionals that hold this qualification can be sure that they are highly sought after. With ACCA, you'll be prepared for any challenges that arise during tough economic conditions, and that's extremely valuable.

ACCA is respected and recognized worldwide. Having an ACCA designation behind your name will help you get hired; getting noticed by employers, commanding an excellent salary, and having a wealth of opportunities are quite easy.

For any accounting designation to have global authority, that means it is recognized all over the world. ACCA is the top-recognized accounting credential because of this global authority. For someone who is looking for an accounting career with global opportunities, ACCA is genuinely for you.

ACCA might land you the role of a management consultant, business advisor, or financial staffer in top positions.

Conclusion: 10 Best Accounting Certifications to Enhance Your Career

Becoming a CPA is a significant investment, but having a competitive employment edge is worth it. It's also a great way to make sure the hard work you put into your accounting education pays off. Completing a professional certification can also power you up the salary scale and advance your career.

All that is possible with a small investment in time and money and a little bit in the way of ongoing educational requirements. With so many accounting certifications available, it's hard to determine which one is the best.

We've made it a little easier for you by rounding up the top 10 accounting certifications and explaining why they're great. Remember, they're not in a particular order, so any one of these could be the one for you.
Next Post Previous Post
No Comment
Add Comment
comment url