There are various types of accounting certifications, so how do you know which one is right for you?
Below is a list of available accounting certifications and a brief description of each one. Browse through the list, and see which one fits your career goals.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
CPA certification is the most common type of accounting certification. In order to be able to legally do certain tasks in the accounting profession, you must be a CPA. Also, to advance very far in an accounting career, you must have your CPA certification. Requirements to earn a CPA vary from state to state, but the bare minimum for most states require 150 credit hours of university education (which is equivalent to about five years) and passing of the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, which is given by the American Institute of CPA’s.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
Many people have heard of a CPA, but many people may have not heard of a CMA. CPA’s do a large variety of work, including compliance, tax preparation, forensic accounting, fraud examination, IT systems, risk management, and appraisals. CMA’s, on the other hand, generally have a more narrow scope of work, which usually includes management of employees and companies.
Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
Due to the rise of fraudulent activity in recent years, CFE’s are becoming more and more important. CFE’s are considered experts in the anti-fraud field, and help situations like what happened at Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco from happening again. Job opportunities are surprisingly good for this area of expertise.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
Certified Financial Planners assist their clients in investing their money and allocating their assets properly in order to achieve their financial goals. Some plans are quite simple and may only consist of managing a retirement account, for which any number of financial experts can help with. On the other hand, some are quite complex involving many accounts, which may include overseas accounts, as well as real estate and other assets, for which case a CFP would be best suited to handle. As the baby boom generation approaches retirement, CFP’s are becoming more and more in demand.
Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
This certificate is recognized globally and is issued by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), and it is the standard by which individuals can show their competency and professionalism in the field of internal auditing. Once you have received this certification, you must take continuing education courses to keep it. Many CIA’s (not to be confused with Central Inelegance Agency) hold high positions such as audit managers or chief audit executives.
Enrolled Agent (EA)
Often called the best kept secret in accounting, Enrolled Agents represent taxpayers in dealings with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Some people may wonder what the difference is between a CPA and an EA. Enrolled Agents actually specialize in taxation, while CPA’s specialize in a broader range of services, and may or may not provide tax service. In order to become an EA, you must pass the Special Enrollment Examination or provide proof that you have qualifying experience as an IRS employee.
Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)
The CGFM is a professional certification issued by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). It was created in 1994 to set a standard by which government financial management professionals are measured. Candidates must have a minimum of two years work experience in a government finance capacity. The curriculum of the test applies to federal, state, and local government, and it tests on a broad range of subjects rather than just one or two specialties. CGFM’s are able to meet the unique challenges faced by state and local government financial managers.