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Five types of accounting certifications: which one is right for you?

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Sometimes the difference between getting a promotion and being stuck in a rut could be an accounting certification that can boost your marketability. There are various types of accounting certifications that you can use to jolt your career, get a wage increase and get the promotion you’ve been working to achieve. You may be wondering which certification is the best choice for you given that each accounting designation is slightly different with a particular career focus. It generally boils down to your career goals. Here are five accounting certifications that you can explore in order to choose the right one for you.

  1. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

This certification is the most common of the accounting designations out there. It’s the gold standard in the accounting profession and perhaps the most recognizable accounting certification. A certified public accountant (CPA) credential equips an individual with unique capabilities like having the ability to legally file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and perform auditing and attestation services. CPAs are the only ones licensed to carry out these accounting duties. Other duties performed by CPAs include maintaining and monitoring financial records, as well as correctly reading and interpreting them. CPAs also ensure compliance with all state and federal regulations and play a significant role in the preparation of tax returns. Becoming a CPA requires taking and passing all portions of the AICPA uniform CPA exam and meeting the education and work experience qualifications of your state. Check out these MDS CPA exam review courses.

  1. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation is ideal for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in the financial and investment sector, and is one of the most common internationally recognized accounting certifications, particularly in Europe and China. Typically, finance professionals with a CFA certification works on Wall Street or for a hedge fund/investment fund. It focuses on analysing finance, investing and business financial operations. To acquire CFA certification, you need to take and pass the CFA exam through the CFA Institute.

  1. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

The certified management accountant (CMA) designation allows financial professionals to specialize in company accounting management, particularly internal management and executive level roles such as chief operating officer (COO) and chief operating officer. It is more suited for professionals who’re interested in becoming an executive level officer in a Fortune 500 company, for example. To obtain CMA certification, passing the CMA exam administered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

  1. Enrolled Agent (EA)

An enrolled agent (EA) certification was created by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and equips one with knowledge of the US tax code and how to make it concepts applicable. The EA certification specifically focused on US taxation related to both individuals and corporations and is strictly a tax certification, with no emphasis on auditing, finance and management. This certification is best suited for tax preparation or a company’s internal tax work. EA certification is attainable through a 12-hour long enrolled agent exam administered by the IRS.

  1. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

A certified internal auditor (CIA) certification is intended strictly for use by compliance officers and auditors and is the only globally accepted certification for internal auditors. A CIA typically performs audit procedures for big companies and can also use the CIA designation as an independent auditor. This is useful in the internal auditing field. To become certified, you need to take a three-part exam.

These certifications all have lengthy exams which can make them difficult to obtain. Choosing the right accounting certification will depend on what your professional/career goals. Any of these certifications can give a financial professional an advantage and enhance their marketability. Some of the certifications have strict requirements to sit the exam, so you’ll have to be prepared before you can actually take that step. The CPA credential is perhaps the best option if you are not set on an exact accounting career path since it’s the most commonly used certification.

Are you a budding acccountant? Share with us what has inspired you to become one.


Career CamelFive types of accounting certifications: which one is right for you?

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