Earning financial and accounting certifications is a big step toward improving your marketability as a financial professional. There are numerous certifications — each with its own requirements for education, hours and examination, as well as specific skills and advantages.
What they all have in common, though, is helping you be a more desirable candidate — and earn a higher salary. According to the 2014 Salary Guide from Robert Half, starting salaries for professionals holding accounting certifications can be 5 percent to 10 percent more than the market average.
Obtaining accounting or finance certifications is key to your career advancement, but some credentials are more in-demand than others. Here is a list of the most sought-after certifications:
- Certified Public Accountant — The CPA certification has a long reputation as the top credential for employees in the accounting and finance industry. With this certification, you validate your expertise in forensic accounting, tax, compliance, risk management and other skills.
- Master’s degree in business administration — The MBA, a graduate-level degree that is usually earned in two years, is most often desired for senior-level corporate accounting and finance jobs. Although these programs require a big investment — sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars — some larger companies will pay for part or all of your educational expenses.
- Chartered financial analyst — CFA certification is granted by the CFA Institute, and it demonstrates your knowledge and competence regarding principles of portfolio management, investment analysis, economics, and professional and ethical standards.
- Certified management accountant — The CMA certification is sponsored by the Institute of Management Accountants and is recognized globally. Professionals who hold this accounting certification demonstrate proficiency in financial analysis, budgeting, strategic assessment and other skills.
- Chartered global management accountant (CGMA) — The CGMA designation is the new global designation for CPAs working in business and government. Powered by the resources and expertise of AICPA and CIMA, two of the world’s leading accounting organizations, the CGMA designation gives you research, tools and a global network.
- Certified information systems auditor — Accountants holding a CISA certification, which is granted by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, can show they have a proficiency in information systems control, security and auditing.
- Certified internal auditor — The CIA is the only internationally accepted designation for internal auditors, and people who hold the certification demonstrate competence in areas such as risk and control and information technology.
These and other accounting and financial certifications are not only valuable for moving your career as a full-time professional forward, but they can also help you expand your skills and expertise to become a more well-rounded employee.
For more information on the many financial and accounting certifications available, download the 2014 Salary Guide from Robert Half.