Accounting certifications are among the most beneficial professional credentials you can list on your resume.
Certifications demonstrate competence in your area of the finance and accounting industry, make you a more desirable candidate for open positions and improve your salary potential. Current and prospective employers want professionals to have these designations, but you have to think critically when deciding which of the many accounting certifications is best for your career path.
Certain certifications create opportunities for a variety of positions, while others are geared toward highly specialized roles. Deciding between these options depends on your interests, skills and the flexibility of your career goals. Here are three examples of widely applicable accounting certifications and three examples of more specialized designations:
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
The CPA license has long been one of the most popular certifications. You are awarded this designation following the successful completion of education hours, work experience and a comprehensive exam, which denotes your skills in compliance, forensic accounting and other areas. CPAs may be involved in auditing, management consulting, management accounting, financial accounting and reporting, and many other areas.
Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
The CGMA license is a globally recognized certification for management accountants. It has been offered since 2012, and the requirements for this certification depend on which of the two sponsoring institutions — the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) or Charted Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) — you belong to. Members of the latter organization automatically qualify, but members of the AICPA have additional requirements.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
Like the CPA designation, the CMA license affords more flexibility than some other accounting certifications. This globally recognized license is earned by accounting professionals demonstrating competency in strategic assessment, budgeting and other skills. CMAs may find themselves working in staff accounting, joint interest accounting, finance management or other areas.
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
The CISA license is among the more specialized accounting certifications. Accountants who receive this designation from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association are skilled in information systems control, auditing and security.
Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
CFEs focus their career on tasks related to fraud, including identification, prevention and investigation. As instances of fraud increase and companies become more susceptible, demand for CFEs has risen.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
The CFA designation is another targeted license among accounting certifications. CFAs are involved in investment analysis and portfolio management. The exam for this certification comprises three levels relating to topics such as ethics, economics and money management. They must be completed sequentially before the CFA license can be earned. CFAs are globally recognized, and earning this certification specifically enhances the skills used by portfolio managers. Some CFAs also become research analysts or consultants.