Get Certified! Take Your Accounting Career to the Next Level


Accounting and finance professionals are in high demand, thanks to the steadily rebounding economy. Still, it's the advanced certifications you earn that will help you secure the position and compensation you want.  

When you take the time to invest in professional development and certifications, it makes your resume stand out and sends a message to employers that you’re dedicated to your career and motivated to advance by enhancing your skills and knowledge.

Many employers look for candidates who stand out with credentials such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) or Project Management Professional (PMP).

Also, according to the latest Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance from Robert Half, in-demand credentials can add 5 percent to 15 percent to the overall pay for finance and accounting professionals — who have an average starting salary, by the way, that’s expected to rise 4.7 percent in 2016.  

But what certifications in particular can make you a more attractive candidate and bring you a higher salary? Here’s an alphabetical list of the most highly sought accounting jobs from the Salary Guide, along with the professional development that can boost your resume to the top of the pile:

Accounts receivable/accounts payable  

Most AR/AP professionals hone their skills with on-the-job experience. But an accounts receivable or accounts payable certification can make you a more desirable applicant or move you up the job ranks. AR professionals might look into Accredited Receivables Manager (ARM) or Accredited Receivables Specialists (ARS) certifications. AP professionals will find the Accredited Payables Manager (APM) and Accredited Payables Specialist (APS) to be gold standards. You may also consider an associate degree in accounting.


To reach higher-level auditing positions, you’ll want to consider a master's degree in business administration (MBA), as well as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). Information techology (IT) auditors should look into the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), rather than the CIA.

Business and business systems analysts

Business analysts and business systems analysts can increase their marketability by acquiring an MBA. If you want to go a step further, you can sit for the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) or Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA).

Compliance professionals

The options for compliance certifications vary, depending on your industry and specialization, and they are almost as numerous as regulatory mandates. Options include the Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional (CCEP), Certified Compliance and Regulatory Professional (CCRP), Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional (CRCP) and Investment Adviser Compliance Certification Program (IACCP).


If you’re a controller on the job market, an MBA will distinguish you from other candidates, especially if it’s accompanied by a CPA or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential. It’s important to note that most employers prefer the CPA, making it one of the most in-demand certifications.

Cost accountants, staff accountants, senior accountants

You can propel yourself upward in these accounting jobs by obtaining a CPA or CMA. Employers prefer the CPA, and if you’re looking to hit senior or management levels, an MBA can help you get there.

Financial analysts

To make the preferred candidate list as a financial analyst, you’ll need a CPA or an MBA. Having both is even better.

Payroll professionals

Looking to land your dream payroll job? Then consider getting a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) designation, because this designation can help you make it to supervisory roles.

So do you have the certifications needed to set yourself apart from other candidates and command a higher salary? If not, there’s no time like the present to show employers you mean business and increase your career opportunities by investing in professional development.

Want to learn everything you need to know about the CPA — and then some?


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