An accounting certification helps increase earning potential and qualify financial professionals for more opportunities. If you’re thinking about getting a certification, looking into some of the more common options will help you determine which one is right for you. In this article, we’ll go through four of the most popular accounting certificates, how to get them and how they benefit your career progression.
Of course, continuing education is an investment of both time and money — and your employer may be able to assist you in making a case for credentials. Each has its own set of school and work experience requirements, as well as concentrations on particular abilities. But knowing which one is best for you depends on your professional path, expertise, qualifications and financial means. Here are four of the most prevalent accounting certifications:
1. Certified Public Accountant
A CPA is the most prevalent accounting credential, and is necessary for many professions in the field. It tests your skills in risk management, taxation, forensic accounting and other essential accounting skills.
Prerequisites include five years of higher learning, a minimum of 150 continuing education credits in business and accounting and verifiable relevant experience. The CPA exam takes approximately a year to pass; exam and license criteria differ by state, but most state agencies demand one year of accounting experience before granting the license.
2. Certified Financial Analyst
A financial professional’s knowledge and talents in asset management, economics, professional ethics and investment analysis are verified by holding the CFA designation. The CFA Institute is the organization that sponsors the certification.
Prerequisites include a bachelor’s degree and four years of relevant experience. Total certification time can be completed in 18 months, but most people take over two years.
3. Certified Internal Auditor
For those wanting a job as an internal auditor, the CIA certification is the only globally accepted credential. It shows that you can work well with both internal and external clients. It also denotes risk and control, as well as information technology skills.
A bachelor’s degree is required in addition to two years of internal auditing experience. One year of experience can be replaced with a master’s degree. Certification can take anywhere from a year to 18 months.
4. Certified Management Accountant
The CMA validates capability in cost management, internal auditing skills, decision analysis and forecasting. The Institute of Management Accountants is the sponsor of the certification. A CMA exhibits comprehension of essential accounting and financial management abilities from an internal, managerial, or generalized standpoint. If you want to work for a major, international corporation, most accountants would secure their CPA and CMA certifications.
Candidates are required to have a bachelor’s degree and two consecutive years in financial management or management accounting. Time to certification is one to two years.
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