Which Accounting Certification is Right for You?

Financial paper charts and graphs on the table

Obtaining an accounting certification is a testament to a person’s commitment to succeed professionally, and as such, it is often used as a tie-breaker between candidates for a job. Gaining a universally recognized accounting certification can help you to get and keep the job during economic downturns. It can also increase your skillset’s marketability and provide professional credibility for both yourself as well as your firm.

A professional accounting certification not only looks good on your résumé, but can also lead to increased salary and advancement opportunities. 

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A CPA certification can help to advance your accounting career. CPAs work in several different specializations including:

  • Audit
  • Compliance
  • Tax
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Fraud Examination
  • IT Systems
  • Risk Management
  • Appraisals
  • And more

CPAs help companies to comply with the bylaws and regulations set in place as well as reduce risks. Different states have different educational and experience related requirements that extend beyond the 150 hours earned in a BA. 

You will have to pass a CPA exam which includes 4 parts.

  1. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  2. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  3. Regulation (REG)
  4. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

Each part of the exam is graded on a scale of 1-100, and you must receive a passing score of 75 or higher. While that may not appear strenuous, according to the AICPA, the overall passing rate is less than 50%.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Another great certification that often has a few overlapping qualities as a CPA. While CPAs are better for compliance and controls, Certified Management Accountants are more about the financial analysis, budgeting, and ongoing stewardship of the company.

CMAs have 4 major components, including:

  • Business Analysis which includes global economics and business.
  • Management Accounting and Reporting, includes budget preparation, cost management, and external financial reporting.
  • Strategic Management which involves strategic planning, marketing, corporate finance, and investment decisions.
  • Business Application has the organization management, communication, behavioral issues and ethical considerations.

To receive a CMA you have to:

  • Become a registered member of IMA
  • Have a bachelors degree
  • Pass both parts of the CMA exam
  • Have 2 continuous years of professional experience in management accounting or financial management
  • You must also follow the IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice

The Right Accounting Certification For You

With many different accounting jobs out there, not all of them are created or treated equally. While a CPA will hold more value, there are still other certifications suited for jobs and industry-specific roles.

These include:

If you want to upgrade your position within the accounting and business community, investing time and effort in certification should be your first goal. Then, depending on what kind of accounting job you are looking for, you can add additional certifications like the ones above.

Other Accounting Certifications:

  • Fundamental Payroll Certificate (FPC)
  • Business Accountant
  • Financial Examiner (AFE)
  • Tax Preparer (ATP)
  • Certified Forensic Accountant (Cr.FA)
  • Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA)
  • Forensic Certified Public Accountant (FCPA)

To Summarize

Accounting and finance is a very competitive field, and most accountants will hit a career plateau if they do not seek further certification. Adding accounting certifications can help to improve your station within the industry.

If you are a CPA or CMA looking for a new position, click here to view DLC’s available accounting and finance opportunities.