What are the Different Accounting Certifications?

accounting certifications

Many accountants, and potential accountants, want to know what the different accounting certifications are. Because accounting is a lucrative career with many different pathways to take, many people have decided to pursue a career in accounting. An accounting certification can set you apart from the pack and increase your chances of getting a job, a raise and a promotion. There are a number of different accounting certifications, and the one that is right for you will depend on your career goals.

Certified Public Accountant

The most valuable accounting certification is the Certified Public Accountant certification, also known as a CPA. Obtaining the CPA certification requires a bachelor’s degree and in most cases a master’s degree to obtain 150 hours of education. Though requirements can vary from state to state, many states require at least two years of public accounting experience as well. Once the prerequisites are met, the CPA exam needs to be passed. The exam consists of four parts: Financial, Business, Auditing and Regulation. A candidate does not sit for all parts at the same time, but once the first exam is passed the remaining three must be passed within 18 months.

The amount of work that goes into obtaining the CPA designation shows potential employers that you have the skills needed to be a valuable asset to their team. Many upper level accounting jobs require the CPA certification and jobs in public accounting require a CPA to move up to the higher levels, such as manager. If you want more information about the CPA certification process you can visit the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant’s website.

Other Accounting Certifications

There are a number of other accounting certifications that have less extensive requirements. The ones listed below require a bachelor’s degree but not public accounting experience.

Certified Management Accountant

Often referred to as the CMA, this certification can be an excellent alternative to the CPA for accounting professionals. There certification process isn’t quite as extensive as the requirements for the CPA and there is only one exam. If you work in manufacturing or in a position in management accounting, this could be the right designation for you.

Certified Fraud Examiner

This certification, also known as a CFE certification, is mainly for forensic accountants and can give you the additional skills needed to prevent and detect fraud. The CFE exam has four sections that must be passed before obtaining the certification. If you are interested in forensic accounting than, once obtained, this certification can provide a significant increase in pay.

Certified Internal Auditor

Also known as a CIA certification, this certification is best for those who work as internal auditors at a company, as opposed to working as an auditor at a public accounting firm. To obtain this certification, a candidate must obtain a minimum of 24 months of experience in internal auditing. If you have a master’s degree, you will only need 12 months of relevant work experience.


For more information on any of the above accounting certifications, or to learn about others, visit Investopedia.

Whichever accounting certification is right for you; it will surely give you an edge over others in the industry. Many times, a certification is the deciding factor in the hiring process. Also, the potential for an increase in salary or a promotion makes the work put into obtaining an accounting certification well worth it. Find the right certification and start studying right away.

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