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The accounting industry is a super competitive industry filled with excellent career opportunities. Accountants are always in demand, and seeking the proper certifications can advance your career. In a competitive job market, standing out and separating yourself from other candidates is essential. While graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting is required, it is the bare minimum. Having unique qualifications in this competitive market is critical. Certifications are a great way to expand your knowledge and skill set – you can pursue a wide range of certifications to strengthen unique industry skills and your overall knowledge. We talk about six specific accounting certificates that we know will bump you to the top of candidate lists. If you want some guidance on how to land your dream job, keep reading.

1. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Certification

The most common certification for accountants to get is a CPA. For a career in the finance industry, a CPA is a must-have and one of the best accounting certificates. Some accredited universities even include a CPA exam prep program to give students their best chance at passing the exam on the first take. You can receive this certification through the American Institute of CPAs – the world’s largest accounting association. Most employers require this certification – a CPA teaches you the basics of auditing, financial transactions, and financial performance and provides you the tools to optimize a company’s cash flows. With a CPA certification, you open yourself up to careers in public accounting, corporate accounting, bookkeeping, and many other specialties. CPA certification is foundational to a successful career in accounting – the sooner you get this certification, the better.

2. Chartered Financial Analysis (CFA) Certification

A CFA certification is for those who may be seeking a career in financial planning, investment, and economics. A CFA certification, like most certifications, requires a bachelor’s degree at the minimum but often requests additional experience to increase your chances of receiving the accreditation. A CFA may be obtained through the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute. This certification consists of three levels, while a CPA certification has one level. Chartered financial analysis usually specializes in market trends and stays current on economic trends. The exam can be completed as early as 18 months after you start the coursework, but it often takes up to three years to acquire the certification. Taking the time to get a CFA certification can set you apart from other candidates and keep you up to speed on all financial industry trends. CFA certifications are one of the best certificates in accounting today and one of the most sought-after certifications by finance professionals.

3. Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Certification

This is another one of the best certificates in accounting and can be received through the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). CMA certifications cover a wide range of finance topics for candidates seeking management careers. On average, it takes 12-18 months to complete both parts of the CMA certification, but it can take as long as three years. Receiving a CMA will help you fine-tune your management skills and expand your knowledge of corporate finance. Individuals seeking CMAs are typically pursuing a career in leadership, financial planning, or cost accounting. This makes the CMA certification one of the most sought-after certificates in the accounting industry.

4. Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) Designation

Completing your CFE is excellent for financial professionals specializing in auditing. CFEs are recognized worldwide as essential certifications in the accounting/finance industry and can help you advance your career to new heights. For accountants looking to build a career in fraud investigations for private and public firms, the CFE is for you. Passing the CFE exam shows you have expertise in protecting your organization from fraud and can positively impact your company’s bottom line. CFE certifications can be received through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). The exam to obtain the CFE often takes 60 days to complete all four parts but can take longer, depending on your personal timeline.

5. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) Certification

The CIA is the only globally recognized internal audit certification. Completing your CIA certification can expand an auditor’s skill set and give you more credibility. Receiving your CIA shows you specialize in information technology, risk, and control. People on this career path often work for large companies where they eventually take on manager roles or leadership responsibilities within the organization. CIA’s are given through the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). The average timeline to receive a CIA is about 18 months, but the Institute allows up to 3 years for completion. Seeking a CIA is a great way to broaden your opportunities in the accounting industry, making it one of the best accounting certificates.

6. Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) Designation

The CGMA is globally recognized as one of the best certificates in accounting. The American Institute of Certified Public Accounts (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) teamed up to start the CGMA program in 2012. This certification is seen as the highest benchmark of quality and competence in the accounting industry. Exams are offered multiple times a year and have different licenses (1, 2, or 3 years), so you can choose your route. To receive this certification, you must be a member of the AICPA and/or the CIMA organization. This certification allows you to be recognized as a thought leader in the accounting industry and add immediate value to your organization. Once you receive this certification, you will have advanced risk management knowledge, making it a popular choice for accounting professionals.

As you can see, there are a variety of specialties within accounting–and we only touched on a couple of them. There are many great choices, but your career path is up to you! The best part is that you can receive as many certifications as you’d like throughout your lifetime. It entirely rests on you and your career goals. The accounting industry has excellent career flexibility because of the many specializations. Our team specializes in placing accountants in roles where they thrive. Connect with us today to stay up to date on opportunities and make the most of your career in accounting. (Apply Here!)