When an aspiring accounting professional is looking to enter the field or someone already working as an accountant wants to enhance his/her career prospects, (s)he often turns to accounting certifications. As an add-on to existing degrees and an addition to the achievements of the candidate, an accounting or finance certification is a great choice for career growth.
What is an accounting certification?
This is a credential that helps an accounting professional to enhance his/her capabilities, knowhow, and skills, thereby enhancing his/her career prospects. Accounting and financial management certifications are available from several bodies, but the best ones are those offered by respected, experienced institutions with strong reputations and a proven track record in the industry.
Why is certification good?
For an accounting and financial management professional, a certification highlights the effort the person has put in to expand his/her knowledge and skills. This becomes especially important given how most candidates have completed university education and, hence, a bachelor’s degree is not all that valuable.
A professional certification thereby helps the holder stand out from the crowd of applicants for the best jobs. It makes him/her more marketable and qualifies him/her for more job positions and higher earning potential.
Do employers support certification?
Given how certification implies the candidate has invested money and time in continuing education, employer support comes as no surprise. Certification in fact adds credibility to the employer itself by proving that the company values bringing highly-qualified candidates on board. When Robert Half interviewed CFOs, the results showed that:
- 72 percent said their company would cover part or all of the cost of professional certification
- 76 percent said their company helps in maintaining certifications
Which are the top certification options in accounting?
Several options exist among accounting or finance certifications for desirous candidates. Here are the best options:
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Among the most common accounting certifications, CPA is often marked as a mandatory qualification for top job openings in accounting. A CPA holder is someone known to have expertise in compliance, forensic accounting, risk management, and taxes, among many areas that the best accounting roles require. CPA is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and its holders are employed in compliance, governmental and management accounting, taxation, and other roles.
The certification itself has four levels, which can be taken in any order desired. Eligibility requirements vary as per the specific US state, though most require the candidate to have a year of experience before pursuing CPA, along with five years of higher education.
Chartered Investment & Management Accountant (CIMA®)
Considered one of the most distinctive credentials, CIMA® stands out by offering two specializations – investment accounting and management accounting – in one qualification. A CIMA® holder is recognized as being strong in investment and business management solution modeling, challenge and opportunity reporting, strategic evaluation, and complex analysis.
Offered by the CIMA® Institute, this credential opens up job prospects in accounting KPOs, asset and wealth management firms, global conglomerates, and investment banks. The two-level program covers 20 knowledge themes, including concepts, frameworks, and techniques as well as critical management and investment decision areas.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
From the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), CMA is a testament to expertise in internal control auditing, decision analysis, forecasting, and cost management. A CMA-qualified candidate is considered to be on top of critical skills in accounting and financial management, and has strong practical experience in applying theoretical concepts. The exam itself is of two levels, and requires aspirants to have two consecutive years of work experience in financial management or management accounting, plus a bachelor’s degree.
To sum it up…
Accounting certifications are an excellent source of the latest skills and knowhow for accounting professionals looking for better job opportunities with more growth and higher salaries. A good accounting or finance certification boosts their capabilities by equipping them with the knowledge and application of the latest tools and techniques in accounting and financial management, facilitating an easier path to success!