There are several different accounting certifications. Each of them
requires the passing of an exam for their specific focus. It is common
for an accountant to hold more than one certification, and some
accounting jobs have duties that overlap between skills in two or more
It is important to understand that each state has different
requirements for some certifications. It is important to research your
state’s requirements to ensure you understand what will be expected of
you and what type of work you will be able to take once certified.
Certified Public Accountant
The CPA certification is the most common certification in the
accounting world. It is required by almost any accounting firm or
employer regardless of other certifications held. You should plan to get
your CPA certification regardless of what other certifications you are
hoping to achieve.
Certified Management Accountant
The CMA certification designates you as a professional in the areas
of cost management, internal control auditing, decision analysis and
forecasting. CMAs are often responsible for choosing and maintaining
accounting information systems. They are also responsible for analyzing
reports generated by the system.
Certified Financial Manager
This certification is generally held by those who work with the stock
market, treasurers for companies, investment planners and risk
analysts, and finance educators. Most jobs for CFMs are held in the
corporate world and are often a certification that comes after the
general CMA certification.
Certified Internal Auditor
The CIA certification is required for those who wish to do external
auditing. This job requires the auditing of corporate or other public
businesses. It is the CIAs job to make sure that company finances are
properly recorded and reported.
Certified Fraud Examiner
Fraud accountants investigate suspected fraud. They are responsible
for auditing and analyzing reports in order to determine if proper
reporting has been done, and all money is accounted for. They work with
businesses and corporations to ensure laws are followed.
EAs are licensed by the federal government. They have permission to
appear in place of a client in matters of taxation. They deal directly
with the IRS during matters relating to either personal tax or business
tax audits. They also advise and prepare taxes for both personal and
business taxes. An EA is the only authorized person who can represent
the individual or business who is being audited.
Certified Government Financial Manager
CGFMs work in the federal, state and local government sectors. They
understand the laws and special government financial needs. Many CGFMs
are responsible for advising, preparing taxes, helping with budgets, and
balancing financial statements for government spending and taxes
collected. This certification is difficult to obtain. Acquiring this
certification designates you as a leader in your field and someone who
understands the unique financial needs of the government on all levels.
Certified Financial Planner
CFPs are responsible for advising clients in matters of financial
planning. They are able to look at an individual financial position and
make a plan for expanding personal assets through investments and
financial planning. They also advise their clients on tax laws and help
them maximize their personal assets in a way that benefits their future.
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