Almost every public and private business entity – at all levels of government, small and large companies, and major accounting firms (KPMG, EY, Deloitte, PwC) – hires finance professionals.
The demand for accounting and finance jobs shifts with the economy. As the economy grows, so does the need for accounting and financial management services. toimprove their accounting skills, knowledge, credibility, and career prospects, many finance and accounting professionals earn specializations in various accounting niches. We'll examine five of the most popular accounting and finance certifications and how they benefit finance professionals.
What are Accounting and Finance Certifications?
There are different types of accounting and finance certifications. One of the best known is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. CPAs specialize in auditing, compliance, tax, forensic accounting, fraud testing and more. Another popular financial certification is the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification, which focuses on financial analysis.
Other lesser-known certifications include certified bank auditor, certified fraud auditor, certified information systems auditor, certified internal auditor, and enrolled agent. However, CPA is the most sought-after certification because many accountants' careers will fall short without such a certification.
Did you know?Accounting and finance professionals are typically familiar with several of thesebest accounting software solutionsintegral part of various types of business.
What are the benefits of certification?
Certifications indicate specific knowledge that can help customershire the right accountantfor their needs. According to the Institute of Financial Consultants, current financial certifications can also help achieve the following:
- Improve professional reputation.
- Support professional development.
- Show a high level of commitment to the field.
- Validate skills and knowledge.
- Communicate credibility.
- Increase opportunities for career advancement and increase income.
- Differentiate candidates in a competitive job market.
Certifications also have benefits that extend to the public, the financial industry, and employers. Certifications can help companies:
- standardize practices.
- Improve collaboration between organizations in the same discipline.
- Provide the means for self-regulation.
- Increase employee competence.
- Identify quality service providers.
- Provide the means to create an ethical code.
- Build customer trust in employees.
- make job decisions.
Did you know?As companiesrecruit new employeesfor accounting and finance jobs, certifications immediately show potential employees' areas of expertise.
Top 5 Accounting and Finance Certifications
We're going to take an in-depth look at five of the most popular and valuable accounting and finance certifications, as well as some additional qualifications you may be interested in.
1. Certified Government Finance Manager
Those interested in government accounting, financial reporting, auditing andBudgetplanungat the local, state, or federal level should consider the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) certification offered by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).
To earn CGFM certification, candidates must have a bachelor's degree and at least two years of professional experience in government financial management. They must also pass three CGFM exams:
- Government Environment (GE)
- Government Accounting, Financial Reporting and Budgeting (GAFRB)
- Government Finance Management and Control (GFMC)
Each exam costs $125. Candidates must also pay an application fee of $80 for AGA members, $36 for student members and $109 for non-members.
According to LinkedIn salary, those who earn their CGFM certification typically earn around $98,000, with the high end being around $140,000.
2. Certified Public Accountant
The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) is the membership organization behind the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification, which is aimed at management accountants and financial professionals.
In terms of what sets a CMA apart from other accounting professionals, the IMA explains that CMAs understand the "why" behind numbers, not just the "what." This means that a CMA's role can include analyzing and reporting on monthly financials, forecasts and the annual budget, as well as providing strategic planning inputs.
A CMA certification can be lucrative.IMA Global Salary Survey 2021reports that the average total compensation for CMAs is 58% higher than for those without the designation. The study found that the median total base salary in 2021 was $110,000, with a median total compensation of $124,000.
To earn the CMA designation, you must have:
- Current IMA membership
- A bachelor's degree or recognized accounting certification
- Two years of relevant work experience
- Pass the two-part CMA exam
The first part of the CMA exam covers financial reporting, planning, performance management, and analytics. The second part focuses on financial strategy and decision making.
The IMA charges $275 for a Professional membership, an admission fee of $280 (for Professional members), and $460 for each exam segment. (A discount is available for students and academic members, and a limited number of scholarships are available each year.)
Tipp:The latest two-part CMA exam went into effect on January 1, 2020CMA exam structure and FAQsprepare.
The crème de la crème of accounting certifications is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA). CPAs can work for public or private sector organizations or as consultants. CPAs can perform a variety of tasks such as: B. maintenance of financial records, corporate finance, budget monitoring, tax preparation and financial planning.
Some CPAs earn additional certifications and perform more specialized jobs, including working as internal auditors, using forensic accounting techniques to detect financial crimes, and working as fraud investigators.
Every state -- and several jurisdictions -- certifies and licenses CPAs through their accounting departments, so you'll need to research your locale's requirements. A typical minimum requirement is a bachelor's degree with courses in general accounting, cost accounting, and more.AccountingEdu.organd theCPA-Prüfungsseite der Association of International Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).are good starting points for identifying the requirements you need to meet.
The typical CPA salary is around $73,000 based on reported salariesBureau of Labor Statistics(BLS). The AICPA states that the average salary for CPAs with significant experience is around $120,000.
Did you know?KleinBusinesses are hiring CPAsSo they can spend less time worrying about taxes, save money by taking advantage of deductions, keep their finances current, and stay in good standing with the IRS.
4. Chartered Financial Analyst
The CFA Institute offers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, which is aimed at investment and portfolio managers, corporate finance advisors and analysts.
Candidates for the CFA designation must have:
- A passport for identification purposes
- A bachelor's degree or equivalent
- Four years of investment decision making experience
- Or a combination of education and experience
To earn the CFA designation, you must pass three exams — Levels I, II, and III — offered each June. (The Level I exam is also offered in December.) The Level I exam focuses on knowledge and understanding of investment vehicles. The Level II exam tests a candidate's application and analysisAsset Valuation. The Level III exam tests portfolio management skills.
CFA Institute charges a one-time program registration fee of $450 and a standard registration fee of $1,000 for each exam. Early registrants pay $700 per exam.
The BLS listed the median salary for finance managers in 2020 as $134,180.
5. Registered Agent
Tax professionals may be interested in earning the Enrolled Agent (EA) qualification. The EA Credential, prepared by the IRS, identifies individuals who are qualified to represent US taxpayers in personal and business tax matters, such as collections and appeals. A certified EA typically has significant tax preparation experience for a variety of federal and state tax returns. The EA is the highest credential you can obtain through the IRS.
To become an EA, you must have worked for the IRS for at least five years interpreting tax law or pass the three-part Special Enrollment Exam (SEE).
You must also do the following:
- Obtain a creator tax identification number
- Pass a background check
- Adhere to ethical standards
- Complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years
Each portion of the SEE costs $185, and candidates must pay a $67 fee to apply for enrollment.
The National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) provides more information and training resources to become an EA.
Salary for EAs varies greatly by location in the US. According to LinkedIn Salary, the range is between $30,000 and $65,000.
Did you know?Like financial certifications,Marketing Certificationscan help professionals advance their marketing careers and show expertise.
Other finance and accounting certifications to consider
- Certified accountant:The Certified Bookkeeper (CB) certification comes from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. This certification can help you achieve more senior accountant positions.
- Institute of Internal Auditors certifications:The Institute of Internal Auditors is known for its Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification, but also offers Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) and Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) certification, among others.
- AICPA Certifications:In addition to providing information and resources for the CPA exam, theAICPA offers several certificationseinschließlich Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF), Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations (CEIV), Certified in the Valuation of Financial Instruments (CVFI) und Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). ) Bezeichnungen.
These are some notable higher and special certifications:
- Certified Chief Accountant (CCA)
- Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
- Certified Fraud Investigator (CFE)
- Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA)
- Master Analyst in Financial Forensics (MAFF)
Financial Certification Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about finance or accounting certifications.
What Are The Easiest And Hardest Accounting Certifications To Obtain?
All certifications presented here have strict requirements.
- CFA:The CFA designation requires a bachelor's degree (minimum) and four years of experience in addition to two exams. It takes an average of four or more years to complete the CFA program, with candidates completing more than 300 hours of study per exam level.
- CPA:Most CPAs have earned a bachelor's degree, and some are pursuing an MBA with an accounting specialization or a master's degree in accounting. The licensing exam varies by state, but typically takes two days to complete.
- CGFM and CMA:The CGFM and CMA designations require a bachelor's degree or accounting certificate and a minimum of two years of work experience in addition to passing three exams.
- EA:EA designation requires five years of experience or a passing score on the three-part SEE.
How long does it take to get an accounting certificate?
Depending on the certification, you should expect a study effort of 150 to 300 hours for the exam.
Which accounting certification is the most valuable?
Many people consider the CPA to be the most valuable certification due to its versatility and general demand from employers and clients (for CPA consultants). CGFM, CMA, and CFA certification holders and experienced CPAs have the highest earning potential, with salaries in excess of $100,000 that can easily rise to over $140,000 with experience.
Where can you find the right certification for you?
Certifications are typically associated with specializations in accounting and finance. When considering which certifications might be right for you, first consider what areas of finance and accounting interest you. Courses are available for all different certifications at colleges and other educational institutions.
What are the advantages of certification over non-certification?
Certifications indicate a high level of commitment and skill and help people expand their career opportunities in finance and accounting. Certifications can also lead to more internal promotions, as many professionals plateau professionally without their CPA certification. When a finance professional is certified, clients have more confidence in an institution or accounting firm's ability to manage their money.
Sean Peek contributed to the writing and research of this article.
Certified Public Accountant
The CPA license is the most popular accounting certification for accounting and finance roles in the United States. This designation validates your expertise in tax, compliance, risk management, forensic accounting and other areas.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) The CPA is probably the most recognizable of the accounting certifications out there. Certified public accountants help individuals and organizations plan and work toward financial goals. They can also act as advisors around financial concerns like accounting and taxes.What certifications pay the most for finance? ›
- The CPA designation is easily the most popular and universally recognized financial certification in the business. ...
- Salaries are also promising with CPAs making an average of $70k a year. ...
- Chartered Financial analysts are an essential part of modern business.
A CMA (certified management accountant) focuses on identifying business growth strategies based on their comprehensive financial analyses. This stands in contrast to a CPA (certified public accountant), a more general accounting designation that isn't as involved in management and strategy decisions.What are the top 5 careers in accounting? ›
- Auditor. ...
- Information and Technology Accountant. ...
- Senior Financial Analyst. ...
- Forensic Accountant. ...
- Managerial Accountant. ...
- Controller. ...
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
The CPA is great if you want to rise up the finance department at a corporate business and ultimately become the CFO, or if you want to rise up the ranks at a public accounting firm. The CFA credential, by contrast, is great if you want to work at a bank and, in particular, in investment management or equity research.Which accounting certification is easiest? ›
Which Accounting Certification is the Easiest to Get? All of these certifications are difficult to obtain, because they all of them have lengthy exams and qualifications that must be met in order to become certified. The certification with the shortest exam and least amount of requirements is the CIA designation.Is CPA easier than CFA? ›
As clearly seen in the passing rates CFA is more difficult in comparison to CPA. On an average about 50% of the registered candidates clear CPA exam whereas about 7% of the candidates clear all the 3 levels of CFA. In terms of course also, the course of CFA is much more lengthy and detailed in comparison to CPA.What is CFA Level 1 Expected salary? ›
In general, the average starting salary of a CFA is INR 6 to 8 lpa. With enough experience in wealth management and portfolio management, you may also become a Hedge Fund Manager which may help you earn a salary of INR 15 lpa.Which certifications are most in demand? ›
- Web Development Certification.
- Cloud Solutions Architect Certification.
- Salesforce Certification.
- Big Data Certification.
- Digital Marketing Certification.
- Cybersecurity Certification.
- RPA Certification.
- AI Certification.
Compared to the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), a Master of Business Administration (MBA) provides a broader overview of business principles. An MBA teaches students valuable analytical and leadership skills that prepare them for opportunities across a number of sectors and careers in finance.What are the 4 careers in accounting? ›
- Chartered management accountant (further training required)
- Cost accountant.
- Cost clerk.
- Cost controller.
- Finance manager.
- Financial analyst.
- Financial controller.
- Financial investment advisor.
- Public Accountant. ...
- Tax Accountant. ...
- Forensic Accountant. ...
- Financial Accountant. ...
- Managerial Accountant. ...
- Financial Planner. ...
- Internal Auditor. ...
- Government Accountant.
Generally speaking, people consider accounting majors to be more difficult to study and pass than finance majors. And there are a few different reasons for this. The content of accounting majors is, on average, much more technical than for finance majors, and this can make it more difficult.Should I get EA or CPA? ›
If you have accounting needs with a micro focus, working with an EA could be the perfect fit for you. On the other hand, if you are interested in accounting practices that have nothing to do with taxes, such as auditing, then the CPA option may be best.Which CPA is hardest? ›
Among the four sections, FAR has a reputation for being the hardest. It typically has the lowest pass rate. BEC is often thought to be the easiest. It has the highest pass rate.Should I take CMA or CPA? ›
The CPA is a U.S. license, while the CMA is a globally recognized certification. The CPA is most appropriate for professionals seeking to work in public accounting. Public accounting typically includes: Accounting and tax services.Can accountants make 6 figures? ›
A CPA salary usually reaches the high five figures, and senior CPAs in management can earn a six-figure salary.What is the highest paid in accounting? ›
Vice President of Finance
The highest paying accounting job is a company's Vice President of Finance. Of course, it takes many years of hard work to become a V.P. of Finance. Typically, a master's degree is also required. Vice Presidents of finance work alongside a company's president and/or chief executive officer.
CPA vs CFA Salary
ZipRecuiter states that CPAs make an average of $72k each year. However, those with more experience can end up making over $110k a year down the line. By contrast, CFAs make an average of $95k a year.
It depends on what you mean by “harder.” If CPA vs CFA difficulty is judged purely by the exam, then CFA is the harder qualification to achieve. However, if you're measuring by other requirements like application and education, particularly for candidates outside the US, CPA is more complicated.Who earns more CFA or MBA? ›
However, MBAs are better if we consider the growth factor. They can work in different categories other than their specialization. Therefore, in the beginning, the salary of an MBA is greater than CFA. On the other hand, CFA is a very specialized field.What is the lowest level accountant? ›
An entry-level accounting position, usually reporting to any of the higher level accounting positions, or in smaller companies, to the controller. They may or may not have a bachelor's degree, and their main responsibilities will usually include reconciling accounts and preparing preliminary reports.
- BOOKKEEPER. ...
- ACCOUNTS PAYABLE SPECIALIST. ...
- ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE CLERK. ...
- AUDITING CLERK. ...
- PAYROLL ADMINISTRATOR. ...
- ASSISTANT CONTROLLER.
The accounting pyramid organizes accounting-related job titles into a hierarchy that ranks them by responsibilities and deliverables, with bookkeepers at the bottom, accountants in the middle, and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at the top.Is CFA a forever? ›
CFA Program exam results do not expire, and you are not required to enroll each year. There is no limit to the amount of time you have to complete the CFA Program.Is CFA toughest exam? ›
In the world of finance, the chartered financial analyst (CFA) exam is one of the toughest entrance exams in the world.Why is becoming a CPA so hard? ›
What makes the CPA Exam so hard? The CPA Exam is so difficult because: It covers a wide variety of topics at different skill levels. It tests those topics using multiple question types, including some that simulate real-world tasks CPAs are expected to perform.Is CFA hard to pass? ›
Overall, the CFA exams are very difficult, but candidates can increase their chances of passing by studying for over 300 hours, utilizing alternative prep materials, answering as many practice questions as possible, and creating a structured study plan.Is hiring a CFA worth it? ›
You never know what future the markets might hold for you, so the CFA Program offers a good base of knowledge to get you on your way.” The general consensus of most CFA charterholders is that it has paid off in terms of career, knowledge, satisfaction, and end results.
You can't pass the CFA exams without any math. But the CFA Program might help you get better at it. Completing the CFA charter depends on how bad your math is, and how willing you are to work hard to improve it.What are fun certifications to get? ›
- Home staging certification. ...
- Sailing certification. ...
- Fitness instructor certification. ...
- Pyrotechnician certification. ...
- Active listening certification. ...
- Crop adviser. ...
- Bartending certification. ...
- Medical terminology certification.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
The Project Management Institute offers the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, which is aimed at advanced project managers. The certification exam tests your knowledge of project management fundamentals and the five main stages of a project's lifecycle.
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification.
- Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA) certification.
- Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designation.
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation.
Kelly & Company. “Those who know will delineate between the MBA and CFA and recognize that the CFA is much harder to earn.” “The CFA is at another level compared to the MBA,” says Harley Gorter, a charterholder who joined First Horizon Bank as Vice President Of Business Development in 2022.Is CFA stressful? ›
The course itself can often be stressful as it usually has to be undertaken in conjunction with full time work experience. On top of this, the CFA exams are widely considered to be some of the hardest in the world.Should I get CFA or CFP first? ›
It's more common for someone with a CFA charter to decide to sit for the CFP® exam, especially since CFP Board waives much of its education requirements for CFA charterholders. But, earning the CFP® mark first has worked well for some investment analysts with CFA charters as well.What job is higher than an accountant? ›
A controller, or comptroller, oversees the accounting operations of a firm, including managing staff. Because controllers' duties and responsibilities expand beyond that of an accountant, they typically command larger salaries.Is being a CPA worth it? ›
Accountants with a CPA certification advance to positions with more responsibility within one to two years and often are promoted to senior level positions within a few years after that. The sacrifice required to study for and pass your CPA examination is well worth the investment, immediately upon completion.What are the 7 most important fields of accounting? ›
- Financial accounting. Financial accounting is primarily concerned with the process of compiling information for financial reports for external reporting. ...
- Managerial accounting. ...
- Cost accounting. ...
- Auditing. ...
- Tax accounting. ...
- Accounting information systems. ...
- Forensic accounting. ...
- Public accounting.
- Public Accountants. Public Accountants often work in auditing, tax, and consultancy fields. ...
- Information Technology Auditors. ...
- External Auditors. ...
- Database Architect.
- Knowledge of Accounting Practices. ...
- Proficiency in Accounting Software. ...
- Ability to Prepare Financial Statements. ...
- Knowledge of General Business Practices. ...
- Ability to Analyze Data. ...
- Critical Thinking Skills.
Which qualification is harder, CIMA or ACCA? The CIMA qualification is more demanding, as it does not let you move forward until you pass one set of exams, compared with ACCA which allows you to study towards multiple sets of exams simultaneously.Is financial accounting a lot of math? ›
Accounting isn't hard-core math. It's basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Possibly some light, entry-level algebra, but that's it. You don't have to understand calculus.Is a finance degree math heavy? ›
While finance requires some mathematics training and some knowledge and skills in accounting and economics, it's not necessarily more difficult than any other field of study, particularly for people with an aptitude for math.Which is harder CPA or CMA? ›
CPA vs CMA Exam Difficulty
Historically, the CMA exam has a slightly lower pass rate of around 45% for Part 1, Part 2 combined, compared to close to 50% for the combined CPA exam. Candidates for the CMA have three years to pass both parts of the exam.
As per certain renowned universities, US CPA is considered to be more prestigious than ACCA as the entry requirement for CPA is equivalent to a master's degree with stringent work experience that needs to be showcased.Is a CPA better than a CA? ›
A CPA credential may assist you in obtaining a higher starting salary and can provide more career advancement opportunities. The national average salary of a Chartered Professional Accountant is $67,805 per year. This is significantly more than the national average salary of an accountant , who earns $54,004 per year.Is it worth getting a certificate in accounting? ›
Yes, an accounting certificate is worth it for many students. Accounting will always be necessary. Every business, organization, and nonprofit needs to manage their money and financial data. They need to maintain accurate records, comply with federal regulations, and make strategic financial decisions.Who earns more CPA or CMA? ›
Over the course of the career, the average salary of a CPA hovers around $120,000, while that of a CMA is around $100,000.
An Entry Level CMA with less than three years of experience earns an average salary of ₹8.3 Lakhs per year. A mid-career CMA with 4-9 years of experience earns an average salary of ₹18.7 Lakhs per year, while an experienced CMA with 10-20 years of experience earns an average salary of ₹5.7 Lakhs per year.Which CPA is easiest? ›
Either way, BEC is considered the easiest part of the CPA exam because it has the highest pass rate. The AICPA highlights one reason BEC is higher is because it is the section most commonly taken last, giving students more experience with test-taking after taking other sections.Is ACCA harder than CFA? ›
CFA Charter is much more difficult to attain as compared to ACCA Qualification, but it can be worth it. However, CFA is more suited for experienced finance professionals looking to specialize in a certain area.Is ACCA highly paid? ›
The highest-paying job at ACCA is a Business Relationship Manager with a salary of ₹17.4 Lakhs per year. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹46.1 lakhs per year. The top 1% earn more than a whopping ₹101 lakhs per year.Is CPA difficult to pass? ›
Passing the CPA exam is very important if one wishes to become a Certified Public Accountant. CPA is quite difficult but can readily be cracked with the right guidance and enrolling in the top CPA certification course. There are several reasons for the exam being rigorous and challenging.Who gets more salary CA or CPA? ›
The median salary for a CPA in the U.S. is $62,410 and in India ₹ 8–10 lakh per annum and the median salary for a CA in India is. 6.5 to 7.8 lakh per annum But, India only has a handful of the organization working under US accounting standards, hence the scope to get a good placement in India becomes a bit ambiguous.Why is CPA so tough? ›
The CPA Exam is so difficult because: It covers a wide variety of topics at different skill levels. It tests those topics using multiple question types, including some that simulate real-world tasks CPAs are expected to perform.Is a 2 year degree in accounting worth IT? ›
Yes, an Associates Degree in Accounting is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth in business and financial occupations for the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations.