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 certified areas.
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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.