Beyond a CPA—Accounting Credentials to Consider

Congratulations, you have earned your CPA certification! At this point you are well established as a professional in the accounting sphere. While earning one’s CPA license is a big deal, it is not necessarily the last certification that you should aim for. Beyond a CPA, there are many accounting credentials to consider pursuing to advance your career and develop your specialty. Some even require that you hold a CPA certification just to qualify to pursue the credential! 

Today we want to explore some of your options when it comes to advanced accounting certifications. But first, we want to take a moment to explain why pursuing these types of certifications is important. Earning advanced accounting certifications is helpful because they: 

  • Can lead to salary increases
  • Add value to your resume
  • Communicate your specialized knowledge, skills, and competencies
  • Help you develop credibility and trust
  • Differentiate you from your peers
  • Enhance your marketability and job security
  • Further the credibility of the organization for which you work

Read on to learn about some of the many accounting credentials that you might consider in order to reap the benefits listed above.

 Enrolled Agent (EA)

Enrolled Agents represent taxpayers before the IRS. To earn this credential, you must pass a three-part, comprehensive test that covers both individual and business tax returns. Alternatively, you can earn the certification by being a former IRS employee. The EA credential is the highest one that the IRS awards. To maintain your EA, you are required to complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years. Click here to learn more.


Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

The CGMA credential was launched in 2012 as a partnership between the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). The AICPA describes it as “the premier management accounting credential—distinguishing accounting professionals who have advanced proficiency in finance, operations, strategy and management.” To become a CGMA you must complete the CGMA Finance Leadership Program, pass the CGMA Exam, and attain three years of relevant experience.  Click here to learn more about earning the CGMA.


Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)

The CFF credential has been offered to members of the AICPA since 2018. It is a certification designed for accounting professionals who specialize in forensic accounting. To earn the designation, you must pass the CFF Exam, meet the minimum business experience and education requirements, and pay a credential fee. Recipients must regularly complete recertification to maintain their CFF. Click here to learn more.

Certified Value Analyst (CVA)

Awarded by the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA), CVA is the most widely recognized business valuation credential. Those who earn the designation are skilled in aiding clients with many types of business moves, including selling or merging an entity, transitioning ownership to family members or other partners, expanding, and more. To earn the designation, you must pass an exam and meet an experience threshold. The credential requires payment of an annual fee and tri-annual recertification. Click here to learn more.


Master Analyst in Financial Forensics (MAFF)

According to NACVA, those who earn the MAFF designation develop “an understanding of the professional responsibilities and legal underpinnings necessary to providing credible financial forensics services along with an overview of the highest growth areas of financial forensic practice.” Requirements include meeting experience prerequisites, becoming a member of NACVA, attending a foundational workshop, and passing the MAFF exam. The credential requires payment of an annual fee and tri-annual recertification. Click here to learn more.


Accredited in Business Appraisal Review (ABAR)

The ABAR credential is offered by NACVA to candidates who desire to develop advanced competency in the review of business appraisal reports. Requirements include NACVA membership, a four-year college degree, a professional valuation designation, completion of the ABAR workshop, professional references, successful completion of the ABAR exam, and successful completion of one business appraisal review report. This program is currently being evaluated for redesign but may be available again in the future. Click here to learn more.


Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

CMAs are experts in strategic financial management and financial planning, performance, and analytics. To earn the certification, you must hold an active membership with the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, have two years of work experience, and pass a two-part exam. To learn more, click here.


Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

Issued by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the CIA credential is a professional certification for internal auditing around the globe. To earn the designation, you must pass an exam. IIA members receive a 20% discount on application and registration fees. Click here to learn more about the CIA designation.


Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

The CISA designation is overseen and issued by ISACA (the Information Systems Audit and Control Association). It communicates a holder’s expertise in information systems process, governance and management of IT, information systems acquisition development and implementation, information systems operations and business resilience, and the protection of information assets. For certification, you must pass the CISA exam, have relevant fulltime work experience in the CISA practice areas, and pay an application processing fee. Click here to learn more about the CISA certification.


Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

 CFEs are knowledgeable in the four primary areas of fraud examination: financial transactions and fraud schemes, law, investigation, and fraud prevention and deterrence. To earn the designation, you must join the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) and the pass the CFE exam. Maintaining one’s CFE requires 20 hours of CPE each year and payment of annual membership dues. Click here to learn more.


Credit Business Associate (CBA)

Issued by the National Association of Credit Management (NCM), the CBA is for professionals who are well versed in basic financial accounting, financial statement analysis, and business credit principles. To qualify, candidates must submit an application, including a copy of their resume and their official college transcripts. Upon qualification, the candidate may sit for the CBA exam. NACM offers a discount on registration and application fees for members. Click here to learn more about the CBA credential.

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