Which Accounting Certification Is Best For Me?

The most important factor in choosing your professional certification is which certification will help YOU accomplish YOUR career goals. To get the right certification, you need to ask yourself:

  • What do you want to be doing in the future?
  • If you are an internal auditor now, do you want to be the chief audit executive in 10 years?
  • If you are in the accounting department now, do you want to be a finance director in 5 years?
  • Or maybe, instead of dreaming about having a high position in a large company, you want to start your business in 3 years and be your own boss?

There are a few well-known international certifications that will provide broad benefits to you by opening the doors for you in a number of industries and professions.

CMA (Certified Management Accountant) – this is the certification that is often the most useful certification for someone who is not certain about where specifically they want to be in five years but knows that they want to be in the area of accounting or finance or in a management level position in a company. The CMA syllabus is based on how a business operates and the decisions that a manager in a business needs to make. The CMA content helps an individual know much more about the operations of the business, and the needs of the decision-makers in the business. This understanding of how management operates a business will ultimately help an individual add value to the business. And it will not limit you to only accounting, or only finance, because the syllabus covers many of the areas of a business’s operations in its syllabus. Sign up for the CMA Exam free trial. 

CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) – if you want to work as an internal auditor, you absolutely should become a CIA. There is no doubt about this. Sign up for the CIA Exam free trial. 

CPA (Certified Public Accountant) – if you want to work for an external audit firm, or in high positions in the finance function of a large multinational, you may need to be a CPA. However, if your education is outside of the United States, it is very possible that you will not meet the eligibility requirements for CPA. Before you invest any time or money into preparing for CPA, please be certain that you will be eligible for BOTH taking the exam, AND getting your CPA license.

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) – is very similar to CPA in who it is for, but it has easier eligibility requirements. It also, unfortunately, has many more exams that you either need to be exempt from or pass. It is possible that you will need to spend years passing your ACCA Exams.

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) – if you want to work in investment banking, you should become a CFA.

CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst) – one of the leading management accounting certifications. Unfortunately, like ACCA, it has a large number of exams that you either need to be exempt from, or you need to pass.

The key is to choose the right certification for you. That certification is the one that will help YOU achieve YOUR career goals. That large, positive return on the investment from your certification comes only if it provides value to you by preparing you for what you want to do in the future! And remember, the sooner you get your professional certification, the sooner you will be able to start collecting all of the benefits that come with being certified.


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