Best Accounting Certifications and Most Common Questions

Getting accounting certifications in finance and accounting will make sure that your employer knows that you have put important time and resources into scaling your skills and knowledge. As the world is coming closer each day, more and more people can access colleges and universities.

Today everyone has a bachelor’s degree in something. In addition to this, master’s degrees have also become common and almost everyone has one. However, when it comes to earning a certificate, not everyone sees the actual potential they hold.

By completing finance and accounting courses and getting an accounting certification you can actually show it off to your employer and let them know about your qualifications. Once you have earned a certificate, you will also be able to increase your earnings, reputation, as well as, job prospects because having a certification will distinguish you from other job candidates.

But people often ask themselves “what are some best accounting certifications that I shall take”. Well to address your issue, we have brought to you a list of the best available courses you can take in Accounting and Finance.


What are some of the best accounting certifications?

We have gathered a list of certificates that will help you excel in your career as an accountant & finance executive. These are a few of the most important courses that are both difficult and hold the most important values in an accountant’s career. So, without any further delay let’s see what are some of the best accounting certificates?

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification

This is the gold standard for auditing and accounting profession. It is one of the most important accounting certificates for anyone who is looking to illustrate a career in accounts & finance. You can also say that having a CPA certificate is a “must” in the accounting and finance sector.

Being important is not the only thing, in some states, it is also necessary for Accountants to have a CPA certificate before practicing accounting.

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)

CIMA is one of the most popular and hardest accountant certification on the planet. Only the top accountants working in the top companies have been able to complete the exam and earn the certificate. This is preferred for those who want to establish a career in management accounting or cost accounting.

Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) designation

The chartered certified accountant (ACCA) is designed to focus on different topics and skills of the person. These areas are financial management, leadership, reporting, ethics, taxation, and auditing.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation

A certified financial planner (CFP) is a globally recognized certificate that focuses on financial planning and the sales market. This is one of the best available courses for someone who wants to pursue a career in investment as well as wealth management.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA®) certification

This accounting certification is focused on different segments & skills of accountants and teaches them the mix of financial accounting and strategic management. The course and certificate are offered by the Institute of Management Accountants.

Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA®) designation

The certificate focuses on an Accountant’s ability to make alternative investments. For accountants who want to pursue a career in investment management, this is an important certificate to earn.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation

The CFA certificate is well recognized by the world among finance certifications and also important for those who are looking for a career in analytics. However, getting the certificate is not an easy task and the passing rates are very low. The certificate focuses on portfolio management, economics, quantitative methods, ethics, derivations, financial reporting, analysis, and alternative investments.

Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) designation

The certificate is awarded by The American College of Financial Services. It was initially designed for replacing as well as being an alternative of CFP designation. However, it is not as popular as the CFP certificate. To earn this certificate, you will need to complete eight courses as well as exams.

Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA®) designation

The certificate is offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. It initially focuses on management accounting, reporting, financial, and strategy. To earn it you will need to complete three levels. Every single level will be consisting of three courses, each having its own exam.

What certificates do accountants need?

Now when you have seen what are the best accounting certifications there are for accountants. Are you wondering if taking all of these courses is the only way you can succeed as an accountant? Well, the answer is “Nah”.

Taking these courses and certifications is your choice. However, getting some of these will surely help you in the long run. But there are a few courses that you are going to need to get a job in a successful firm. Following are some of the best available accounting certificates that you are going to need.

  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)

These four are some of the most essential certificates in an accountant’s career. By earning these certificates, you will surely be able to crack a job in one of the important firms. However, it is not advisable that you pursue all of these certifications. You can successfully build your career even with one of these prestigious accounting certifications.

In fact one of these is purely focused on internal audit function but it is listed among accounting certifications because almost all auditors have some accounting certifications or education.

What are the hardest Accountant qualifications?

When it comes to hardness, none of the above-mentioned courses are easy. Every course comes with its own difficulty and difference at every level. However, if you still want to know what is the one course that is the hardest accountant qualification and change your career for good. Well, that is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

Being one of the most popular qualifications for an accountant it is also the hardest to earn. However, there are many benefits of earning this certificate that is going to help you in the long run.

Benefits of taking Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) certification

  • Both an employer as well as the employee get benefits from having a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) fellow.
  • You will be able to build both skills and knowledge using the best key practices, control framework, performance metric, stakeholder management.
  • Once you have gained the certificate you will be able to create a much more dynamic as well as flexible work output. In addition to this, the shifting process between different sections of the company including HR, IT, Finance will be easier.
  • The certificate will also ensure that you know how to better understand your customer and provide him/her with the best possible product or services. This is important since customer/client satisfaction is one of the most important things to achieve.
  • It will also help you to retain your existing talent and work around it to build newer skills.

What comes in Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) certification exam

There are four parts to the CIMA certification exam.

  • BA1 Fundamentals of Business Economics
  • BA2 Fundamentals of Management Accounting
  • BA3 Fundamentals of Financial Accounting
  • BA4 Fundamentals of Ethics, Corporate Governance, and Business Law

Each of the sections will teach and test your different sets of skills based on current industry requirements. Your ethics, knowledge regarding the legal system, taxation, customer satisfaction, company administration, management accounting’s context, and many other areas will be tested.

This might overwhelm you, however, being one of the hardest and popular accounting certifications, it will take your career to whole new levels.

What is the easiest account certification?

People often get confused between choosing CPA and CIA certification. Well, if you are thinking about choosing the easier one between these two courses then going for the CIA will be the best for you.

Being one of the easiest certifications to earn, the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) is the minimum certificate an accountant needs to have if you aspire to a career as an internal auditor. The reason behind this is because when you take the CIA exam it will focus on one main internal aspect of accounting.

Whereas CPA will focus on 4 major aspects. However, as you pass more exams and earn more certificates you will find that gaining more certificates that focus on more than 1 aspect of Accounting and Finance is helping you more in learning.

Benefits of taking CIA certificate exam

Apart from being one of the easiest exams for Accountants CIA certification has many benefits. By earning this certificate, you will be put much closer with the industry’s experts using best practices. Once you have earned the certificate you will be able to build trust among your peers as well as clients.

  • A CIA certified accountant earns over 51% more annually than a non-certified accountant.
  • The average salary of a CIA certified accountant in the USA is on average $38,000 per year.

What comes in Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exams?

The exam comes in three parts.

  • The first part consists of 125 questions called Essentials of Internal Auditing.
  • The second part has 100 questions and is called Practice of Internal Auditing.
  • The third and last part of your CIA exam will have 100 questions and will be called Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing.

How can I become an Accountant without a degree?

Short answer is that it is impossible to get a reasonable accounting job without a degree or accounting certification. There was a time when having a degree in anything including engineering, Accounts, or even languages like Hindi or English meant you would get hired in a company.

However, that is not the case today, nowadays everyone has a degree in some or other fields. What actually matters is if you have the knowledge and qualifications to complete the job that you are going to get.

A degree in accounting will provide you with foundational knowledge whereas some finance certifications will test and help you learn practical knowledge. Where some students still prefer to study at a university and get a degree while others focus on real-life talent. Both have their perks and as long as you are learning none has a con.

How long you have to attend college for being an Accountant

Depending upon your dedication and given the fact that you won’t fail in any year, to earn a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Financial it will take a minimum of 4 years. However, you can also take an associate degree by taking a 2 years long course.

After completing your basic degree in accounting, you will be able to do an MBA which will take about 2 years to complete.

Can you become an accountant without a university degree?

If you are thinking about becoming an Accountant but do not have a university degree in your hand, you can still become an Accountant as well as excel in your career. This is possible because many of the positions in the accounting field do not require an accounting degree. Even if you apply for a job as an auditing clerk, as well as, accounting clerk’s position, not having a degree will not be a problem.

However, you will be required to have a high school degree, a bachelor’s degree, and basic knowledge of maths and computers. With these four qualifications, you will be able to get an entry-level job in any field. However, obtaining important accounting certifications that I have mentioned earlier will also help you gain the trust of the employer, skills, and knowledge of the field.

  • Once you apply for a job you will be selected for a 6-month training period and later will be hired full time. This is the common selection process in most companies.
  • You can also become a chartered accountant without a university degree by clearing the Chartered Certified Accountant designation ACCA certificate. However, remember to get your ACCA certification with GCSEs as well as Grade A.

Do you need a CPA certificate to become an accountant?

Having a CPA certification is not necessary to become an accountant. However, it will surely help you to get a job easily as well as get promoted in the field. Having a CPA certificate will show that you have both the skills as well as the knowledge to become an accountant.

In many states, it is mandatory to possess a CPA certifications to become an external auditor.

Are you going to need an accounting degree to pass the CPA exam?

Well, the answer is no. Most nations and states require you to have an accounting degree to take and pass the CPA exam. However, there are other ways that can be taken to earn an accounting degree to take. They are tough but are available. You will have to complete the following steps:

  • Earn minimum numbers of accounting credits.         
  • Take additional accounting courses and certificates to ensure your entrance.
  • You will also be required to complete the experience requirement.

For different nations and states, these requirements are different. You can consult with your state’s counselor for the exact information.  

Benefits of taking a CPA certificate and is it worth taking?

Being one of the highest standards of competence in the field of accountancy across the globe, CPA is recognized by every single company. Once you have completed the course and got a CPA certificate, you will be able to get a job in any company. For someone who is inspired to become an accountant as well as looking to illustrious career then getting a CPA, the certificate is the way to go. A CPA certificate is definitely worth it.

Do you need a CPA certificate to become an accountant?

For those who want to become a professional Accountants getting a CPA certificate is important as well as the best available option.

How long does it take to become CPA certified?

It takes about 2 to 4 years to complete and pass the CPA exam and certificate.

How to Become a Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Being a CMA will also help you during your years-long career as an accountant. However, there are some things that you will need to take care of. So, without any delay let’s look at what are the following things that you will need to become a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

  • You are required to have an IMA membership to take the exam for CMA.
  • Other than this, you must also commit to abide by IMA’s Statement of Ethical professional practice.
  • You will have to take and pass both exam 1 as well as exam 2 of the CMA certificate exam.  
  • You are also required to have at least 2 years long continuous professional experience in management accounting or financial management.
  • Having a bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance will also help you during the process.

If you are meeting the above-mentioned criteria then all you will be required to do is

  • Enroll in a CMA program
  • Register for the certificate exam
  • Take and pass the exam

After taking this exam and earning the certificate you will become a certified management accountant (CMA).

As you can see, if you are aspiring to become an auditor or an accountant, you have many options. We have listed the best accounting certifications, and it depends on you which specialization of accounting career you want to pursue. There is a certification for that. If you want to specialize in information systems auditing, then CISA certification is your way to go.

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