5 Reasons Why CPAs Should Branch Out With Specialty Certifications

After making it official by becoming a CPA, you’ll be ready to begin your accounting career. As a CPA, you’ll receive licensing from state governments, which will give you the authority to write audit reports and provide guidance to companies that trade publicly. But beyond that, the great thing about becoming a CPA is that you can expand your practice and service offerings by branching out with specialty certifications. Continuing education comes with many benefits. Here are five reasons why you should earn additional certifications.

1. Expand Your List of Services

You’ll be able to offer more to your clients. For instance, CPAs are well positioned to help in financial fraud investigations. For this, you’ll likely want to obtain a Certified Fraud Examiner, or CFE, title. This Continuing Professional Education program will ensure that you have the training to investigate financial transaction fraud. You can also extend out into fraud prevention.

As another example, a CPA is eligible to represent people in IRS cases. This involved assisting taxpayers that either owe money to the IRS, are being audited on a tax return, or that have some other tax problem with the government. To receive comprehensive training in this field, you’ll want to complete a tax resolution training course such as the Certified Taxpayer Representative, or CTR, program. This program requires completion of 120 hours of course work, a hands on practicum, and passing an written exam.

2. Move into Management

Management comes with many opportunities. When you become a Certified Management Accountant, or CMA, you’ll have the training to be an accounting manager in a business organization. This will help you advance your career if you decide to work for a company instead of going into self-employment. As a CMA, you’ll be ready for internal management as well as for executive-level positions.

CMAs are often promoted to COOs or CFOs, so if you have your eye on becoming an executive in a Fortune 500 company, then be sure to take the CMA exam. It’s about half as long as the one you’ll take to get your CPA. The Institute of Management Accountants administers the test. To be eligible to take it, you’ll need to:

  • Earn your bachelor’s degree or have equivalent education
  • Have two years of experience working as a CMA
  • Apply for an Institute of Management Accountants membership

3. Increase Your Employable Skills

Additional certifications increase your employable skills. For example, consider getting a Certified Internal Auditor, or CIA, title. This designation is for CPAs who are auditors or compliance officers. If you become a CIA, then you can expect to work for a major corporation, one that needs you to complete auditing services and help independent auditors perform their jobs well. To earn this certification, plan to take the exam.

Additional certifications can give you peace of mind as they’ll give you options. With them, it may be easier to start your own firm or work for a company. You never know when you might need to head in a different work direction.

CPA Specialty Certifications

4. Earn a Comfortable Salary

The right certifications will allow you to work in the finance sector, a field that tends to be a high-paying one. If you intend to focus your career in finance and investments, then you’ll need the Chartered Financial Analyst, or CFA, designation after your name. While you can work in other areas, many CFAs seek jobs on Wall Street or for hedge fund investment firms.

When you train to become a CFA, you’ll learn how to think methodically about investing, finance and business operations. This means that you’ll gain the skills to become a top controller or a CFO. The CFA exam is available to be taken only once or twice a year, depending on the level that interests you. The total time to take the exam is longer than the one to become a CPA. It also costs more.

CPE can include getting your Chartered Global Management Accountant, or CGMA, certification. This certification program was created in 2012 and was established as an affiliation between the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or AICPA, and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

According to the AICPA, the CGMA is one of the best management accounting certifications that you can get if you have an interest in finance as well as an inclination toward management and operations. For this level of certification, you’ll need to complete the leadership program, and like the other certifications, you must pass another exam. To receive the designation, you’ll also need three years of relevant experience.

5. Continue Learning

When you obtain additional certifications, you’ll be more likely to maintain your work passion. More certifications allow you to expand your practice into new areas, which will surely increase your excitement about your career. For instance, you can become a Certified Value Analyst or CVA.

As a CVA, you’ll be prepared to help clients with their business ventures. You’ll have the knowledge to feel comfortable advising them about selling a company or merging with another business. You can also help your clients transfer the ownership of their business to a family member or a business partner.

To become a CVA, you’ll need to pass a test and have the proper amount of experience. You’ll need to renew your CVA certification every year, but the added expense is likely to be worth the higher income potential.

When you earn additional certifications, you can expand your practice and customize your list of services. For solo practitioners and owners of small firms in particular, obtaining tax resolution training will increase your skills even more and give you another way to grow your income.

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