There are a number of certifications that are important in various careers. These certifications help to establish the competence of those who achieve them. Usually certification requires passing one or more examinations on various topics such as investments, accounting theory, accounting practice, taxation, and ethics.
Certifications that require state licensing, such as certification for Certified Public Accountants, are mandated by law before someone may perform certain services, such as auditing. In this case, third parties such as investors and lenders can rely on financial statements that have been audited by the CPA. The states require that only those licensed as CPAs may perform this service. Typically students prepare for certification examinations by taking a specialized review accounting course.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Certified Public Accountants are licensed by each state through the state board of public accountancy. Each CPA must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accounting Examination and meet the specific requirements of his or her state regarding education and experience. Only licensed CPAs may provide attestation or auditing opinions on financial statements in most states; however, some allow non-CPAs to audit financials.
The CPA Exam is a computer-based test that takes two days to complete. The topics include Business Law, Auditing, Accounting, and Reporting for Taxation, Managerial, Governmental, and Not-for-Profits, and Financial Accounting and Reporting for Business Enterprises. CPAs must also meet continuing professional education requirements each year. Review accounting courses are available in classroom settings, as self-study, or online. Each student should select the type of review accounting course that is most effective for his or her preferred learning style.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation is awarded by five professional organizations from various nations around the world. In the United States of America, the Institute of Management Accountants offers the CMA to those who meet the required education and testing criteria. The CMA exam is a computer-based test that is offered in three testing windows per year. The topics covered include financial planning, performance, and control, as well as financial decision-making. An accounting course that reviews this material is available in classroom, self-study, or via online formats.
Certified Fraud Examiner
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners website, “The Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence. CFEs are trained to identify the warning signs and red flags that indicate evidence of fraud and fraud risk. CFEs around the world help protect the global economy by uncovering fraud and implementing processes to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.
Setting High Standards for the Anti-Fraud Profession
To become a CFE, an individual must pass a rigorous test on the four major disciplines that comprise the fraud examination body of knowledge:
- Fraud Prevention and Deterrence
- Fraudulent Financial Transactions
- Fraud Investigation
- Legal Elements of Fraud”
The website also links to an accounting course, the “CFE Exam Prep Course.”
Certification is generally an indication of a higher level of competence and expertise in a given field. Typically employers are willing to pay more to those who are certified than to those who are not. In some financial careers certification is required before a person is hired, or within a year or two of the time the employee was hired. For example, people who wish to practice public accounting, especially the attestation function, can be hired straight out of college without having passed the CPA Examination or meeting the requirements to become a CPA. However, in order to advance in the CPA firm, the employee will need to study for and pass the exam within a few years.