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Career Designations for Accounting Professionals

Accounting is a field where there are many opportunities to work in different areas and with different career designations. Once completing these programs successfully, list the designation on your resume and LinkedIn profile for hiring managers and recruiters to notice your level of expertise. Here are some common career designations for accounting professionals:

Accredited Estate Planner (AEP)

An Accredited Estate Planner (AEP) is an accountant who specializes in estate planning. The AEP designation is granted by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, which is recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to award designations that qualify candidates for federal tax return preparer status, if they meet other criteria (including passing a test).

With this designation under your belt, you can add “Accredited Estate Planner” to your business card and website banner or bio. You’ll also be eligible for membership in NAEPC’s community of accountants with particular experience and expertise in estate planning issues.

Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP)

Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP)  are people who have completed the requirements to become an Accredited Tax Preparer and meet the qualifications for their area of specialization. An ATP has passed a certification exam and is qualified to prepare returns that can be filed electronically with the IRS. The designation can only be used when preparing taxes for clients who are not CPAs or enrolled agents, but you may use it in conjunction with other designations, including EA and EA-CA. ATPs must complete continuing education requirements every three years to maintain their status as an activated member of the AICPA.

Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)

The Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) designation is a professional credential that verifies an accountant’s knowledge, skills and experience in forensic accounting. Forensic accountants are CPA or other accounting professionals who specialize in investigating fraud and embezzlement, as well as other financial crimes. Forensic accountants help companies and individuals recover from fraud by providing guidance for civil litigation or criminal proceedings. They also provide expert testimony in court cases related to fraud, embezzlement or other financial crimes.

To become a CFF®, you must pass the CFF exam offered by the AICPA QAS organization. This exam measures your ability to apply knowledge of financial statement analysis; identify sophisticated schemes; recognize fraudulent transactions; evaluate evidence of deception; and perform fact-based research or analysis of transactions or situations involving potential misconduct.

Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

What is the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designation? The CFE credential is awarded by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), a nonprofit organization that promotes professional standards in fraud prevention and detection. It is not a license, but it is a professional designation that can help you advance your career in accounting.

The CFE credential demonstrates knowledge of fraud examination concepts and methods as well as practical skills necessary for conducting fraud investigations. You must meet eligibility requirements, pass an exam and complete continuing education credits to maintain your certification.

Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)

The Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) designation is a professional certification that recognizes auditors who specialize in government auditing. CGAPs are trained to look for fraud and waste in government agencies, which can be especially important because of budget cuts across the country.

CGAPs work with the Federal Audit Clearinghouse, which is a network of auditors who audit federal agencies. The Federal Audit Clearinghouse was created by Congress in 1990 as part of the Chief Financial Officers Act and allows its members to share information about their audits and exchange ideas about best practices for conducting audits on behalf of taxpayers.

The CGA program gives aspiring CGAPs insight into how to conduct meaningful financial or performance audits on behalf of taxpayers by providing them with advanced training on developing reports based on analytical research findings and making sound recommendations based upon those findings

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation is a professional designation awarded by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). The IIA is an international organization founded in 1962 that provides education, resources and certification for internal auditors worldwide. The CIA certification indicates extensive knowledge and experience with internal audit practices and procedures, as well as a commitment to continuous learning through ongoing professional development.

To become a CIA, individuals must first meet certain eligibility requirements outlined by the IIA. Candidates must have at least three years of full-time work experience or be enrolled in an approved undergraduate or graduate degree program leading to such employment. In addition to meeting these requirements, candidates must also pass two exams: one covering foundation knowledge for all levels of certification; another covering specialized knowledge specific to the CIA level being sought.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a professional designation awarded by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). It’s globally recognized and demonstrates advanced knowledge and skills in management accounting.

To become a CMA, you must have at least three years of full-time experience working in a management accounting role, or two years of part-time experience working with budgets, forecasts and other financial information.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a licensed title held by accounting professionals who have met certain education and experience requirements in the United States, Canada, and many other countries. This professional designation demonstrates that you have met the rigorous standards of your state’s CPA examiners board, which means you can practice as an independent accountant with no supervision or restrictions on your work.

Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)

The Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) designation is a professional credential that verifies an accountant’s knowledge, skills and experience in forensic accounting. Forensic accountants are CPA or other accounting professionals who specialize in investigating fraud and embezzlement, as well as other financial crimes. Forensic accountants help companies and individuals recover from fraud by providing guidance for civil litigation or criminal proceedings. They also provide expert testimony in court cases related to fraud, embezzlement or other financial crimes.

To become a CFF®, you must pass the CFF exam offered by the AICPA QAS organization. This exam measures your ability to apply knowledge of financial statement analysis; identify sophisticated schemes; recognize fraudulent transactions; evaluate evidence of deception; and perform fact-based research or analysis of transactions or situations involving potential misconduct.

Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation is an international professional designation that is recognized in over 100 countries. It is administered by the CGMA Board of Examiners, which is responsible for setting standards of education and experience that enable candidates to qualify for the CGMA designation. The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) program provides a framework for individuals who wish to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge, skills, and abilities as a professional accountant.

Chartered Global Management Accountants are members of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). As part of their practice, they must adhere to ethical expectations set forth by both IFAC and national regulators where they practice.

Enrolled Agent (EA)

The Enrolled Agent (EA) designation is a tax certification that’s earned through the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s considered one of the most prestigious designations in the accounting industry, and it can help you stand out from your peers when applying for jobs or promotions.

A person who holds this designation is authorized to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS—from local offices up through national headquarters—in all matters as they relate to federal income taxes and other tax matters such as estate and gift taxes, employment taxes, excise taxes, alternative minimum taxes and corporate excise taxes.

As an accounting professional, you have many career options. You may have a bachelor’s degree in accounting and are looking to move into management roles. Or perhaps you’re a CPA who wants to become a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). Whatever the reason, having additional training can help you advance your career.

If you need any assistance with navigating your career, contact us for a customized approach to your needs. 

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