34 Professional Certifications You Can Get in Accounting, Tax, Audit, and More

While the Certified Public Accountant will always be the Holy Grail of certifications in our profession, there is no shortage of additional certifications you can reach for. This blog post is my attempt to list them all in one place so you can choose wisely about the best way to spend your study time.

Certifications help to assure clients of a level of expertise achieved in a certain area. They build credibility, some more than others of course. They also provide accountants with a structure approach to building expertise in a particular area.

There are many categories of certifications, and for this article, we’ll focus on two major categories: certifications that demonstrate core technical accounting, audit, or tax expertise, and certifications that demonstrate specialized knowledge in accounting, tax, and finance.

General certifications for technical accounting knowledge

1. Certified Public Accountant
We simply have to start with the CPA. The CPA is not only a certification with a grueling exam, college hours, experience, ethics, and a stringent application process, it’s in effect a state license too. Each state in the US has rules on how a CPA can maintain their license to practice with the state’s governing body.

Each CPA firm also requires a firm license along with peer review requirements.

California: http://www.dca.ca.gov/cba/applicants/index.shtml

Illinois: https://www.ilboe.org/

New York: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/cpa/cpalic.htm

Texas: https://www.tsbpa.texas.gov/examindex.html

I’m guessing there are about half a million CPAs in the U.S.

Outside the U.S., there are equivalent designations. For example, in Canada, CPA stands for Chartered Professional Accountant, and in the UK and Australia, it’s CA: Chartered Accountant.

2. Certified Management Accountant
The CMA is a certification most often earned by professional working in industry or government. It’s administered by the Institute of Management Accountants, who has more than 100,000 members worldwide.


3. Chartered Global Management Accountant

CGMA is a management accounting designation with more than 150,000 designees worldwide. It can be earned through the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).


4. Certified Bookkeeper
CB is offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.  It’s a really great way to distinguish yourself from other bookkeepers.


5. Certified Internal Auditor

The Institute of Internal Auditors is well known for its Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification, but it also has several other certifications for auditors to earn: CGAP – 6. Certified Government Auditing Professional, CFSA – 7. Certified Financial Services Auditor, CCSA – 8. Certification in Control Self-Assessment, CRMA – 9. Certification in Risk Management Assurance, QIAL – 10. Qualification in Internal Audit Leadership, and BEAC – 11. Certifications for Environmental, Health, and Safety Auditors.


12. Enrolled Agent

The EA is a great designation for serious US tax professionals. It’s administered by the IRS.


Specialized professional certifications

13. Certified Financial Planner

CFPs have knowledge in budgeting, planning for retirement, saving for education, managing taxes and insurance coverage, and investing.


14. Personal Financial Specialist

The AICPA offers a personal financial planning credential which demonstrates your expertise and financial planning insight to prospective clients and employers.


15. Chartered Financial Analyst

The CFA credential is held by over 150,000 professionals around the world. The charter gives a strong understanding of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills. https://www.cfainstitute.org/

16. Certified Fraud Examiner

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, with nearly 850,000 members, offers the CFE, a credential that demonstrates expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence.


17. Certified in Financial Forensics 

The AICPA offers the CFF which measures forensic accounting skills in bankruptcy, insolvency and reorganization; computer forensic analysis; economic damages calculations; fraud prevention; and valuations.


18. Accredited Senior Appraiser

The ASA credential demonstrates expertise in valuation and is offered by the American Society of Appraisers.


19. Accredited in Business Valuation

The AICPA offers the ABV designation for business valuation professionals.


20. Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations™

The CEIV is offered by the AICPA for professionals involved in fair value measurements.


21. Certified Valuation Analyst and Accredited Valuation Analyst

The CVA and AVA credentials are offered by the National Association of Valuation Analysts.


22. Certified Information Technology Professional

The CITP is offered by the AICPA to information technology consultants and experts.


23. Certified Information Systems Auditor

ISACA (which now only goes by the acronym that previously stood for Information Systems Audit and Control Association) offers the CISA as well as several other certifications:  24. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), 25. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), 26. Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT), and 27. Cybersecurity Nexus – CSX Certificate and CSXP Certification.


28. Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis

Once you’re a CMA, you can reach for the specialty designation, CSCA, Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis.  https://www.imanet.org/csca-credential

29. Registered Social Security Analyst

The RSSA is offered by the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts for professionals who help clients optimize their social security benefits and retirement cash flow.


30. Certified Business Profit Consultant

The CBPC is offered by my company (Sandra L. Leyva, Inc.).  It provides basic training and tools in four advisory areas: revenue growth, cash flow, profitability, and pricing, and it’s designed for the small firm owner who wants to take the first step to adding a service line beyond compliance work to their business.


31. Certified Profit First Professional

The Profit First Professionals organization offers the CPFC. It’s training and a methodology that you license to use with your clients.


32. Certified Tax Coach

Certified Tax Coach, LLC, a non-profit organization, provides training and certification to become a CTC. There is a a licensing requirement which includes active licensure as a CPA, EA, or attorney in good standing.

Two more certifications you can get after CTC include Certified Tax Planner (3 years active practice as a planner and tax planning experience requirement) and Certified Tax Strategist (3 years active practice as a planner and tax planning experience requirement).


33. Certified Tax Representation Consultant

Tax Rep, LLC offers this certification which focuses on the area of tax resolution expertise. It requires 20 hours of self-study, a CPA, EA, or attorney in good standing, and a re-certification every three years.


34. Fundamental Payroll Certification

The American Payroll Association offers the FPC for payroll beginners and service and support professionals in positions requiring payroll knowledge.


35. Certified Payroll Professional

The American Payroll Association also offers the CPP, which requires payroll experience, an exam, and a rigorous application process.


As you can see, it would be quite ambitious to earn all 34 designations.  The hardest part is to choose the ones that you feel will give you the skills you need as well as a satisfying career.

If you know of any certifications that should be added to the above list, please leave a comment below.