Accounting certifications….to be or not to be

So it is my first day back at work after seven weeks of being on maternity leave (we had a beautiful baby boy, Elijah, our third!) and it hits me…what’s next in terms of accounting related professional certifications? I had recently attained the certified fraud examiner (CFE) certification, not so much for career advancement or to increase my ‘promotability’ but with the motive of learning and understanding more about fraud in general (investigations, law, discovery, etc). I added this certification in addition to already being a CPA and a CIA.

I obtained the CPA certification a couple of years after graduating from college and by no means at that point felt qualified as a CPA. Similarly, with the CIA designation, I obtained it about two years into being an internal auditor. I now have over ten years of work experience as a CPA in public accounting and currently as an internal auditor in the nonprofit industry and I do feel somewhat qualified as a CPA and a CIA. In time, I hope to feel the same way about the CFE certification.

The question now is do I need another certification? Why would I or wouldn’t I want to keep adding acronyms behind my name, which to most people, are cryptic and don’t mean much.

I was having a conversation with my boss about the recent IIA announcement that they will soon launch the Certification of Risk Management Assurance (CRMA). Per the IIA, this certification will ‘allow audit practitioners to demonstrate their ability to provide advice and assurance to audit committees and executive management on whether key risk management and governance processes in their organizations are in place and effective’. Per the announcement, ‘there were opportunities for qualified individuals with knowledge and experience in risk management assurance can begin applying for the CRMA prior to the exam launch exam through a “professional experience recognition” process’. This would mean effectively that some people could attain the certification without taking an exam! I am all for that!

My boss impressively has six certifications behind her name. She is a CPA, CIA, CFE, CCEP, CICP, and CISA. Additionally, she is the current president of our local IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors) chapter.  So for purposes of this blog, I figured that she would have good input into the value and importance of certifications, at least from the ‘pro’ perspective of having certifications. Here is her take:


  • There are accounting certifications like the certified public accountant (CPA) or the chartered accountant (CA) that represent a broad knowledge base and then there are certifications that represent a specialization within the field of accounting such as fraud (CFE), internal auditing (CIA), management accounting (CMA) and financial accounting (CFA)
  • Obtaining a certification is demonstration of a commitment to the profession
  • Many certifications require successful completion of a test covering a baseline level of knowledge and a requirement of continuing education for the relevant area of specialization
  • Certifications are typically representative of a consistent and common set of standards, a code of ethics and a framework that is recognized in industry
  • Certifications and the sponsoring organizations of the certifications connect professionals to a cadre of peer and expert practitioners for sharing of emerging trends and best practices
  • Certifications specific to relevant areas of specialization are viewed favorably by employers

Here is a link to a good article that describes the various accounting certifications.

So what’s next for me? I will tell you once I decide what I want to be when I grow up! In the meantime, I think I will give my business card a rest and focus on becoming more fully what I already claim to be.


3 Responses to “Accounting certifications….to be or not to be”

  1. December 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Hi WV US Arms! Greetings from India! I am currently part of WV India positioned as Internal Audit Manager. As a accounting/auditing professional, I can relate to the above points personally. Having Chartered Accountancy credential and Certified Internal Auditor certification in my kitty, I too have the dilemma in selecting the next certification to be pursued in my life.

    And, many congratulations on clearing the CFE examination. Hope you will purse CISA next.

  2. March 17, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Elaine! I just came across a certification titled “Certified Forensic Accountant” offered by the ‘American College of Forensic Examiners International’ (ACFEI). Is it globally recognized and valued as equivalent to the “Certified Fraud Examiner” offered by ACFE? Could you kindly throw some more light on this certification? I wish to know more about the same. Thanks for your assistance.

    • March 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Hi Uma.
      No, I haven’t heard of the Certified Forensic Accountant but my guess is that it is a little different from the CFE from the perspective of being a more technical certification. The CFE certification seems to me a broad certification covering the generalities of fraud related matters. An analogy might be the difference between having the CIA and the CCSA (certification in control self assessment). Also, I don’t know how globally recognized it is. One thing you could do is browse some job postings for a related field and see if they are asking for the Certified Forensic certification in the job qualifications. Hope that helps.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


September 2011
« Aug   Oct »



Online Accounting Degree blog feature

%d bloggers like this: