Valuable Credential Opportunities for Contemporary Accounting Professionals


The number and variety of specialty credentials available to accountants continue to grow. When planning their career paths, CPAs should consider the opportunities that are available; potential employers should consider the specialized knowledge they want their professionals to possess. This article summarizes the major credentialing opportunities in the marketplace and the potential benefits each can provide.

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Accountants have many opportunities to expand their knowledge and reputation through professional development and the pursuit of one or more accounting credentials. While the CPA is the only accounting credential to provide its holder with a licensed designation in the United States, many other credentialing opportunities exist in specialty areas such as management accounting, information technology, internal auditing, financial services, business valuation, fraud examination, and forensic accounting. Obtaining multiple credentials not only provides development and reputational benefits; this enables holders and their firms to differentiate and expand their service offerings.

The important role that accounting credentials play in the career of an accountant was noted by the authors in “Navigating the Maze of Today’s Professional Credentials,” (Douglas M. Boyle, Robyn Lawrence, and Daniel P. Mahoney, The CPA Journal, June 2013): “Taking time to consider the pursuit of new credentials can be one of the most important career moves that an accounting professional makes. Of course, identifying areas of specialization that are of genuine interest—rather than just financially lucrative—is an essential part of this process. It is most certainly time well invested, because the result can be a career path that is rewarding in a variety of ways.” The article summarized the various professional organizations and their respective credentialing opportunities. Since that article’s publication, credentialing opportunities have continued to increase, thus making the process of researching the numerous professional organizations and the requirements of their various credentials all the more onerous for busy accounting professionals.

The purpose of the current article is to provide accounting professionals with an awareness of the various credentialing opportunities and the benefits of holding such credentials. The discussion will focus on the more prominent U.S.-based professional organizations (e.g., those with membership in excess of 50,000) and their related credentialing opportunities and requirements.

Professional Organizations and Credentials

U.S.-based organizations that provide credential opportunities for accounting professionals include the AICPA, the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (CFA), the ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit Control Association), the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), and the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB).

Exhibit 1 lists these organizations and the credentialing opportunities they offer. Bolded credentials have been identified as top certifications valued by employers in “Accounting Certifications Employers Really Want to See” (Robert Half 2018) or “Accounting and Finance Salary Guide” (Robert Half 2019).

Exhibit 1

U.S.-Based Organizations and Credentials

400,000 Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations (CEIV) Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Founded: 1919 Membership: 100,000 Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis (CSCA) Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Founded: 1941 Membership: 185,000 Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) Qualification in Internal Audit Leadership (QIAL) Certified Process Safety Auditor (CPSA) Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA) As of 12/31/18, the IIA is no longer accepting new applicants for the Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), and Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA) Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (CFA Institute) Founded: 1947 Membership: 165,000 Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association) Founded: 1969 Membership: 140,000 Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) CSX Practitioner and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Founded: 1988 Membership: 85,000 Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) Founded: 2004 Membership: 175,000 Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Source: Website of related organization.”/

400,000 Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations (CEIV) Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Founded: 1919 Membership: 100,000 Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis (CSCA) Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Founded: 1941 Membership: 185,000 Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) Qualification in Internal Audit Leadership (QIAL) Certified Process Safety Auditor (CPSA) Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA) As of 12/31/18, the IIA is no longer accepting new applicants for the Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), and Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA) Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (CFA Institute) Founded: 1947 Membership: 165,000 Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association) Founded: 1969 Membership: 140,000 Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) CSX Practitioner and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Founded: 1988 Membership: 85,000 Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) Founded: 2004 Membership: 175,000 Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Source: Website of related organization.”/

AICPA Credentials

The AICPA is the granting organization for six specialty credentials available to candidates who already hold the CPA designation. These credentials include: Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF), Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), and Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations (CEIV). The CPA, CITP, and CGMA have been identified (Robert Half 2018, 2019) as top certifications valued by employers.

The Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) credential was established in 2000 as a specialty certification for CPAs who have an interest in technology and who obtained supplemental training in emerging trends, security and privacy, business solutions, IT assurance, and data analytics. To obtain the CITP, a candidate must have 75 hours (acquired within five years of the CITP…



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