Certifiably Good: A Look at Professional Certs – Part One

Certifications are good for business, regardless of your field of expertise. There are a wide variety of professional standards across each and every industry, and accreditation opportunities in accounting are available to ensure that each professional is held to the same standards and educational expectations. With eight main certification areas possible for accounting professionals, there are many different specialties for an expert to pursue. Let’s weed through the alphabet soup of options, and take a look at a few of the top certifications for accountants and financial advisers.


The most commonly seen certification, the CPA certification is a widely held basic requirement for nearly any accounting position. Certified Public Accountants are tested on their knowledge through the Uniform Certified Public Accounting Exam, established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. However, while the test is designed, written and scored by the AICPA, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy administers the test and backs the licensure process. This organization represents each individual state board, and those looking to take the test can find more information on the NASBA website.

Accounting CertificationsEA

The EA certification, or enrolled agent, is one you may have seen while working with your tax preparation professional. EAs are authorized by the federal government to represent individuals and businesses in tax matters with the IRS. The IRS’ Return Preparer Office manages all aspects of the EA program, including initial certification, continuing education requirements and renewals. More information on becoming an EA is available on the IRS’ website.


Certified Financial Planners, or CFPs, are experts in helping people from all walks of life organize and plan their individual financial situations. Whether assisting clients with establishing a comprehensive retirement plan or a debt management and recovery strategy, CFPs work closely with their clients to help them overcome the roadblocks or obstacles between them and financial success. The certification requirements are stringent, requiring a combination of curriculum, successfully passing the CFP exam and three years of professional experience. Certification is managed by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, which offers more information for those looking to become certified online.


Besides having one more letter than the other professional certifications, the Certified Government Financial Manager, or CGFM, accreditation is designed for those who are looking to work in governmental financial administration. CGFMs are experts in accounting, auditing, budgeting and reporting in governmental agencies at all levels of operation, from local levels to federal offices. To qualify for the certification exam, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree in a financial field as well as two or more years of professional work experience in financial work within some level of government. The Association of Government Accountants is the governing body that administers testing and certification. Find out more about the certification process on the AGA website.

In the next post, we will discuss CFE, CFM, CIA and CMA certifications and procedures. CSS maintains a comprehensive database of job seekers with these credentials and others, and can help you find a job or identify the right candidate for your organization. Contact us today to get started with your search!