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Any career requires ongoing education and improvement. This is especially true in the highly competitive fields of accounting and finance. By adding skills and certifications, you drive your professional development and ensure that you remain in demand as your career unfolds.

But what certifications to pursue? Achieving these competencies takes time and effort. You don’t want to invest in one, only to discover that it doesn’t sufficiently enhance your prospects.

With that in mind, here is a list of the top accounting and finance certifications to help boost your career.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

The CPA is often considered a fundamental requirement for many accounting positions. The designation is offered by the Institute of Certified Public Accountant.

Data show a CPA is well worth the investment in time and effort. The median salary for a CPA represents a 40% boost over the amount earned by someone with just a college accounting degree.

Requirements (the details of the CPA requirements change from state to state, but the baseline typically includes the following):

  • 150 semester hours of college
  • 1+ year of accounting experience
  • Pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

The CMA adds a management layer to accounting and finance proficiencies. The program teaches skills in strategic decision-making and financial planning. This certification is issued by the Institute of Management Accountants or IMA.

Like the CPA, obtaining a CMA usually leads to a substantially higher salary. The exact amount will depend on the situation, but a study conducted by the IMA showed that professionals with CMA certifications have a median compensation of 55% more than those without the credential.


  • Be an Active IMA Member
  • Bachelor’s Degree (or equivalent)
  • 2+ Years of Continuous Professional Experience
  • Pass Two-Part CMA Exam

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Offered by the CFA Institute, this certification centers on another aspect of the finance industry, letting you advance in the field of investment management. This includes jobs like an analyst or trader at a brokerage firm. It also provides a benefit if you are trying to build a career as a financial planner.


  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • 4+ Years of Professional Experience
  • Pass CFA Exams (There are three of them: Levels I, II, and III)

Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)

The public sector offers an excellent opportunity for financial careers. You can find a position working with local, state, or federal governmental agencies. The Certified Government Financial Manager offers an excellent way to build a resume aimed at this segment of the market.

The CGFM focuses on skills like financial reporting, budgeting, and audit services for all levels of government. It’s offered by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).


  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • 2+ Years of Professional Experience in Government Financial Management
  • Pass CGFM exams (there are three of them: Governmental Environment (GE), Governmental Accounting, Financial Reporting and Budgeting (GAFRB) and Governmental Financial Management and Control (GFMC))

Continuously expanding your resume with the appropriate certifications will help you push your career to new heights. Once you have the qualifications, though, you might need assistance finding the perfect position for your skills and background. A good recruiting firm, like PrideStaff, can provide the direction you need.

Contact the PrideStaff staffing specialists today to find out how they can take your finance career to the next level.

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