Accounting Certifications Employers Want
In the following article, Lewis Daidone discusses the CPA certification process and benefits.. Lewis Daidone is a Certified Public Accountant and consultant for financial service firms and tech companies.
Accountants are well-educated professionals trained to measure, disclose or provide assurance about financial information that helps managers, investors, tax authorities and others make decisions about allocating resources. Similar to other highly regarded professions, accountants have a number of credentials and certifications designed to ensure a high level of professionalism. The most widely sought credential is the CPA, or certified public accountant.
Certified Public Accountant License
The process of becoming certified begins with a college degree in accounting, or a business or finance degree with a suitable concentration of accounting courses. Most states’ licensing requirements call for 150 semester hours of coursework, more than that required for the average bachelor’s degree. Future accountants can complete extra courses or take advantage of combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that award both degrees after five years’ study. The CPA examination is written in four parts and must be completed within a 12-month period. Most states also require accountants to have two years’ work experience under the supervision of a CPA before they can be certified.
Becoming a CPA is not a one-time process. Retaining the designation requires a commitment to continuing professional education. Each state’s own board of accountancy determines how much continuing education is appropriate. For example, New Jersey requires 120 hours over a three year period, with no fewer than 20 hours in a given year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 16 percent growth in the number of accountants between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, those with a CPA designation — especially when combined with an MBA or other advanced degree — will be the most employable. International staffing firm Robert Half Finance and Accounting corroborates the bureau’s assessment, describing the CPA as its most-recruited credential. Like the BLS, Robert Half sees CPAs with an MBA as the most desirable recruits.