High standards have been set and must be maintained in the accounting profession due to the ethical nature of the job and ever-changing demands. The accounting major needs to be prepared to keep abreast of industry trends and continued education throughout his or her profession. Certain accounting designations require continued education classes once the professional receives the initial certificate. Let’s take a look at what some of these certifications have to offer:
- Many accounting professionals aspire to earning the prestigious CPA certification. Granted by the State Board of Accountancy, almost all states require at least a college degree and 150 credit hours to take the test. The AICPA has developed a demanding exam called the Uniform CPA Examination that all states use. The Exam takes two days to complete and has four parts. Most states don’t require test takers to pass all four parts at once; passing two parts will give you partial credit, and the other two parts must be completed within a specified timeframe. Only 25 percent of test takers receive passing grades. Recently the AICPA has developed a computerized version of the Exam. In addition to the Exam, most states also expect a degree of practical experience in accounting. CPE or continuing professional education credits must be earned during a certain time period in order to maintain the license. In the case of a public accountant, one must earn 120 CPE hours within three years, with a minimum of twenty hours per year. Continuing education classes need to be in a subject area that enhances the knowledge of the individual.
- Management accountants can earn the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). Certification requires a bachelor’s degree and a passing score on all required exam parts. Those applying must have been employed for a minimum of two years as a management accountant, adhere to a standard of professionalism, and participate in continuing professional education. Thirty hours a year of CPE are required, with a minimum of two hours in ethics.
- Government accountants, auditors, and other employees engaged in finance at all levels of government can gain professional recognition by earning the designation of Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM), which is given by the Association of Government Accountants. This certification requires twenty-four hours of course study in financial management, a bachelor’s degree, a minimum of two years’ experience in government work, and a passing grade on three exams. The exams test applicants’ knowledge of financial management and control; accounting, financial reporting, and budgeting for the government; and the environment. In order to remain an active CGFM, the individual must pay an annual renewal fee and complete eighty hours of continuing education focused on government financial management topics every two years.