Top 10 Senior Accountant Certifications

This article provides an overview of the most popular and sought-after senior accountant certifications available today.

Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are an important way for senior accountants to demonstrate their expertise in the job market. Certifications provide employers with evidence that a senior accountant has met certain standards of knowledge and skill, which can help them stand out from other applicants. These certifications also show potential employers that the senior accountant is committed to continuing their professional development and staying up-to-date on the latest industry practices. Additionally, some certifications may be required for certain roles or organizations, so having them can open up more career opportunities for senior accountants.

This article reviews the top certifications for Senior Accountants and explains how they can benefit a Senior Accountant's career.

What are Senior Accountant Certifications?

Senior accountant certification is a specialized credential that is designed to recognize and validate the expertise of experienced accountants. It is awarded by professional accounting organizations or educational institutions, and it typically requires the completion of specialized coursework and/or examination. Having this certification can help senior accountants stand out from the competition in their field, as it shows prospective employers that they have an advanced level of knowledge in the areas of accounting principles, taxation, financial reporting, auditing, and other related topics. Additionally, having a senior accountant certification can open up new job opportunities for those seeking advancement within the profession. Furthermore, many employers look favorably upon candidates with such credentials due to their assurance of a higher level of competence and professionalism in their work.

Pro Tip: To become a certified senior accountant, be sure to complete the necessary coursework and obtain the appropriate certifications. Additionally, take advantage of continuing education opportunities to stay up to date on the latest accounting standards and regulations. Finally, network with other senior accountants in your area to gain insight into the field and build relationships that may be beneficial in your career.

Related: What does a Senior Accountant do?

Top 10 Senior Accountant Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Senior Accountants today.

1. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional designation granted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to individuals who have met certain educational and experience requirements, passed the Uniform CPA Examination, and fulfilled all other state licensing requirements. CPAs are qualified to provide a wide range of accounting services, including auditing, taxation, financial planning, consulting, and management advisory services.

To become a CPA, you must meet certain educational requirements set by the AICPA. Generally speaking, these include completing 150 semester hours of college-level education with at least 24 semester hours in accounting-related courses. You must also pass the Uniform CPA Examination administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

The length of time it takes to become a CPA varies from person to person depending on their individual circumstances. It can take anywhere from six months to several years depending on your educational background and experience level.

In order to get your CPA license, you will need to apply for licensure with your state board of accountancy. This process typically includes submitting an application form along with proof that you have met all the necessary educational and experience requirements. You may also need to submit additional documents such as transcripts or letters of recommendation.

The cost of becoming a CPA varies depending on your state’s licensing fees and other associated costs such as exam fees and study materials. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$2,000 or more depending on your specific situation.

2. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a professional certification in the field of management accounting, granted by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). The CMA designation recognizes individuals who have demonstrated their expertise in financial planning, analysis, control, decision support and professional ethics.

It typically takes 18-24 months to earn the CMA designation. To become a CMA, you must first meet the eligibility requirements which include:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Have two years of professional experience in management accounting or financial management
  • Pass the two-part CMA exam administered by IMA
  • Agree to abide by IMA’s Code of Professional Conduct.

Once you have met all these requirements, you can apply for the CMA designation. The cost of becoming a CMA will vary depending on your country and region. Generally speaking, it will cost around $1,000-$2,000 USD to become a CMA. This includes exam fees, study materials and other associated costs.

3. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) is a professional certification offered by The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). It is the most widely recognized and respected certification for internal auditors. It is designed to demonstrate a mastery of the internal audit profession and its principles, practices, and standards.

The CIA exam consists of three parts: Part 1 – Essentials of Internal Auditing; Part 2 – Practice of Internal Auditing; and Part 3 – Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing. Each part contains multiple-choice questions as well as essay-type questions. The exam takes approximately 8 hours to complete.

To become a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), you must pass all three parts of the exam with a minimum score of 70%. You must also have at least two years of professional experience in internal auditing or related fields. Additionally, you must be a member in good standing with the IIA and adhere to their Code of Ethics.

The cost to take the CIA exam varies depending on where you live and whether or not you are an IIA member. Generally, it costs around $500-$600 per part for non-members, and around $400-$500 per part for members.

4. Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)

Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) is a professional certification program offered by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). It is designed to assess and recognize the knowledge, skills, and abilities of individuals in the field of government financial management.

The CGFM program consists of three parts: Governmental Environment (GEC), Governmental Accounting, Auditing and Financial Reporting (GAAFR), and Governmental Financial Management (GFM). To obtain the CGFM designation, applicants must pass all three exams within a five-year period.

To get the CGFM designation, you must first become an AGA member and then register for the exam. The cost of membership varies depending on your membership type. After registering for the exam, you will need to purchase study materials from AGA or other vendors. The cost for each exam ranges from $125-$200 per exam.

Once you have passed all three exams, you will receive your CGFM certificate and be eligible to use the CGFM credential after your name. You will also receive a digital badge that can be used on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.

5. Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation is a globally recognized certification for management accountants. It is awarded by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA). The CGMA recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills to provide strategic business advice and financial leadership in organizations.

To become a CGMA, you must meet certain educational and professional experience requirements. You must also pass an exam administered by the AICPA. The exam covers topics such as corporate finance, financial reporting, performance management, business strategy, and risk management.

It typically takes about two years to become a CGMA. During this time, you must complete the required coursework and gain the necessary professional experience. Once you have met all of the requirements, you can take the CGMA exam.

The cost of becoming a CGMA varies depending on your location and other factors. Generally speaking, it will cost between $1,000-$2,500 USD to become certified. This includes fees for taking the exam, study materials, and membership dues.

Once you have earned your CGMA designation, you will be able to demonstrate your expertise in management accounting to employers around the world. You will also receive access to exclusive resources from the AICPA that can help further your career in accounting and finance.

6. Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)

A Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) is a professional designation awarded by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). The CFSA credential is designed to recognize those who have demonstrated a high level of expertise in auditing financial services organizations.

To obtain the CFSA credential, individuals must pass an exam that covers topics such as financial services regulations, auditing standards, and risk management. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and can be taken at any IIA-approved testing center. It typically takes about four hours to complete the exam.

In order to qualify for the CFSA exam, applicants must have a minimum of three years of experience in internal audit or related fields. They must also meet certain educational requirements and demonstrate knowledge in areas such as financial reporting, internal controls, and risk management. Additionally, they must submit an application fee and pay an annual membership fee to maintain their certification status.

The cost of obtaining the CFSA credential varies depending on whether you are taking the exam for the first time or renewing your certification. For first-time applicants, the cost is approximately $500 USD plus applicable taxes; for renewal applicants, it is approximately $400 USD plus applicable taxes.

7. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is a certification offered by ISACA, an international professional organization for IT professionals. The CISA certification is designed to demonstrate an individual’s knowledge and experience in auditing, controlling, monitoring and assessing information systems. It is considered the gold standard of IT audit certifications and is widely recognized in the industry.

It typically takes 3-6 months to prepare for the CISA exam. To get certified, individuals must pass a rigorous exam that covers topics such as information systems auditing, control objectives and techniques, risk management and governance, information security management and assurance, IT service delivery and support, business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning.

The cost of taking the CISA exam varies depending on your country of residence. In the United States it costs $715 for members of ISACA or $915 for non-members. Other countries may have different fees associated with taking the exam.

8. Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA/ABA)

Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA/ABA) is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of business accounting and financial advice. ABA/ABA professionals are recognized as having the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to provide comprehensive business advice and services.

The ABA/ABA designation is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). To qualify for the ABA/ABA designation, applicants must meet certain educational requirements and pass an examination administered by the AICPA. Applicants must also demonstrate relevant experience in providing business accounting and financial advice.

It typically takes between one to two years to complete all of the required coursework and exams necessary to obtain the ABA/ABA designation. The cost of obtaining the ABA/ABA designation varies depending on the courses taken and other fees associated with taking the exam. Generally, it can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 or more to obtain this designation.

9. Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA Canada)

Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA Canada) is a professional designation for accountants in Canada. It is the highest standard of accounting qualification and is recognized internationally. The CPA designation is awarded by CPA Canada, a national body that sets standards and regulates the profession across the country.

To become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), you must complete an educational program, pass the Uniform Evaluation (UFE) examination, and gain relevant work experience.

The educational program consists of three levels: Common Final Examination (CFE), Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Business (ACAB), and Post-Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting (PGDPA). The CFE is a rigorous two-day exam that tests your knowledge of accounting principles, financial reporting, taxation, auditing and assurance services, business law, finance and economics. Once you have passed the CFE, you can move on to the ACAB or PGDPA programs.

Once you have completed your educational requirements, you must pass the UFE to become a Chartered Professional Accountant. This exam tests your knowledge in four areas: Financial Reporting; Assurance; Taxation; Business Law & Ethics; and Finance & Economics. You must also meet certain work experience requirements before being eligible to take the UFE.

The cost to become a Chartered Professional Accountant varies depending on which province or territory you are located in. Generally speaking, it will cost between $2,000 - $3,500 CAD to complete all three levels of education plus additional fees for registration with CPA Canada and writing the UFE exam.

In total, it usually takes between four to five years to become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

10. Enrolled Agent (EA)

Enrolled Agent (EA) is a tax professional who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). An Enrolled Agent is authorized to represent taxpayers at all administrative levels within the IRS. This includes audits, collections and appeals.

To become an Enrolled Agent, you must pass a three-part examination administered by the IRS. The exam tests your knowledge of individual and business taxes, as well as representation, practice and procedures. Passing this exam qualifies you to become an Enrolled Agent and grants you unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS.

The process of becoming an EA typically takes several months. You must first submit an application to take the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). Once your application is approved, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) that will provide instructions on how to schedule your exam with Prometric Testing Centers. After passing all three parts of the SEE, you must then submit a Form 23 Application for Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service. This form requires additional documentation such as proof of identity, background check results and references from other tax professionals or clients.

The cost for taking the SEE varies depending on which parts are taken; however it typically costs around $200-$300 per part plus any applicable fees for scheduling or rescheduling exams. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with obtaining necessary documents such as background checks or transcripts from educational institutions in order to complete Form 23 Application for Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service.

Do You Really Need a Senior Accountant Certificate?

In today’s competitive job market, obtaining a senior accountant certificate can be beneficial for those looking to advance their career. A senior accountant certificate can give you the necessary credentials and skills to become a successful professional in the accounting field. It can also help you stand out from other applicants and demonstrate your commitment to the profession.

Having a senior accountant certificate shows that you have taken the time to further your knowledge and skills in the field of accounting. It also proves that you are dedicated to staying up-to-date on current industry trends and regulations, which is important in any professional setting. With this certification, employers will know that you have taken the extra steps necessary to excel in the profession.

The senior accountant certification demonstrates your mastery of various accounting topics such as financial reporting, taxation, auditing, budgeting, and more. This knowledge is essential for any senior accounting position as it allows you to understand complex financial statements and make decisions based on accurate data analysis. Additionally, this certification gives employers confidence in your ability to manage multiple tasks efficiently and accurately as well as handle customer service inquiries with professionalism.

In conclusion, obtaining a senior accountant certificate can provide numerous benefits for those looking to advance their career in accounting. Not only does it show employers that you are committed to staying up-to-date with industry trends and regulations but it also demonstrates your understanding of complex topics related to finance. Ultimately, having a senior accountant certificate is an excellent way for individuals to differentiate themselves from other applicants in the job market and stand out from the competition.

Related: Senior Accountant Resume Examples

FAQs About Senior Accountant Certifications

Q1. What is a Senior Accountant Certification?

A1. A Senior Accountant Certification is a professional certification issued by an independent body that recognizes an individual's expertise in the accounting field. It typically requires the successful completion of a comprehensive exam and ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain the certification.

Q2. What are the benefits of obtaining a Senior Accountant Certification?

A2. Obtaining a Senior Accountant Certification can help accountants demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities to employers, clients and other stakeholders. It can also provide opportunities for career advancement, higher salaries and increased job security.

Q3. How long does it take to get certified as a Senior Accountant?

A3. The amount of time required to obtain a Senior Accountant Certification varies depending on the specific program chosen; however, most programs require at least two years of experience in the accounting field prior to applying for certification, along with passing an exam and completing continuing education courses throughout the duration of the certification period.

Q4. What is the best way to prepare for a Senior Accountant Certification exam?

A4. The best way to prepare for any professional certification exam is to thoroughly review course material from accredited programs or study guides, practice sample questions and tests, attend workshops or webinars on relevant topics and develop effective test-taking strategies that will help you maximize your score on the day of the exam.

Q5. Are there any prerequisites for obtaining a Senior Accountant Certification?

A5: Yes, most certifying bodies require applicants to have at least two years of experience in accounting before they can apply for a certification program. Additionally, applicants must usually pass an exam covering various topics related to accounting principles and practices in order to become certified as a senior accountant.