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Top 10 Tax Associate Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications available for tax associates to boost their career prospects.

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

Published 16 min read

Certifications are important for a tax associate in the job market because they demonstrate a level of expertise and dedication to the profession. They show employers that the individual is knowledgeable about tax law and regulations, and that they have taken the time to invest in their professional development. Certifications also provide recognition from peers and employers, which can be beneficial when seeking employment or promotions. Additionally, certifications can provide tax associates with access to resources such as continuing education courses, conferences, and other opportunities that can help them stay up-to-date on changing tax laws and regulations.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Tax Associates and explain how they can contribute to a Tax Associate's career by providing additional knowledge and skills.

What are Tax Associate Certifications?

Tax Associate Certification is a designation that recognizes professionals who have completed a course of study in taxation. This certification indicates that the professional has acquired a level of expertise through rigorous study and practice in the field of taxation. A Tax Associate Certification can be obtained by completing an accredited program or passing an exam administered by a recognized taxing authority or organization.

This certification can help individuals develop their knowledge and skills related to tax preparation, compliance, and other areas of taxation. It provides recognition for those who have achieved a high level of proficiency in the field, which can lead to better job opportunities and increased earning potential. Additionally, it may also provide access to advanced training courses and resources that are not available to non-certified individuals. Furthermore, having a Tax Associate Certification may also give individuals more confidence when they are dealing with clients or other taxpayers as they will know that they possess the necessary knowledge and expertise to properly handle any issues that may arise during tax season.

Pro Tip: When considering tax associate certification, make sure to look for programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT). This will ensure that the coursework is up to date with the latest tax laws and regulations. Additionally, ACAT-accredited programs can provide you with additional job opportunities and recognition within the industry.

Related: What does a Tax Associate do?

Top 10 Tax Associate Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Tax Associates today.

1. Certified Tax Associate (CTA)

Certified Tax Associate (CTA) is a professional certification program offered by the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP). The CTA designation is designed to recognize and reward tax professionals who have demonstrated knowledge and proficiency in the field of taxation.

To obtain the CTA designation, individuals must complete a comprehensive course of study that covers all aspects of taxation, including federal and state income taxes, estate and gift taxes, payroll taxes, and international taxation. In addition to completing the coursework, applicants must also pass an exam administered by NATP. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions covering all areas of taxation.

It typically takes between six months to one year to complete the requirements for the CTA designation. Applicants must register with NATP in order to access their online courses and take the exam.

The cost for obtaining the CTA designation varies depending on whether you are an existing member or non-member of NATP. For existing members, there is an annual fee of $295 for access to their online courses and a one-time fee of $125 for taking the exam. For non-members, there is an initial registration fee of $75 plus a one-time fee of $225 for taking the exam.

2. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional designation given to individuals who have completed the necessary education, passed an exam, and met other state-specific requirements. CPAs are qualified to provide a wide range of accounting services such as auditing, tax preparation, financial planning, and consulting.

In order to become a CPA in the United States, you must first meet the educational requirements set by your state's board of accountancy. Generally speaking, this requires at least 150 semester hours of college coursework with an emphasis on accounting and related subjects. You must also pass the Uniform CPA Examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

The cost of becoming a CPA varies depending on where you live and what type of courses you take. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 or more for tuition and fees associated with earning your CPA license. This does not include any additional costs associated with taking the exam or maintaining your license once you become certified.

Once all requirements have been fulfilled, it typically takes four to six weeks for your state board of accountancy to process your application and issue your CPA license.

3. Chartered Tax Professional (CTP)

Chartered Tax Professional (CTP) is a professional designation that recognizes the expertise of individuals in the field of taxation. It is offered by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). The CTP designation demonstrates an individual’s commitment to excellence and their knowledge and experience in tax planning, compliance, and research.

It typically takes three years to become a Chartered Tax Professional. During this time, individuals must complete courses in taxation, accounting, business law, economics, financial management, and other related topics. They must also complete at least one year of practical experience in the field of taxation.

To become a Chartered Tax Professional, individuals must first pass an exam administered by CICA. This exam covers topics such as tax law and policy, tax planning strategies, auditing principles and practices, international taxation, estate planning strategies, corporate reorganizations and more. Once they have passed the exam they can apply for membership with CICA.

The cost for becoming a Chartered Tax Professional varies depending on where you live and which courses you take. Generally speaking it can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on your circumstances.

4. Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP)

Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) is a professional designation awarded by the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP). It is designed to recognize tax preparers who have achieved a high level of expertise and knowledge in tax preparation.

To become an ATP, candidates must complete a comprehensive training program that covers all aspects of tax preparation, including federal and state income taxes, business taxes, estate and gift taxes, payroll taxes, and more. The program consists of classroom instruction as well as online courses.

The length of the program varies depending on the individual’s experience and background. Generally, it takes between three to six months to complete the program.

To get started, individuals must first register with NATP and pay a registration fee. After registering, they will receive access to the course materials and can begin their studies. Once they have completed the coursework, they must pass an exam administered by NATP in order to become certified as an Accredited Tax Preparer.

The cost for the Accredited Tax Preparer program varies depending on the type of training chosen. Generally speaking, it costs around $1,000 for self-study courses or $2,500 for instructor-led courses.

5. Certified Tax Adviser (CTA)

Certified Tax Adviser (CTA) is a professional designation given to individuals who have demonstrated expertise in taxation. The CTA designation is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

To become a CTA, you must meet certain educational and experience requirements. You must have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field and three years of full-time experience in tax practice. You must also pass the CTA Exam, which consists of four parts: Corporate Taxation, Individual Taxation, Business Entities, and Tax Research & Planning.

The CTA Exam can take anywhere from six to twelve months to complete depending on your study habits and the amount of time you are able to dedicate to studying for it. To prepare for the exam, you should review the AICPA's CTA Candidate Guide and purchase any relevant textbooks or other materials that may be helpful. Additionally, there are several online courses available that can help you prepare for the exam.

The cost of taking the CTA Exam varies depending on where you take it. The AICPA charges $325 for each part of the exam plus an additional $50 fee for registration. Additionally, there may be additional fees charged by your state board or other testing centers where you take the exam.

6. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a professional certification in the field of financial planning. It is awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., which is an independent certifying organization dedicated to setting and enforcing standards for financial planning professionals.

To become a CFP, candidates must complete the following steps:

1. Complete the required coursework: Candidates must take and pass a comprehensive course on financial planning topics such as investments, insurance, retirement planning, estate planning, taxes, and more. This coursework can be completed either online or in-person at an accredited institution.

2. Pass the Certification Exam: After completing the required coursework, candidates must pass a two-day certification exam administered by the CFP Board. The exam covers all aspects of financial planning and requires extensive knowledge and understanding of various topics related to finance.

3. Meet Additional Requirements: In addition to passing the certification exam, candidates must also meet certain ethical requirements set forth by the CFP Board and have at least three years of full-time experience in providing financial advice or services to clients.

4. Receive Certification: Once all requirements are met, candidates will receive their CFP designation from the CFP Board and will be officially certified as a financial planner.

The cost of becoming a CFP varies depending on how you choose to pursue your education and training; however, it typically costs around $2,000-$3,000 in total fees (including exam fees). The process usually takes between six months to one year to complete depending on how quickly you can complete your coursework and study for the exam.

7. Enrolled Agent (EA)

Enrolled Agent (EA) is a professional designation granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is the highest credential awarded by the IRS and recognizes individuals who demonstrate expertise in tax law and practice. EAs are authorized to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS, including examination, collection, and appeals.

In order to become an Enrolled Agent, applicants must pass a three-part exam administered by the IRS. The exam tests knowledge of individual and business taxes, representation rights and responsibilities, ethics, and other related topics. The exam consists of two parts: a three-hour multiple choice test on individual taxes and a three-hour multiple choice test on business taxes. The third part is an open book test on representation rights and responsibilities.

The process of becoming an Enrolled Agent typically takes several months to complete. After passing all three parts of the exam, applicants must submit Form 23 to apply for enrollment with the IRS. Once approved by the IRS, applicants will receive their EA certificate in approximately six weeks.

The cost to become an Enrolled Agent varies depending on which materials you use for studying for the exams. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$1,500 for study materials such as textbooks or online courses. Additionally, there is a fee of $30 per part of the exam ($90 total) that must be paid when registering for the exams.

8. Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) is a professional designation awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). It is designed to recognize professionals who have achieved a high level of expertise in management accounting, financial management, and business strategy.

In order to become a CGMA, you must first meet certain educational requirements. To qualify for the CGMA designation, you must have completed at least 120 hours of college-level coursework in accounting or finance, including at least 24 hours in management accounting and 18 hours in financial accounting. You must also pass two exams: the AICPA’s CPA Exam and CIMA’s Certified Management Accounting Exam.

It typically takes about three years to complete all of the educational requirements and pass both exams necessary for earning the CGMA designation. The cost for taking both exams varies depending on where you take them, but generally ranges from $1,000 to $2,500. Additionally, there is an annual membership fee associated with maintaining your CGMA status; this fee can range from $100 to $400 per year.

9. Certified International Tax Advisor (CITA)

Certified International Tax Advisor (CITA) is a professional certification offered by the International Fiscal Association (IFA). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated expertise in international taxation. CITA holders are expected to have an in-depth understanding of the complexities of cross-border taxation, including both direct and indirect taxation.

In order to obtain the CITA certification, applicants must demonstrate their knowledge and experience through a rigorous examination process. The exam consists of two parts: a written test and an oral examination. The written test covers topics such as international tax law, transfer pricing, double taxation treaties, permanent establishment, and other related issues. The oral examination tests candidates’ ability to apply their knowledge in practical situations.

The process of obtaining the CITA certification typically takes several months to complete. Applicants must first register for the exam with IFA and submit all required documents. Once approved, they can begin preparing for the written and oral examinations. After passing both exams, they will be awarded the CITA designation.

The cost of obtaining the CITA certification varies depending on where you take your exams and how much preparation you require beforehand. Generally speaking, it costs around $1,000-$2,000 USD to become certified as a CITA holder.

10. Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP)

Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) is a designation given by the IRS to individuals who have met certain requirements and passed a competency test. The designation allows tax preparers to represent taxpayers before the IRS in matters related to their individual income tax returns.

It typically takes between 4-6 weeks to receive the RTRP designation after submitting an application. To become an RTRP, applicants must complete an online application, pass a competency exam, and submit a $50 fee. The exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions and must be completed within three hours.

The cost for becoming an RTRP is $50 for the application fee plus any additional fees associated with taking the competency exam.

Do You Really Need a Tax Associate Certificate?

Whether or not you need a tax associate certificate depends on your individual situation. If you are looking to get into the field of taxation, then having a certificate can be beneficial. It can show potential employers that you have taken the time to understand the fundamentals of taxation, and that you have the knowledge and expertise necessary to succeed in the field.

On the other hand, if you already have experience in accounting or finance, then it may not be necessary for you to obtain a tax associate certificate. This is especially true if you already possess a degree in accounting or finance. However, if you are looking to expand your knowledge base and make yourself more attractive to potential employers, then obtaining a tax associate certificate could be beneficial.

Ultimately, whether or not you need a tax associate certificate is up to you and your individual circumstances. Consider what knowledge and skills will make you most marketable in your chosen field and take action accordingly.

Related: Tax Associate Resume Examples

FAQs About Tax Associate Certifications

1. What is a Tax Associate Certification?

Answer: A Tax Associate Certification is a professional designation that demonstrates an individual's expertise in the field of taxation. It is typically awarded by organizations such as the National Association of Tax Professionals or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

2. What are the requirements for obtaining a Tax Associate Certification?

Answer: Requirements vary depending on the certifying organization, but generally include passing an exam and having a minimum number of hours of relevant work experience. Some certifying organizations may also require continuing education credits to maintain certification status.

3. How long does it take to become certified?

Answer: The time frame for becoming certified can vary depending on the certifying organization and the individual's level of experience and study time, but it may take anywhere from six months to two years to complete all requirements for certification.

4. Is there an age requirement for obtaining a Tax Associate Certification?

Answer: No, there is no age requirement for obtaining a Tax Associate Certification, but most certifying organizations will require evidence of recent work experience in order to qualify for certification.

5. Are there any other benefits associated with obtaining a Tax Associate Certification?

Answer: Yes, in addition to demonstrating your qualifications and expertise in taxation, obtaining a Tax Associate Certification can open up new career opportunities, increase your earning potential, and provide access to exclusive industry resources and networking events.

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