Kids are not the only ones returning to the classroom this fall. Many professionals are going back to school to gain the expertise they need for a new job, to earn a promotion, or, in some cases, to retain their current position.
Even if your field of work does not require it, there are a number of reasons to pursue continuing education. It gives you a competitive edge, shows your commitment to grow in your profession, and often increases your earning power. Many certifications also provide designations that you can attach to your name, such as CPA, giving you added visibility and notoriety.
In-Demand Finance & Accounting Certifications
Many careers in finance and accounting require certification. Each certification has its own requirements for education, work experience, and examination.
In-demand certifications in today’s finance and accounting job market include:
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Many seasoned accountants return to school to earn their masters degree in accounting and CPA license to take their career to the next level. The CPA designation continues to be one of the most widely respected and in-demand certifications in the industry. Passing the rigorous CPA exam demonstrates mastery in advanced accounting, auditing, tax advisory, and financial management skills. This certification opens up a number of doors in the public and private sector, and often leads to advancement and management opportunities.
Common CPA Roles: Accountant, Tax Accountant, Controller, Director of Finance, and Chief Financial Officer
Certified Treasury Professional (CTP)
Those looking to step into a treasury position should look into the CTP. It signifies that you have the skills and experience to perform in today’s complex treasury environment. According to the Association of Finance Professionals, many of those with a CTP receive promotions, increase their job security, and earn up to a 16% higher salary than peers without the certification.
Common CTP Roles: Treasury Analyst, Manager Treasury/Finance, Senior Accountant, Accounting Manager, and Cash Manager
Certified Internal Audit (CIA)
For those looking to demonstrate and further their internal audit skills, the CIA is a great option and will help set you apart from other job candidates. According to the Institute of Internal Auditors, the CIA is ideal for auditors in all stages of their careers and can open a number of doors, including advancement opportunities and up to a 40% increase in earning potential.
Common CIA Roles: Auditor, Chief Audit Executive, Audit Manager, and Risk Management
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Investment professionals may want to consider receiving the CFA. Completing this program communicates to employers that you have a range of portfolio management and investment analysis skills. It also connects you to a global community of 135,000 charterholders.
Common CFA Roles: Relationship Manager, Corporate Financial Analyst, Financial Advisor, and Portfolio Manager
Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) and Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)
Those seeking an entry-level payroll position may benefit from an FPC. It demonstrates a baseline of payroll competency and is an important first step in a payroll career. No previous payroll experience is required to take the exam. For those with payroll experience, the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) may be a better option. Both certifications communicate that you are up-to-date on payroll law and are interested in advancing in your profession.
Common FPC Roles: Payroll Specialist, Payroll Clerk, and Payroll Coordinator
Common CPP roles: Payroll Tax Specialist and Payroll Manager
Other Ways to Advance Your Skills
In addition to formal education, there are a number of ways to learn and increase your skills. Start by asking if there are any training opportunities available through your employer. Many employers support ongoing learning through tuition reimbursement programs and on-the-job training, making it even easier to advance your skills.
Outside of work, you can look at joining a local professional association or attending networking events. A number of internet courses are also at your fingertips. Platforms such as Lynda.com, Udemy, and Coursera make learning easy and accessible.
No one else is going to tout your skills and certifications. It’s up to you! After you’ve taken a class or earned a new certification, don’t forget to promote yourself on LinkedIn! Including continuing education communicates to employers and colleagues that your knowledge is up-to-date. It also adds important keywords to your profile that a potential employer may enter in search. You can list your continuing education in the Education or Certifications sections of your LinkedIn profile.
There are more educational opportunities available today than ever before. Whether it is watching a webinar, taking an online self-study course, or attending an educational session at a conference, you have several avenues available to you. Education is an investment in yourself and your career.