Few sectors of the business world are growing more quickly than the financial and investment sectors, which has many accountants considering how they might become an investment accountant and transition into this industry in order to take on new challenges and develop new skills. Whether as a career change or a first job, investment accounting is one of the most demanding fields for those with a background in number crunching and financial documenting. Many people have to combine both an undergraduate and graduate degree with professional certifications that ensure their ethical commitments and wide-ranging accounting knowledge in order to land a job in this field.

Start with an Education: Achieve Both an Undergraduate and Graduate Degree

Investment accounting is some of the fastest-paced, most advanced work that the typical accountant will ever have to take on. That means it is also one of the most demanding fields in terms of professional and educational requirements. Accountants should already have an undergraduate degree in accounting, finance, or economics, if they wish to land a job in this field and full grasp the wide scope of their professional responsibilities in the investment industry. This degree is only the beginning, however.

Most investment firms search for only those accountants who have also achieved a graduate degree in the accounting field. This can include a Master of Professional Accounting, a Master of Science in Accounting, or a Master of Accountancy degree. In any of these three cases, the successful candidate is one who studied government, tax, and managerial accounting, and one who has taken elective coursework in financial accountant, financial management, and investment mechanisms. With a graduate degree in hand, accountants can then move on to the next part of the qualification process for work in the investment industry.

Certifications: A Requirement for All Professional Investment Accountants

Accountants with a graduate degree are among the most accomplished in their industry, but even this degree is not enough to grant admission to the world of investment accounting. With the 150-credit-hour threshold met for CPA exam eligibility, aspiring investment accountants must sit for this exam and achieve a passing score as dictated by state regulations. Typically, students sit for this exam almost immediately after graduation with master’s degree in the field.

Another potential requirement of the investment accounting field is the receipt of financial advising certifications. Though these are typically required only of investors and advisors, accountants are often required to receive them so that they understand how the industry works and how various types of investment impact the nature and urgency of their accounting work. Requirements in this area may include the CFA, or Certified Financial Advisor. Accountants may also be asked to take the Series 3 and Series 9 financial advising and investment tests, and achieve a score determined as passing by their future employer.

Related Resource: Certified Management Accountant

An Exciting Profession with a Steep Cost of Admission

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the investment accounting world is promising in terms of its growth, compensation, and the nature of the work. Even so, it requires a significant educational commitment on behalf of those who wish to put their skills to use. In most cases, the best way to become an investment accountant is to work on an advanced degree and make sure that the proper certifications are in place in advance of the interview; accountants who can demonstrate an understanding of both accounting and investment concepts will be the most likely new hires for growing firms across the country.