Certifications in any field are important markers of knowledge and quality. Accounting is no different. Graduates usually find at least one or two certifications helpful. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates who possess the right set of certifications greatly improve their job prospects.

Resource: 50 Best Accounting Schools in the USA 2016

Certified Public Accountant

Most graduates aim first towards the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. It’s the entry-level certification for accounting graduates and represents one of the most basic certifications for offering accountant services to the public. CPA is a license issued by state governments after completing education requirements and successfully passing an exam.

CPAs usually work within two job areas. One of these is tax return and preparation services for businesses and individuals. They also work in assurance services. They provide assurance of the accuracy of financial statements and disclosure. They will also create these financial statements and disclosures. Their CPA license shows that they understand these areas well.

Chartered Financial Analyst

CFAs are one of the most in-demand certifications for graduates. Certified Financial Analysts are experts in the analysis of financial information. They are proficient in asset valuation, wealth planning, and portfolio management. They understand the statistical tools to make sense of a wide stream of financial data that regular accountants just don’t have.

The requirements to be a CFA are quite strict. It requires 4 years of relevant work experience. It takes mastery of the CFA curriculum program and passing 3 exams that last 6 hours each. It also requires being a member of the CFA Institute and agreeing to abide by Code of Ethics and Professional Standards.

Certified Internal Auditor

When it comes to accountants, CIA doesn’t mean Central Intelligence Agency. It means Certified Internal Auditor. It’s the only internal auditing certification that is recognized globally. Internal auditors work with companies to ensure that their processes, risk management, and governance are operating correctly and effectively. They will examine financial information to make sure that the information is correct.

Becoming a CIA requires that you meet specific educational requirements, meet experience requirements, and pass an exam covering internal auditing principles and practices. Generally, prospective practitioners need a 4-year degree and 24 months of internal auditing experiences to meet the education and experience requirements.

Certified Management Accountant

CMAs work with management in companies around the globe. They focus on areas like decision support, financial planning, and financial analysis. They work with all types and sizes of companies from small and medium enterprises to large multinational firms.

Becoming a CMA requires a 4-year college degree. It also requires 2 years of continuous professional experience in CMA curriculum such as financial planning and management. Once these two requirements are met, a rigorous exam on CMA topics must be passed.

Certified Information Systems Auditor

For accountants working with information systems, the CISA is a way to demonstrate expertise in auditing computer systems. It’s a popular pathway for graduates with an interest in IT. CISA certified auditors have the expertise to look for critical issues in information systems. They can convey their findings to decision makers and help them customize solutions that build trust in the systems. They are at the forefront of cyber security operations.

Getting the CISA requires 5 years of experience in information system auditing and passing the relevant exam. There are waivers for some of the experience requirements based on your education and specific work experience.

One of these five certifications for accounting graduates can help propel your career to a higher level. They can improve your job prospects and income potential. All you need to do is decide which one most interests you.