Most accountants obtain their professional status by completing a bachelor’s degree in accounting. This confers the status of public accountant upon the graduate, who is free to hang out a shingle and open a business as an accountant, preparing tax returns and handling accounting chores for businesses and individuals. Public accountants are licensed by the state, as are CPAs. But there are also five organizations offering ten additional certifications for accountants of virtually any stripe. Specialization in this industry often begins in one of the accounting schools.

Certified Public Accountants

CPAs are the most familiar of certified accountants to the general public. A Certified Public Accountant is entitled to file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, unlike public accountants. CPAs also enjoy a certain degree of enhanced credibility in the profession, in some circles. In at least 42 states CPAs are required to complete an additional 150 hours of classroom instruction beyond that required for a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Many online universities and their brick and mortar counterparts offer a master’s program that incorporates those 150 hours of additional academic work into a graduate degree.

Certified Management Accountant

An accountant with a bachelor’s degree and at least two year’s experience in management accounting can obtain certification from the Institute of Management Accountants. Qualification requires successful completion of a four-part examination and agreement to comply with continuing education requirements. Topics in the exam include risk management, financial statement analysis, valuation techniques and capital management issues.

Certified Auditors

The Institute of Internal Auditors will provide certification to accountants who have worked at least two years as internal auditors. This organization also has a four part exam. In addition, they have programs for the designations of Certified Government Auditing Professional and Certified Financial Services Auditor for those who are interested and who can pass the appropriate exam and demonstrate the required work experience.

The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation

This organization has a menu of four certified designations in the accounting field. They include the Accredited Business Accountant, the Accredited Tax Advisor, The Accredited Tax Preparer, and Elder Care Specialist. This last designation is for accountants who wish to specialize in assisting older clients in estate planning and similar services. Obtaining the Accredited Business Accountant (ABA) status requires taking an exam. The other designations require both specialized coursework and possibly an exam.

Forensic Accounting Certification

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners provides a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree, two years of related experience, and successful completion of a four part exam. The final requirement is honoring a code of professional ethics.

The Certified Government Financial Manager

This option is available to federal, state and local government employees. It confers the CGFM status upon applicants that have a bachelor’s degree, two years of financial management experience, two years’ government experience, and successful completion of three exams. Topics of the three exams include government accounting, budget analysis and management, and other relevant topics to the professional environment.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Hartzell writes on education and careers for several websites