Pick Your Better Option: CPA or CMA

Although the CPA and CMA certifications are distinct, each offers a competitive edge and an attractive, reliable income. Working toward and attaining either one shows employers and clients your commitment to finance excellence. Be aware that the work you’ll be qualified to conduct is decided by the credential you choose. Here’s a summary of each including what to expect and keep watch for.

Select the CPA for Customer-facing Focus

Accounting functions for this highly valued certificate include tax preparation, audits, and finance reporting for individuals and corporations.

  • License requirements vary by state. However, you are likely to be required to earn 150 college credits. And a Master’s in Accounting, with one to two years of supervision by a CPA.
  • The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy is working with regulators and other organizations on an evolving licensure model.
  • Associated fees/costs: prep courses and associated fees are about $3000.
  • CPAs are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education per year.
  • CPA exam particulars include:
    • The pass rate hovers around 50%.
    • The CPA exam is offered four times a year.
    • It has four sections, each of which is four hours long. All must be passed within an 18-month period.
    • Study the RPA Exam FAQ

Choose the CMA for Executive Level Function

Pursue the Certified Management Accountant credential if you are on track for an executive or upper management level in accounting.

  • Requirements are a bachelor’s degree or professional accounting certification.
  • An Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) membership is needed to take and maintain the CMA.
  • Associated fees/costs of the exam are about $700 for professional members and about $500 for student/academic members, plus the IMA member fee.
  • 30 hours of continuing education are required each year.
  • CMA exam particulars
    • A pass rate of 50%.
    • The exam is offered 3 times a year.
    • The exam is taken in two parts, covering 12 competencies.

Without a doubt, either credential will be worth your while!


Are you  a CPA or CMA looking for a new position?   Click here to view Beacon Resources’ list of open accounting and finance positions.




CPA Skills

Surefire Ways to Gain Top CPA Skills

As a CPA you know that increasing your skills, including tech systems, requires continuous professional development. Have you decided to delve into this more? Here are some suggestions of where to begin updating your CPA skills, guiding you towards continued success!

Keep Your Tax Information Updated

Tax mandates and laws are continuously changing at the federal, state, and local levels. Your role requires that you keep yourself updated about changes, knowing where to find information at a moment’s notice. Your ability to do so, and translate changes to clients and managers, makes you a true accounting asset.

Refine Your Leadership and Management Style

To lead is one thing, and to manage another. As you expand your CPA role, consider the benefits of practicing both leadership and management. Turn to your community to delve into leadership by sitting on the board of a locally owned financial institution or civic organization. Doing so aids with developing public speaking security. In your workplace, request to shadow or be mentored by a manager whom you admire.

Hone Your Communication Skills

Your resume’s accounting skills might have landed you an interview, but keep in mind that employers are also looking for collaborative personalities, an executive presence, good conflict-management, and adaptability.

As an accountant, you most likely need to collaborate across departments and communicate with a wide variety of colleagues. Keeping in mind that your co-workers with may not be as finance savvy as you are, you need to be able to present information in an easy to comprehend manner. Conveying information clearly goes a long way toward supporting your credibility.

Build Business Expertise

Your accounting role is crucial for a business’s success, from financial stability to reporting assurances. This requires you to become well attuned to business practices as you gain experience and increased inclusion in decision-making.

Keep on Learning new CPA Skills

You’re sure to attain top CPA skills when you make continued education a priority. Assess your current CPA skill set, comparing it with accounting sector recommendations. Most likely you’ll find that keeping financial and tech knowledge current is at the top of the list. Share what you are learning within your team, encouraging others along the way.

Are you  a CPA looking for a new position?   Click here to view Beacon Resources’ list of open accounting and finance positions.

financial analyst

Interested in Becoming a Financial Analyst?

If you have a knack for working with numbers, you may want to consider a career as a Financial Analyst.  You will be charged with tracking equities and other financial instruments and making recommendations based on your research. Financial Analysts often work for investment firms, stock brokerages, insurance agencies, and banks.

Although there are different routes to a career in financial analysis, you will find more success if you know what employers are looking for and how they choose the best candidates.

Here are some insights and tips to guide your exploration.

Look at All that Financial Analysts Do!

These people are number wizards who worked comfortably amidst spreadsheets. Their abilities and interests have prompted the development of other assets that include:

  • Statistical analysis that guides decision-making based on significance trending.
  • Application of big data functions, from use of cloud-based data to projecting outcomes associated with performance improvements.
  • Up-to-date IT abilities that promote an organization’s data security and risk reduction, along with reporting and compliance functions.
  • Collaborative leadership skills and interpersonal abilities, supporting work across departments.
  • The ability to participate in corporate decision-making with refined presentation skills.

List Your Abilities and Interests

The role is continually evolving based on the needs of business and emerging technologies. You are a likely candidate for pursuing this role if you have some of the following:

  • An ability to see the big picture.
  • Strategic thinking skills.
  • A strong grasp of the latest technology.
  • A keen interest in statistics—the bell curve is a familiar friend.
  • An inclination toward leadership, as others see that ability in you.

Plan Your Next Steps to Becoming a Financial Analyst

Now that you’ve decided you have the prerequisites to become a Financial Analyst, it’s time for future planning. You know that there are several steps to take. Along the way, you’ll learn and gain valuable experience.

  • Build skills and gain a credential by delving into big data learning.
  • Gain experience in areas you want to strengthen.
    • Continually upgrade your business finance acumen.
    • Keep pace with IT changes. Request a work project that aids skill development.
    • Sharpen your presentation skills and comfort.

Are you a Financial Analyst looking for a new position?  You’re in the right place!  Click here to view Beacon Resources’ list of open accounting and finance positions.




The CPA Guide to Management

As CPAs hone their skills in corporate accounting, public accounting, and other financial services, many naturally want to move up the management ladderBut, a management position is not necessarily a given. Yet, you know that your certification is valuable. And that, combined with the right experience and continued education, will grant you entry into your choice of management opportunities.  To be promoted to management, CPAs needs to show they can handle any of the work being performed by support staff under them.  So, where to begin?

Identify Options and Direction

As a CPA, you can choose from several career pathways. Begin by reviewing your interest and aptitude for each.

  • If you excel at technology and information analysis, consider options like big data analysis or business systems manager.
  • You can advance your banking or tax sector management eligibility with certifications in those areas.
  • Interest in accounting’s legal applications may guide you toward studying law.

Pursue Management Education

It is a given that accounting advancement and continued learning go hand-in-hand. Though there is on-the-job training, formal education assures management success.

  • Begin with a course or first step toward a certificate.
    • If most of your coursework was in finance and accounting, consider an IT or human resource option to broaden your knowledge base.
    • When you are considering different career paths, take a continuing education course in each. Doing so offers lessons that can guide your next career step.
  • Use educational benefits at work. Meet with your supervisor to discuss your aspirations.

Refine Your Tech and Soft Skills

Continually upgrade your technical and interpersonal skills to enhance your management potential.

  • Advancing your tech prowess can be accomplished at work or in school.
    • Request to be part of an IT department project or the chance to job shadow.
    • Take a course that will advance skills and demonstrate your commitment to learning.
  • Read about leadership, communication, workplace culture, and employee engagement.
    • Yes, you may find a course on these topics!
    • Objectively assess your workplace in these areas. As a future manager, you can learn as much about what to do well as what to avoid.

Be Your Own Manager First

This is a twist on the “walk the talk” adage. Manage yourself by mastering areas that will benefit from growth.

  • Practice extroversion if you are reserved.
  • Hone your listening and observation skills.
  • Learn to speak before groups.
  • Gain leadership experience by volunteering in your community.

For more career advancement tips, check out Plan Your Path to the CFO Office



CFO Career Path

Steps to Guide Your CFO Career Path

The CFO career path requires gaining a set of skills that are varied yet complementary. These skills are developed over time, with careful planning and intentional, progressive action. Along the way, you will gain knowledge and experience that build your perseverance, adaptability, and foresight.  The overall key to success is: Embrace the CFO career journey!

Gain Business Experience

Prior to gaining entry to the C-Suite, you’ll need to gain broad business and operations experience. This prepares you for variations between companies, even those within the same sector. Insights about organizational structure and operations are acquired through active knowledge pursuit. Gain these experiences through participation on corporate and community committees in both the private and public sectors.

Customer Service

Regardless of the sector in which you wish to serve as a CFO, being customer service savvy is paramount. This includes knowing how data is collected from clients, as well as quality assurance mechanisms. Time on the front line, shadowing those who serve customers, is a fruitful exercise in observational and interactive learning.

Take Time out for Technology

IT software and systems vary across business sectors and departments. Financial managers need to keep abreast of programs that best match their business’s processes, data needs, and bottom line. Gaining firsthand experience with data analysis and its assets for organizations prepares you to make well-informed upper-level decisions.

Get an Advanced Degree

The fact of the matter is that C-Suite candidates often have both. Your finance/accounting education and background serves you well. Adding a CPA expands your horizons along with skills. Pursuing specific graduate studies, such as an MBA, offers the breadth of knowledge a CFO requires.

The certificate and degree each have specific requirements, time frames, and costs, so best to be informed. Acquiring a CPA can be more involved and take longer than MBA studies.

Climb the Ladder to Your CFO Career One Step at a Time

Pursue positions that prepare you to become a CFO with its expanding responsibilities. Finance manager and controller are two such jobs to pursue as you climb the corporate ladder.


Are you  a CFO looking for a new position?  You’re in the right place!  Click here to view Beacon Resources’ list of open accounting and finance positions.