Specializations & Credentials
Mind-expanding, career-advancing insights, right this way.
Okay, you’ve got a toehold in the profession, or a whole foot in the door. And whether you’ve taken your CPA Exam yet or not, you’ve already put in a lot of late nights and extra effort just to get to this point in your career. Which means this is no time to relax.
We’re not saying you need to work 24-7 and forget about having a life. No, what we mean is this a good time to start thinking about an area of specialization within the CPA universe (if you haven’t already). Because in addition to deciding if you’d rather work in a big firm or small, in industry or government or somewhere else, you can also choose to focus on a particular specialty area within a practice. Things like:
- Personal Financial Planning
- Information Management and Technology Assurance
- Assurance Services
- Environmental Accounting
- International Accounting
These specializations give you a great way to steer your career path toward something that’s in great demand, something that could be of help on the ladder of success or something that you’ve always been interested in. Ideally, all three.
They might lead you toward a new credential that lets you add some additional letters after "CPA"—and some extra value in the eyes of an employer. They might provide valuable perspective on possible career paths. Or they might enable you to become the jaw-dropping tax whiz you always knew you could be.
The nice thing is, whichever way you go, you won’t be going it alone. The AICPA offers all kinds of resources to help you make the most of your opportunities in these practice areas.
Here’s a brief overview of some of the useful stuff you’ll find in each area; of course we encourage you to dive in and check it all out for yourself.
|Information Management and Technology Assurance
In some ways, the combination of computers and financial information was a match made in heaven. Even so, managing that match—in the face of technological advances and financial complexity—can be a tricky business. That’s why the AICPA Information Management and Technology Assurance Division (IMTA Division) provides a place where CPAs can keep up with the impact of technology on their data, and their jobs. Plus, if you want to delve a little deeper you can get to the real crown jewels: specifics on the Certified Information Technology Professional credential (CITP). It’s a designation that demonstrates superior knowledge of information relationships and technologies, and specialized information management tools. Things that can really come in handy in today’s business world.
|Forensics & Valuation
These days, there’s a big demand for accountants who understand the complexity of valuing assets–both in the interest of promoting fair business dealings and in pursuit of criminal activity. The Forensics and Valuation Services Center can help you get your head around all this stuff, with lots of articles and tools, professional and practice development resources and rundowns on committee and advocacy opportunities. It’s also a forum for CPAs interested in either the Accredited in Business Valuation program (ABV) or the Certified in Financial Forensics credentials (CFF)—or heck, both. The ABV lets you go beyond the basics of valuation, and provide a deeper analysis for clients. The CFF adds specialized forensic accounting skills to your toolbox, and has applications to a wide range of services–from bankruptcy to fraud prevention to family law.
|Personal Financial Planning
This area covers what is the bread and butter of many CPA practices: estates, investments, tax planning, retirement, risk management. What’s in it for you? A clearinghouse of resources on the latest legislative proposals and tax implications. Updates on CPE opportunities. Webcasts on topics from estate administration to Ponzi schemes. Pretty much everything you need to get the lay of the land on all things PFP. Even better, this area provides a wealth of information on managing the kind of practice that thrives off of bread and butter. You can get advice on starting up a firm, connecting with clients, marketing your services and dozens of other need-to-know topics.
This is a bottom-line-oriented business—and don’t forget that includes the bottom line of your firm, too. If you want to learn more about building a client base, servicing clients and managing employees, this is the place to look. If you’re in charge of hiring the best people and keeping them happy, there’s a ton of stuff here. If you work for a firm trying to figure out how to smooth the way for a new generation of leadership, yep—you, too, will find what you’re looking for in PCPS. No matter what size firm you work for,you’re bound to find the answers you need when it comes to managing your own business. (And if not, there’s also a way to connect with the right people who can help.)
How thorough is the AICPA’s Tax Section? Well, it offers over 1,000 articles covering every angle of tax law and practice. It provides regular updates and analysis on legislative and regulatory issues, as well as access to everything you ever wanted to know about professional standards and codes of conduct. And, most important of all, it is comprised of 25,000 tax practitioners who are able to answer questions, share ideas and work together to help their practices and their profession.