Now more than ever companies are putting an emphasis on hiring and promoting employees with certain certifications. And in 2023, the hottest areas are in the accounting and corporate finance realm. These include certifications such as the CPA, CMA, CIA, and others. This article will take a look at some of the current “hot” certifications that can help you get in and get ahead in today’s hyper-competitive business environment.

CPA Certifications

CPAs are credentialed professionals who have taken a lot of coursework (the AICPA recommends 150 semester hours of college coursework – that’s years’ worth), passed the famously arduous CPA exam, and most jurisdictions require at least two years of public accounting experience in order to register and practice as a CPA. It stands to reason that they are more in demand and are paid more: they have higher qualifications for many jobs and are able to land more senior jobs and rise through the ranks faster based on those qualifications. There are some great prospects with lots of work available to the more than CPAs globally as you can see in this Accounting Today article. shows an average of $90,777 per year in salary for CPAs, and over 79,000 jobs posted! That’s nationwide data, though, and you should do your own research. But that’s already a great baseline with a lot of upside based on skills and experience. You can learn more about getting a CPA at the AICPA site.

CIA Certifications

CIAs are not our nation’s most daring spies, they are Certified Internal Auditors, over 200,000 strong, providing internal-process-focused audit and assurance to manage risk, improve controls, and make governance work within a company. CIAs, like CPAs, can be internal employees at a company or they may work for outside service firms like PWC, Deloitte, etc.

The CIA credential is far more attainable than a CPA, and despite seeing some things online to the contrary, being a CIA does not require that you are also a CPA. And, unlike being a CPA, you don’t have to get licensed in each state you work in – there’s just one global organization managing it all, the IIA (Institute for Internal Auditors). You need to:

  • Have a 4-year degree from an accredited college or qualified work experience
  • Bring 2 years of audit experience
  • Pay application and testing fees
  • Pass the 3-part CIA exam (which means you have to buy the books and study materials and get through it all – still significantly more straightforward than getting your CPA)
  • Provide a qualified character reference shows an average of $134,000 per year in salary for Internal Auditors which is much higher than before 2020, and over 1,300 jobs posted. Although far fewer than for CPAs, the CIA certification is more rare and can be in more demand depending on the industry and location. You can learn more about getting a CIA at the IIA site.

CMA Certifications

CMAs (Certified Management Accountants) are less about the ‘debits and credits’ and more about corporate finance. That is, providing insight and leadership into company operations and performance. They frequently work with the CPAs when it comes financial reporting and getting the ‘grist’ of the data they need for analysis, but that analysis and advice is core to what’s great about CMAs. And the CMA credential is one clear way to get to the finance side of any corporate (or NFP or consulting) entity.

The CMA exam has 2 parts covering 11 topic areas (competencies). You need a bachelor’s degree or a professional accounting certification (but not both!), two years’ of working experience, and, of course, passing of the exam. The CMA details page on the IMA (the Institute of Management Accountants) site lays it all out for you, and recommends 150+ hours of study for each part of the CMA exam.

Over 60,000 CMAs have been awarded to date, with 4,000 awarded annually, on average. The CMA is especially big globally.

CMAs are obviously not as common as CPAs and their demand is a bit lower as well, with few jobs publicly available in However, if you can find a job opening, the average salary is typically around $111,000.  You can learn more about getting a CMA at the IMA site.

Learn More About What’s In-Demand

A great place to learn about certifications that are in demand is to look at actual job listings. If a hiring manager bothers to put in a qualification, that means it matters to them. If you see lots of listings with that qualification, then there’s a sign for you. I like looking at because they give some useful ancillary insight when you run certain searches – especially on high volume job listings. You can also check out LinkedIn jobs for similar insights. Good luck!