13 Top Accounting Certifications in Canada in 2023

Do you need accounting certifications? This article lists and discusses 13 top accounting certifications in Canada in 2023.

Certifications help to boost your employability status and knowledge.

Many essential certifications for accounting professionals can help boost your experience and expertise.

In this article, we will explore 13 of the top accounting certifications in Canada in 2023, coupled with descriptions and prerequisites for each certification.

People who read this article also read: 14 Top Universities to Study Accounting in Asia.

Is Accounting Certification a Must to Take?

You must get certified if you want to go higher in your career and experience increased pay and mobility.

As a professional in the accounting field, you will be denied certain jobs without certain certifications.

So, accounting certification is as important as keeping the job.

Top Accounting Certifications

Here are 13 of Canada’s most well-known accounting certification programs in 2023. 

1. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

For a career in accounting, this is one of the must-have certifications.

It is one of the most trusted certifications that can be taken anywhere in the world, including Canada.

Tax accountants, financial analysts, and other aspects of accounting can benefit from the Certified Public Accountant certification.

Prerequisite includes:

The prerequisites for a CPA vary by state. In Canada, you must have an undergraduate degree in accounting from a recognized university. 

In addition, you must have an overall GPA of 65% in your core course before you are granted admission into CPA

The CPA examination covers four four-hour sections, which include:

  • Financial accounting and reporting
  • Auditing and attestation
  • Regulation and business environment and concepts

You must complete all four components within a 2-year period on a part-time basis in education. This is done to maintain your CPA certification.

2. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Certified Management Accountant certification enables you as a professional to work with corporate bodies rather than private accounting. 

You get awarded the Institute of Management Accountants certification when you demonstrate expertise in critical accounting and financial management.

Prerequisites include:

  • Bachelor’s degree 
  • Two years of work experience
  • Professional accounting certification
  • IMA membership
  • Pass both parts of the CMA certification within three years of one another.

The double-part exam covers 12 areas of competencies that include:

  • Decision analysis
  • Corporate finance
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Performance management
  • Financial statement analysis and planning

To maintain your certification with CMA, you must have 30 hours of CE credits yearly and remain an active IMA member.

3. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

The Certified Financial Planner certification is for professional accountants who specialize in financial planning.

It demonstrates an individual’s values, like integrity, honesty, competence, and diligence.

Prerequisites include:

  • 6,000 hours of professional experience 
  • 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Pass the CFP exam.
  • Pass a background check.

The CFP exam is anchored by the CFP Board.  The exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions that cover several topics:

  • General finance principles
  • Tax planning
  • Risk management
  • Professional Conduct
  • Investment Planning

To maintain your CFP, you must:

  • Adhere to the FP Canada Standards Council
  • Complete 25 hours of Continuing Education (CE), including at least two credits in the Professional Responsibility category.
  • Comply with the CFP Certification Policies.
  • Complete and wait for the approval of your certification renewal and payment of your annual certification. 

4. Certified Fund Specialist (CFS) – Top Accounting Certifications in Canada

Certified fund specialist is a branch of financial accountants that advises clients about investments and buys and sells funds for them.

This certification is designed for accountants, bankers, brokers, money managers, personal financial advisors, and other professionals within the financial industry.

As an accountant, it gives you a hedge in the industry.

Prerequisites include:

  • Bachelor’s degree 
  • 2,000 hours of work experience in the financial services industry
  • You must complete six modules in the IBF self-study program.
  • You must have passed the CFS exam.

This certification consists of three online exams and a case study. Content areas to be covered by this course are:

  • Closed-end funds
  • Mutual funds, ETFs,s and REITs
  • Asset allocation and portfolio construction
  • Advanced fund analysis and selection

You must complete 30 CE hours every two years to pass this certification.

5. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

The Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) is a globally recognized accounting certification program that focuses on topics like: 

  • Financial management
  • Reporting
  • Taxation, 
  • Auditing
  • Leadership and ethics.

Unlike the CPA, ACCA is more internationally recognized.

The ACCA accounting consists of three modules broken down into three stages.

To graduate, you must undergo 13 exams, approximately £2,000 to attain and three years to complete.   

Documents needed for Application:

  • Proof of I.D.
  • ACCA Letter of Good Standing (LGS) and Transcripts.
  • Copy of Statement of Completion Certificate.
  • LGS from all other accounting bodies (if applicable)
  • Original WES ICAP Report.
  • Well, detailed Chronological Resume.
  • Two Referee Recommendation Forms.

6. Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) certification is aimed at distinguishing accounting professionals who have advanced knowledge in finance, strategy, operations and management from those that don’t.

It is one of the most respected accounting certifications in the world.

It involves you undergoing extensive global research to keep to date on finance, strategy, and operations matters.

To undergo this course, you must be ready to commit to rigorous education, exam and experience requirements, and the association’s ethical conduct.

Prerequisites include:

  • Evidence of your practical experience that explains your relevant work experience addressing at least four (4) areas of competencies. Your practical experience should be at a minimum of 36 months.

    -Half of your practical experience requirement, 18 months, must show relevant work across the foundational, intermediate, advanced, and expert levels.

    -The remaining 18 months of the practical experience requirement must inform the board of your work experience at the intermediate, advanced, and/or expert levels.

7. Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)

The Certified Investment Management Analyst certification is for professionals who specialize as financial analysts, financial accountants, financial planners, investment consultants, and wealth management professionals.

Prerequisites include:

  • At least three years of experience
  • Complete the CIMA education program.
  • Hold a CIMA certificate in business accounting or other relevant qualifications
  • Pass a background check.

It consists of a five-hour computer-based exam that covers the following:

  • Ethics
  • Asset allocation
  • Risk measurement
  • Performance measurement
  • Investment policy
  • Due diligence

Once you have completed and passed your exam, you must sign an agreement affirming that you will adhere to the Code of Professional Responsibility set forth by the Investments & Wealth Institute.

You must complete at least 40 hours of CE credits every two years to maintain your certification.

You must also complete the compliance requirement yearly, which involves disclosing state or federal actions and indicating your affirmation to continuously adhere to the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules and Guidelines for Use of the Marks.

8. Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) – Best Accounting Certifications in Canada

The Chartered Financial Consultant designation is granted by the Canadian Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors as an upgrade to your profession.

The Chartered Financial Consultant certification broadens your knowledge in all areas of financial planning, including investment tax, estate, and insurance planning.

Prerequisites include:

  • At least three years of professional experience in the finance industry within the last five years
  • Pass closed-book, proctored exams.
  • Complete seven core courses and two electives.

Exam topics to be covered are:

  • Financial planning
  • State planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Income taxation
  • Insurance planning

After you have completed the exam, you must agree to comply with the Canadian College Code of Ethics and Procedures.

To maintain and renew your certification, you must pay an annual fee, reconfirm your client-facing status, update your contact information, and submit to the standard of ethics. 

Equally, you must complete 30 hours of CE credits yearly.

9. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) – Top Accounting Certifications in Canada

Chartered financial analysts is a designation that works with investments rather than financial planning.

The CFA Program is a three-part exam that evaluates the fundamentals of investment tools, assets valuation, portfolio management, and wealth planning.

It is one of the important designations for professionals with an accounting background, especially those who want to work in institutional money management and stock analysis.

Prerequisites include:

  • Three years of professional experience
  • Pass three-step exams

The trio exam covers several subject areas, that is:

  • Ethics
  • Economics
  • Derivatives
  • Equity investments
  • Fixed income types
  • Corporate finance
  • Financial reporting
  • Quantitative methods

The first exam consists of 240 multiple-choice questions broken into two three-hour sessions. 

The second exam consists of 21 item set questions, 10 in the morning and 11 in the afternoon.

The final exam consists of 8 to 12 essay questions in the morning session and 11 set-item questions in the afternoon.

To obtain and maintain your charter, you must be a member of the CFA Institute.

10. The Chartered Investment Counselor Certification

The Chartered Investment Counselor certification is issued by the Investment Adviser Association (IAA) to professionals who want to specialize in the portfolio and mutual fund management.

Prerequisites include:

  • Must be a registered investment adviser
  • Hold CFA certification
  • Provide character references

Maintaining CIC certification requires adherence to the IAA’s code of ethics.

11.  Financial Risk Manager (FRM)

Financial Risk Manager is the world’s leading designation for risk managers.

It is a professional title awarded by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP).

It is a globally recognized certification for risk management in financial organizations such as banks, accounting institutions, insurance firms, consulting firms, and credit agencies.

Prerequisites include:

  • At least two years of professional experience in a field directly related to financial risk management
  • Pass the two-part certifying exam
  • Present management portfolio

Exam content areas include:

  • Financial theories
  • Risk management concepts
  • Application of risk management tools

The first part of the exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions to be answered within four hours.

The second part consists of 80 multiple-choice questions to be answered within four hours.

12. The Certified International Investment Analysis

The Certified International Investment Analyst is an internationally recognized, advanced professional qualification designation for individuals working in the finance and investment industry.

This designation aims to enhance your knowledge of economics, derivative valuation, corporate finance, portfolio management and analysis, fixed income valuation and analysis, equity valuation and analysis, and more.

It is offered by the Association of Certified International Investment Analysts (ACIIA).

Prerequisites include:

  • Three years of professional experience in portfolio management, investment, or financial analysis
  • Pass all CIIA exams.
  • Membership in a participating national or regional society

The exam is broken down into three foundational layers, which covers topic like:

  • Economics
  • Corporate finance
  • Portfolio management

These exams consist of multiple-choice, discursive, short essay and calculation questions.

These exams consist of case study questions and an in-depth essay.

They cover national or regional legal and regulatory topics.

 13. Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) – Best Accounting Certifications in Canada

The Certified Private Wealth Advisor certification is designed for financial professionals who work or want to work with private clients to manage their assets.

As a CWPA, you can only provide financial planning services to individuals with a net worth of $5 million.

You help formulate ways of helping them sustain and grow their wealth through advanced wealth management techniques.

The Investments and Wealth Institute offer the designation program.

Prerequisites include:

  • Bachelor’s degree or
  • Wealth management certification
  • Five years of experience in finance
  • Complete the CPWA education course

Content areas in which exams topic will be derived are:

  • Tax strategies
  • Business succession
  • Asset management
  • Charitable giving
  • Wealth transfers

FAQs – Top accounting certifications in Canada

Which accounting certification is best in Canada?

The Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation is widely recognized as the best accounting certification in Canada. It is a merger of three legacy accounting designations: Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified General Accountant (CGA), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA). The CPA designation is highly regarded and respected in the Canadian accounting profession.

Which is harder ACCA or CFA?

Both ACCA and CFA have their own unique challenges and requirements. However, many consider CFA harder due to its rigorous curriculum, depth of knowledge required, and low pass rates.

What is the highest accounting qualification in Canada?

The highest accounting qualification in Canada is the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. It is a nationally recognized professional designation demonstrating expertise in accounting, finance, and business.


Having done justice to the various professional certifications you can acquire as an accountant that wants to go further in his or her field. 

Carefully go through each and choose the one that suits your interest and specialty the most.


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