In nearly all cases, a financial management certificate is an academic credential that signals certain training in accounting or business financial planning. It is more than a single course, but less than a degree. Certificate programs are usually geared toward seasoned accounting executives looking to brush up their skills in a certain area. Holding a financial management certificate can also help professionals boost their resume and hiring potential by acting as a sort of proof of knowledge.
There are many different kinds of financial management certificate programs. Most are offered at universities, usually through the continuing education arm of business schools and accounting institutes. They are marketed primarily to existing professionals, though students and new graduates sometimes enroll as a means of bettering their long-term employment prospects. Some financial firms and employers also require their employees to regularly complete certificate programs as a way of maintaining a competitive edge.
Certificates are usually earned through successful completion of certain core courses. Nearly all programs include broad financial management techniques within their required classes. Courses are likely to cover specific financial management tools, business finance management skills, and basic financial analysis. One of the main goals of any financial management certificate program is to designate certain professionals as possessing superior knowledge of the field. Doing this requires that students demonstrate excellence across a range of skill sets.
Universities tend to offer financial management certificate programs that line up with the expertise of their faculty or that otherwise fall within the bigger mission of the school. An accounting program known to excel in international finances may offer a transnational financial management certificate, for instance, while a school with a very strong nonprofit management faculty may offer a certificate course specifically for students looking to work in public interest. The same is true for personal finance management and financial analysis.
Schools generally set class schedules to cater to the demands of working professionals. Certificate programs often take up a set number of weeks, with courses offered either in the evenings or on weekends. Some programs also offer condensed certificate programs that take place over a set number of long days. Most classes culminate with an exam, a paper, or some other graded assessment, and participation may also be graded. Completing the course is usually more important than scoring high marks, however, as transcripts are rarely issued or even requested.
Depending on the program, a financial management certificate can sometimes be earned over the Internet, as well. Online programs offer superior flexibility, as students can usually log in and complete prerequisites as their schedule permits. Financial professionals must usually exercise a bit of caution where strictly online programming is concerned in order to ensure that their education is as valuable as it seems at the outset. Certificates issued by universities through online extensions are usually always a sure bet. Those issued by Internet corporations or schools that exist entirely in the virtual realm may raise eyebrows within the financial management world, however, which can defeat the entire purpose of earning the credential in the first place.