Your guide to construction accounting certifications

Your guide to construction accounting certifications


Given the specialized nature of accounting in the construction industry, there are a number of construction accounting certifications available. Keep reading to learn more about these certifications, their requirements, and the organizations offering them.

Construction accounting certifications

Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) logo

Certified Construction Industry Financial Professionals (CCIFP)

The Certified Construction Industry Financial Professionals (CCIFP) certification is recognized by a variety of institutions, including:

  • Associated Builders and Contracts, Incorporated
  • The Associated General Contractors of America
  • American Subcontractors Association, Incorporated
  • Construction Industry CPAs/Consultants Association
  • International Risk Management Institute
  • National Association of Surety Bond Producers

It’s designed to convey expertise in several key domains, including:

  • accounting and reporting
  • risk management
  • taxes
  • human resources
  • legal
  • information technology
  • income recognition

The requirements for receiving CCIFP certification vary based on education level.

Applicants with a bachelor’s degree or higher must:

  • pass an examination
  • have at least 4,000 hours of professional experience
  • have 12 educational credits directly related to business subjects
  • be certified to work in accounting

Applicants with an associate’s degree (or similar) must:

  • pass an examination
  • have at least 8,000 hours of experience
  • be certified to work in accounting

Lastly, applicants with a high school diploma (or GED) must:

  • pass an examination
  • have 12,000 hours of experience
  • be certified to work in accounting

CCIFP certification remains valid for three years, at which point designation holders must be recertified.


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Construction Accounting and Financial Management from the University of California, Davis

University of California, Davis logo

Construction Accounting and Financial Management is a program offered by the University of California, Davis. It features instructor Joann Hillenbrand, CCIFP who currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer for Airco Mechanical, Incorporated.

Joann has more than 30 years of experience in construction accounting and teaches students a variety of skills, including:

  • contract management
  • accounting
  • cash management
  • financial statement management
  • construction accounting fundamentals
  • construction risk management fundamentals (including insurance)

The course costs $865 to participate in.

Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) logo

Construction Finance Fundamentals from the Corporate Finance Institute

Construction Finance Fundamentals is an introductory course aimed at teaching participants the fundamentals of managing various aspects of construction project and company financials.

Upon completing the course, participants will have an understanding of:

  • how to communicate the distinct phases of real estate development
  • different types of construction forms
  • due diligence reports and their purpose

According to the Corporate Finance Institute, the Construction Finance Fundamentals course is ideal for aspiring financial professionals interested in the real estate construction sector.

The Construction Finance Fundamentals course is part of 38 other courses in the Commercial Banking & Credit Analyst program. In other words, it’s not only valuable construction accounting training but also a potential stepping stone towards a career in other aspects of corporate finance.

Career options for professionals with construction accounting certifications

Now that you know more about the various construction accounting certifications out there, let’s discuss the career paths that open up to professionals with certifications.

Keep in mind that a particular certification, on its own, doesn’t necessarily qualify professionals to become construction accountants. Rather, companies often require degrees and experience (i.e. full-time employment or internships).

Construction accountant

Construction accountants oversee financials on projects and for their companies on the whole. Duties include:

  • planning/coordinating project financials
  • overseeing various types of financial analysis (i.e. project cost estimates)
  • reviewing financial documents (i.e. invoices, contracts, etc)
  • tracking expenses and revenue
  • assessing (and identifying ways to address) financial risks, both on individual projects and those affecting the company as a whole
  • preparing and submitting financial reports, both to stakeholders and relevant regulatory bodies

To become a construction accountant, an individual must typically have a bachelor’s degree in an accounting-related field. Many companies also prefer individuals with construction accounting certifications and professional experience in accounting.

Construction accounting clerk

While becoming a construction accountant typically requires considerable experience, the position of construction accounting clerk is typically seen as entry-level. Duties include:

  • assisting with receptionist duties
  • processing invoices
  • maintaining financial records (i.e. organizing and keeping them up to date)
  • reconciling checks
  • processing purchase orders
  • assisting construction accountants with various duties

The requirements to become a construction accounting clerk are typically much lower than those associated with becoming a full-blown construction accountant. Companies generally require a degree and some experience in bookkeeping or another entry-level accounting role (not necessarily in construction).

Construction accounting supervisor

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the role of construction accounting supervisor. This is a position for experienced construction accountants. Duties of construction accounting supervisors include:

  • overseeing all accounting operations (i.e. accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, etc)
  • managing accounting staff (including hiring new accountants, conducting performance reviews, terminating accountants, and making high-level strategic decisions)
  • representing their construction company’s accounting and financial departments to external auditors (including producing statements and other reports at their request)
  • maintaining documented standard operating procedures for other accountants to follow

As you might imagine, this role requires significant experience with construction accounting. Companies looking to hire construction accounting supervisors typically require:

  • five or more years of construction accounting experience
  • a bachelor’s degree in accounting
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation
  • specialized construction accounting certifications

Controller

Controllers typically work for general and specialty contractors, fulfilling duties such as:

  • overseeing accounts payable, accounts receivable, and cash flow management
  • creating financial forecasts
  • developing internal processes for accounting and financial reporting
  • coordinating period (i.e. quarterly) financial reviews with internal stakeholders
  • ensuring the company stays compliant with state and federal financial regulations

The role of controller at a construction company also typically requires significant experience in the construction industry. Requirements might include:

  • a bachelor’s degree in business, administration, or accounting
  • specialized construction accounting certifications
  • at least two years of experience in construction accounting

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Construction accounting certifications: Conclusion

We hope this article has helped you understand the various types of construction accounting certifications out there, along with the roles professionals typically qualify for after becoming certified and completing other educational requirements.

Visit our blog for more articles about the construction industry (including certifications for various types of professionals).

Learn more about Bridgit Bench, a workforce planning application built to help construction professionals (including construction accountants) manage various aspects of their work more efficiently.

Brandon-Richard Austin

Brandon-Richard Austin is a writer and content strategist focused on the construction sector. He’s passionate about educating readers on construction management techniques and best practices.