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What certs will help me utilize both accounting and IT skills?

I'm graduating with a double major (B.S. in Accounting and B.S. in Management Information Systems). I have three years of technical support experience in Microsoft 2000/NT. I want to become a financial analyst or another job that utilizes both accounting and IT skills. I was wondering if I should get my A+ and Network+ and then get my MCDBA and MOS? I want to be able to differentiate myself in this difficult Utah job market doing a job that combines IT and Accounting. Please let me know what you think.

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The kinds of certs you suggest are too focused on IT and not at all focused on financial stuff to help you position yourself as a person with a foot in both camps as it were. It might make more sense for you to look into something like the Project Management Institute's Project Management Professional (PMI-PMP) certification, which stresses soft project skills--including budgeting and budget management--or going after an MBA with an emphasis in accounting or finance, to attain the kind of differentiation you're after.

Frankly A+ and Network+ are too low-level to really help all that much, and the Microsoft Office Specialist is too low-level and too output production oriented to really do much good (except for maybe an expert level MOS in Excel, where you could talk about all the financial models and analysis you know how to conduct). The MCDBA or other database credentials might be a good fit, if you concentrate on applying database skills and knowledge to matters financial--which argues that something like Oracle (and Oracle Financials) or ERP certifications (like those from SAP) might make even more sense.

My advice is to find a professional in the SLC area who's doing now what you'd like to be doing some day, and ask them for more pointed and focused advice. Because you're asking for details about an area that's really outside my expertise, I can only provide advice based on my understanding of market conditions in general, and the application of commonsense suggestions based on years of responding to requests like yours from others. But to really zero in on what works for you in your locale, a local mentor would be really helpful.

This was first published in September 2004

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