Intuit has created a Lacerte and ProSeries Tax Certification program that 1040 tax preparers can use to demonstrate their proficiency and firms can use to test their existing staff and find qualified job candidates.

The certification is expected to provide a benefit to both people who are looking for work and those firms seeking to hire extra help during tax season. Qualifying for the certification involves a test of 1040 tax prep proficiency, basic tax knowledge and in-program speed and accuracy through a time-bound, scenario-based exam.

Certification allows a job candidate seeking work to differentiate themselves from other candidates with similar résumés. Intuit also provides a logo that tax preparers can use on their letterhead, Web sites, and résumés.

Intuit said it heard from accounting and tax prep firms that it can take up to 30 days to get a new person up to speed, and the certification gives them the opportunity to save time by choosing candidates who have passed the exam. The training and certification can also be used by firms to ensure the seasonal readiness for their existing staff.

The certification exam may be purchased by anyone. The person that purchases the exam must complete and pass the exam in three attempts. The price is $249, but is being offered at an introductory price at $199.00. The training materials alone are free.

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