Why Become a CMA? Your questions answered!

Why Become a CMA? Your questions answered!

I’m Mike Brown, National Instructor for Becker’s CMA Exam Review course. I recently hosted a free webcast, “Why become a CMA?” that explained the benefits of the CMA career path and how earning a CMA certification can provide new opportunities for your accounting career. This blog post will address some of the outstanding questions that I received from viewers during the webcast. Read on to hear some of the most-asked questions surrounding the CMA career path so that you can be informed of everything there is to know about earning the CMA certification.

Is the CMA Exam harder or easier than the CPA Exam?

I would consider the CMA Exam to be relatively easier than the CPA Exam, as the CMA Exam only has two parts. Compared to the 4 sections of the CPA Exam that total 16 hours, the CMA Exam simply has less testable content. Each CMA Exam part will consist of 100 multiple-choice questions and two 30-minute essay questions, and you will have 4 hours in total to complete each exam part. That’s a lot less in comparison to the length and question volume of the CPA Exam.

I've passed my CPA Exam - how much content overlaps between the CPA and CMA exams?

Congratulations on passing your CPA Exam! If you’d like to pursue your CMA certification, the good news is that CMA Exam content overlaps with topics on the BEC section of the CPA Exam. Additionally, topics on external financial reporting decisions on the CMA Exam are similar to the financial accounting basics covered in the FAR section of CPA; but, it’s important to note that the CMA Exam tests these topics in more depth. Having studied for one of these exams can certainly give you a leg up on the other. 

Are there additional education requirements for earning the CMA vs. the CPA?

There are not; to satisfy the education requirements for the CMA Exam, you only need (1) a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or (2) approved professional certifications. You don’t need additional specialized education for the CMA Exam outside of what you’ll need for the CPA Exam.

Which designation would you recommend getting first: CPA or CMA?

It depends on your career preference. If you prefer to start your career in public accounting, the CPA license should probably be your first choice. For those targeting corporate accounting or finance positions at the beginning of their careers, the CMA certification can be a good jumping off point to pursue those roles.

Would you recommend holding both a CMA and a CPA?

Absolutely! While many CPAs choose to practice in public accounting, a large number follow career paths outside of public in areas like corporate accounting, government, academia and the non-profit sector. According to the IMA, the Institute of Management Accountants and the governing body of CMAs, the CMA program was designed to meet the evolving needs of the business by focusing on skills such as strategic thinking, financial analysis and the ability to convert data into dialogue. CMA training can open new doors to CPAs who aspire to build careers outside of the traditional public firm path that hone in on cost and management areas. CPAs who become CMAs may take on roles like financial analyst, budget analyst, cost accountant, controller and many more positions.

What kind of jobs will grant me managerial accounting experience?

Positions that require regular judgments employing the principles of management accounting and financial management would provide experience in managerial accounting, a path that many CMAs embark on. This can include positions that center around the preparation of financial statements, financial planning and analysis, budget preparation and reporting, cost analysis, forecasting, risk evaluation, management information system analysis, and a multitude of other responsibilities.  

What is the difference between CGMA & CMA?

The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) certification was created in early 2012 and is powered by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), the governing body of CPAs, and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). The CGMA is divided into three levels of professional qualification, each of which builds on the previous. Launched in January 2015, the CGMA Exam is a three-hour computerized case study for each level that requires you carry out three to five management accounting tasks.

Due to its well-established reputation, the CMA designation has become internationally recognized outside of the U.S. However, the CGMA is a relatively new credential, the curriculum of which continues to develop. It will likely need a few more years to establish itself in terms of reputation and recognition.

Last words

If you’re passionate about management accounting and gaining a new skill set to help in your accounting career, then earning the CMA certification is the natural course to follow. The CMA designation has been the global benchmark for management accountants and financial professionals for nearly 50 years, and CMAs are found in roles ranging from staff accountant to CFO at some of the largest companies in the world.

Hear about more reasons to pursue the CMA path in the “Why become a CMA?” webcast in Becker’s webcast library.

Read this article to learn more about the benefits of becoming a CMA.

Ready to get started on your CMA journey? Becker’s here to help. Explore Becker’s CMA Exam Review offerings and kickstart your CMA career.

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