What is a CMA in Accounting? Why & How to Get a CMA
What is a CMA in accounting?
A Certified Management Accountant, or CMA, is a professional designation in the accounting world that is highly acclaimed around the globe. The Certified Management Accountant certification is often regarded as the gold standard of management accounting, as the certification denotes the mastery of skills and knowledge that are critical to this field. This CMA is recognized abroad, as it is a universal accreditation that does not require retesting in different jurisdictions. The job outlook for CMAs is positive, with the amount of new CMAs growing 17% globally since 2019.
Who gets a CMA?
Accountants who are passionate about the field of management accounting, interested in specializing their accounting career paths and who want career flexibility should consider pursuing the Certified Management Accountant certification.
Many CPAs pursue a CMA on top of their current license, especially if they are interested in pivoting their careers towards the direction of financial management.
How to get a CMA Certification: the basics
The CMA is bestowed by the IMA, the Institute of Management Accountants, the governing body for management accounting.
If you’re wondering how to get a CMA certification, a few different steps are involved. Earning a CMA entails certain education prerequisites, proven work experience, an active IMA membership, and other requirements. Candidates must also pass the two parts of the CMA Exam in order to become fully certified. The CMA Exam tests across different disciplines related to management accounting, and passing the exam sections help to validate your understanding of key financial processes. Part 1 of the CMA Exam focuses largely on aspects of financial planning, while part 2 is centered around financial management.
Some topics the CMA Exam sections test across include:
- Cost management
- Internal controls
- Risk management
Certified Management Accountant: Jobs
Accountants who earn their CMA title go on to work in a multitude of industries and hold a diverse range of job titles across the working world. Additionally, embarking on a CMA career path can help you increase your accounting skillset.
Most CMAs work with upper level management staff at a given firm or company and take on a major role in making key choices for the company’s finances.
Certified Management Accountant jobs can include many different career avenues. Here are some of the many roles that CMAs can venture into:
- Financial analyst
- Cost accountant
- Managerial accountant
- Corporate accountant
The career possibilities unlocked once a CMA certification is earned are wide-ranging.
How long does it take to get your CMA certification?
According to the IMA, passing the CMA Exam typically takes “12-18 months to complete both parts, on average,” and has a "worldwide pass rate" of 45% across parts 1 and 2 of the CMA Exam.
The IMA also recommends studying approximately 150-170 hours per exam section. In addition to passing the exams, candidates must also fulfill the education requirements of a Bachelor's degree or a professional accounting certification and 2 years of relevant work experience to become fully certified.
Is a CMA worth it?
So, is a CMA worth it after all? There are many reasons that accountants should consider pursuing a CMA. Obtaining the CMA certification has the potential to give you more confidence in your accounting career. See what the IMA has to say about why pursuing a CMA could prove valuable to your accounting career.
Earning a CMA can provide numerous benefits to an accountant’s career -here are just a few of the many opportunities that a CMA might come across:
Professional advancement: Boost your professional outlook - passing the CMA Exam demonstrates your knowledge of financial management processes, which can diversify your toolbox of accounting skills. Certified Management Accountant jobs often deal with working alongside C-suite executives to make important financial decisions for a given company. This experience is a great resumé addition and another notch on your professional belt.
Expand your knowledge: Make yourself indispensable to any company with the skillset you’ll acquire from becoming a CMA. A CMA’s responsibilities are often more specialized than a general accountant’s job description, and performing tasks like budget analysis and planning will expand your professional capabilities, as you’ve shown you have the capacity to understand a company’s inner financial workings.
Prestige and recognition: You’ll gain a sense of personal satisfaction when you achieve your Certified Management Accountant certification. Earning the CMA is an honor and a distinction that few accountants can say that they have, and one that demands perseverance and acumen. Adding the Certified Management Accountant title alongside your name is a distinguished accomplishment that signifies your dedication to and expertise in the field of management accounting to the larger professional world.
International acclaim: The CMA certification transcends borders, and is known as the “global benchmark for management accountants and financial professionals,” as it is well-received around the world. CMAs benefit from their accreditation when they go abroad, as the certification is not exclusive to one country. This makes it an ideal choice for candidates who have hopes of one day living or working abroad.
How can I start on my way to CMA?
You’ll want to study with a top-notch review provider for the highest chances of success in passing the CMA Exam. Becker has been in the accounting space for more than 60 years and is a strategic partner of the IMA, the association that oversees the credentials of Certified Management Accountants.
Becker offers comprehensive and modern review materials that include top-notch content and feature expert instructors to get you over the hurdle of passing both of your CMA exams. To get started on your path to becoming a Certified Management Accountant, explore Becker's all-in-one CMA review packages.
If you’re still wondering about how to get your CMA certification, check out some of the requirements on the Becker blog.
Becker CMA Exam Review is not available in Nevada.