A Case for the CMA Designation
As a CPA, you possess essential skills, but you may not have the management and analytical experience that employers are currently seeking.
The fact is, the finance and accounting industry appears to have a shortage of employees with the desired management accounting skills and knowledge. Earning your CMA designation may be just what you need to bolster your resume and help your career rise.
There are several similarities between the CMA and CPA, but there are key differences that I would like to point out.
Both certifications require candidates to earn (at minimum) a bachelor’s degree at an accredited school, but the CMA has a much lower barrier of entry compared to the CPA, as candidates aren’t required to have 150 credit hours or minimum accounting courses to qualify for the exam.
Though experience varies by state for the CPA, most states require candidates to have 1-2 years accounting experience under a licensed CPA. The CMA is similar, in that you must have 2 consecutive years of financial management experience in order to qualify.
Depending on where you are employed, your current job experience may qualify you for an exemption from this qualification. A simple explanatory note to the IMA will let you know if they consider your experience valid.
Having earned your CPA already, you understand how grueling the exam can be. The CPA has 4 separate exams focusing on Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Audit and Attestation (AUD), and Regulation (REG). In total, you are looking at 14 hours worth of testing.
The CMA, on the other hand, only has 2 exams; Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance and Control, and Financial Decision Making. You can expect 8 hours of testing in order to complete these two exams.
As you can see from the different exam topics, the CMA exam focuses more on planning, management and helping businesses and corporations make financial decisions, versus the CPA which is focused on tax accounting and auditing.
Currently employers feel there is a shortage of candidates who possess the management and analytical skills that their businesses require, which is what makes earning your CMA even more desirable.
Now is the perfect time to beef up your credentials because there are so many opportunities available to newly minted CMA designates. It can even help you elevate your current practice because you would now be able to provide the analytical and decision making skills that clients need.
The average salary of a CMA designate is also continuously growing, making it a financially lucrative decision for you personally.
Having spent hard earned years attaining your CPA, this may seem like a fruitless mission, however, you meet most of the CMA requirements already. In addition to your current education and experience (pending approval from the IMA), you would only have to become an IMA member, prepare and take the exam.
If you are looking to give yourself a new challenge, transition into a more management based role or pivot your career, the CMA could be an incredible advantageous move for you. Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.
Nathan Liao is the founder of CMA Exam Academy, a top Certified Management Accountant exam review program. As a CMA and CMA coach, Nathan mentors accounting and finance professionals in over 80 countries to earn their CMA certification in as little as 8 months.