How to Become a Certified Management Accountant

certificed managment accountant, CMAWhen you’re building a career in accounting, look into earning a professional certification after you finish your degree. A certification is usually a requirement for advancement in the accounting field. An associate or bachelor’s degree in accounting may get you in the door, but a certification will help you move up the ladder.

The most common accounting certifications are the CPA or CMA. We will look at the CPA in depth in another article. This article is going to look at the Certified Management Accounting (CMA) certification.

Why Choose the CMA

While the CPA and CMA certifications do have some overlap, CPAs most often focus on public accounting and CMAs work for companies in management accounting and financial management. CMAs lean more toward organizational performance measurement, financial analysis and budgeting as well as strategic assessments.

CMAs find positions as part of the management teams for organizations or corporations. They research, analyze and make accounting and financial management recommendations and decisions for organizations.

The Certified Management Accountant is a globally recognized certification, with the same knowledge, exam and qualifications across states and countries. They have demonstrated their knowledge of financial planning, analysis, control, decision support and professional ethics.

Potential job titles for those with a CMA certification include:

  • Staff accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Budget analyst
  • Internal auditor
  • Finance manager
  • Vice president of finance
  • Chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Chief executive officer (CEO)

Requirements to Become a CMA

The CMA certification is offered through IMA, the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business. The requirements to earn a CMA include:

  • Membership in IMA
  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Two years of professional experience in management accounting or financial management
  • Enter the CMA program through IMA
  • Complete and pass both parts of the CMA Exam

To maintain their certification, CMAs are required to complete 30 hours of continuing professional education each year, with at least two hours in ethics.

The CMA Exam

The exam consists of two parts, each exam is four hours in length.

Part one covers financial planning, performance and control.

  • Planning, budgeting and forecasting
  • Performance management
  • Cost management
  • Internal controls
  • Professional ethics

Part two covers financial decision making.

  • Financial statement analysis
  • Corporate finance
  • Decision analysis and risk management
  • Investment decisions
  • Professional ethics

The exams are taken one at a time, but can be taken in any order. One exam must be taken within the first 12 months of entering the program and both must be completed within 3 years.

The CMA is a valuable certification and earning one takes significant time and effort. There are study materials available and you may be able to find classes to help. Earning a CMA is a great step in advancing your accounting or financial career.