Prepare for the CMA Exam With an MBA

The CMA (Certified Management Accountant) credential serves as a career booster in the management accounting profession.

CMAs usually work in accounting, corporate finance and strategy. Their job duties include analyzing data for performance improvement, preparing budget analysis statements and proposing ways to improve a company’s financial condition. Cost accountant, risk manager, FP&A manager and financial strategist are examples of positions for Certified Management Accountants.

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) notes, “CMAs can explain the ‘why’ behind the numbers, not just the ‘what.'” This ability can lead to “greater credibility, higher earning potential, and ultimately a seat at the leadership table.”

CMA certification is not required to work as a management accountant, yet over 75,000 professionals have earned it since the program’s inception in 1972, according to IMA.

Taking and passing the exam can mean a significant time and financial commitment, but the payoff can be lucrative in the long run. Findings from IMA’s 2019 U.S. Salary Survey showed that the median yearly salary for CMAs exceeds that for non-CMAs by $26,500.

CMA Certification Process

To earn CMA certification, candidates must pass two exams taken in any order, show two continuous years of professional experience and sign up for a CMA membership.

The CMA exam covers 12 competencies in two exams. Part 1 is Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics and includes External Financial Reporting Decisions (15%); Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting (20%); Performance Management (20%); Cost Management (15%); Internal Controls (15%); and Technology and Analytics (15%).

Part 2 covers Strategic Financial Management and includes Financial Statement Analysis (20%); Corporate Finance (20%); Decision Analysis (25%); Risk Management (10%); Investment Decisions (10%); and Professional Ethics (15%).

To be eligible for CMA certification, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or an ICMA-approved certification. Two years of continuous work experience in management accounting and/or financial management and successful completion of parts 1 and 2 of the CMA exam are required. The full list of eligibility criteria includes active membership in IMA and compliance with the IMA statement of ethical professional practice.

On average, it takes candidates 12 to 18 months to complete both parts of the exam, and they are allowed up to three years to complete both parts. IMA recommends 150-170 hours of study time for each part.

Earning your CMA has the following costs:

  • Annual IMA membership fees of $39 for students, $135 for academics, and $245 for professionals
  • CMA program fees of $188 for students or academics and $250 for professionals
  • Exam fees of $311 per part for students or academics and $415 per part for professional members

In addition, maintaining CMA certification requires paying the CMA Annual Fee and fulfilling your annual CPE requirement.

Completing an advanced degree program such as the University of Southern Indiana online MBA with a concentration in Accounting can help students gear up for the CMA exam and certification. Core courses in the MBA program include topics like financial management, managerial economics and accounting for decision-making. The accounting concentration equips students with management accounting tools and the ability to interpret financial statements, as well as essential knowhow on regulatory and compliance issues related to accounting. Earning an MBA comes with the added benefit of leadership preparation for accounting managerial roles.

USI’s 30 credit-hour MBA program is offered completely online and can be completed in as few as 11 months.

Learn more about USI’s online MBA program with a concentration in Accounting.


Accounting Institute for Success: What Is a CMA and What Do They Do?

Institute of Management Accountants (IMA): CMA Certification

IMA: CMA Handbook – Your Guide to Information and Requirements for CMA Certification

IMA: Number of New CMAs, Total Members Reaches All-Time High

IMA: IMA’s 2019 U.S. Salary Survey

IMA: CMA Handbook – Your Guide to Information and Requirements for CMA Certification

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