A Certified Management Accountant or CMA is an accounting professional that combines strategic planning and management with traditional financial accounting. The average salary for a CMA is around $85,000 per year, but there are many factors that can determine CMA salary such as experience, location, specific CMA job description and more.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about CMA requirements, exams, salary ranges, and jobs.

What Does a CMA Do?

A certified management accountant can function in many different roles within a company. A CMA can perform the regular duties of a cost accountant, but can also inform strategic decisions about the numbers they’ve crunched. A CMA can be found in public or private companies, doing corporate, consulting, or other forms of management accounting. 

CMA Job Description & Responsibilities

  • Budgeting
  • Reporting & Presenting financial analysis
  • Forecasting
  • Mentor accounting teams
  • Strategize to decrease spending and increase revenue
  • Advise on investments
  • Work closely with management and executive teams

CMA Career Path

Not only does a CMA enjoy higher salaries and more varied positions than a traditional accountant, a CMA is also in a unique slot for advancement opportunities. The managerial experience makes a CMA the ideal candidate for a controller, VP of Finance, Chief Operating Officer (COO), or Chief Executive Officer position. Often a company may groom an accountant to become CMA certified and to prepare them for a future role in executive management.

Certified Management Accountant Salary

CMA Salary, like any other job, will be contingent on many factors. Education, experience, location, type of company, bonuses, and advancement opportunities can adjust CMA salary up and down.

Job Title Salary
Entry Level CPA $60,000
Entry Level CMA $80,000
Experienced CPA $100,000
Experienced CMA $125,000

CPA vs. CMA

As you can see, both CPAs and CMAs are well compensated in today’s market, but a CMA will nearly always make more money due to the added value they bring to the table. According to the CMA Exam Academy, a CMA will make 47% more than an accountant without additional certifications. 

Should you get certified as a CPA or a CMA? Should you hire a CPA or a CMA? There are a lot of common skills between the two designations but the differences can be pivotal. 

CPA
focuses on audits, taxes, and general accounting. Must work with a mentor CPA and log more hours each year in continuing education.
CMA
utilizes strategy and management skills in the application of accounting, requires two years of work experience and a more intense exam process

Certified Management Accountant Requirements

Gaining the designation of CMA is a significant challenge, because there is so much to learn in the realms of both accounting and management. The requirements to become a CMA are varied across concrete obstacles (certification) as well as personal characteristics (an analytical brain). 

  • Bachelors Degree
  • 2 years work experience
  • 6-24 months to study for the CMA exam
  • Interest in finance
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to work in diverse teams
  • Analytical skills
  • Understanding of business strategy
  • Detail-oriented
  • Honesty & Integrity

How to Become a CMA

If you are interested in becoming a CMA, or you’re an executive looking to develop one of your employees into a CMA role, it’s a relatively straightforward process. That’s not to say it’s easy to become a CMA, but the path can be very clear. 

  1. Earn a Bachelors Degree. Unlike a CPA or MBA, the type of Bachelors Degree doesn’t matter for a CMA certification. No matter what type of degree you’ve earned you can move forward to become a CMA. 
  2. Two Years of Work Experience. The CMA exam can be taken anytime, but the certification will not be awarded until candidates have completed at least two years of work experience. 
  3. Study. The CMA exam is long and detailed, and requires a lot of preparation. Some candidates study while working a full time job, and therefore can only dedicate a few hours each week. It may take up to two years to complete their preparation. Working part time or as a full time student you could prepare for the CMA exam in about six months. There are a variety of courses, study manuals, and prep classes to meet your needs. 
  4. Pay Fees. There are three fees required for CMA certification – IMA membership, CMA entrance fees, and the CMA exam fee. As a student you will pay about $600, while a professional member will pay over $900. 
  5. Pass CMA Exam. The exam is administered in two parts, three times per year. Both parts must be passed for certification. 

Some individuals find that preparing for the CMA exam while completing their college degree is the most effective route, planning to work two years and gain official designation once the experience component is complete. Others want to graduate, get some work experience, and then determine if the CMA route is right for them. Experienced accountants may find the path to CMA much easier, as they have more extensive knowledge and may require less study.  

TIP: Many organizations will pay fees and carve out time for their employees to earn a CMA designation. Try talking with your boss or head of finances to see if your company is open to sponsoring your CMA certification.

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