I’ve got questions from readers on whether age is a factor in getting the CMA certification — in other words, does it get difficult to pass the CMA exam as we get older, and secondly, does the impact of the CMA title increase or decrease as we age?
It is fair to say that, for any professional exams or any examination for that matter, the younger you are, the easier you pass. This is because examinations often involve memorization, and that when candidates are fresh out of college (or during college), the “book-smartness” is generally higher than those who are out of school.
At the same time, the skill that we gain as we enter the workforce — the experience and expertise gained in the field, is not tested in the exam. It is not that the examiners do not care about this skill set, but that it is pretty hard to “test” your experience…
In other words, the answer is yes, taking the exam later rather than soon is likely a disadvantage.
Based on the above logic, most candidates would have taken the CMA when they are in college or right afterwards. Is this true? I don’t have the statistics, but I bet that most people are actually taking the exam years after college.
The average age of a US CPA candidate is around 29 years old. CMA is a different qualification, but the background of candidates is very similar.
Another reference point: IMA has a “Young Professional Award” and the cut-off age is 33, more than 10 years after most people get their bachelor degrees.
There isn’t a distinct advantage or disadvantage that I can think of, but if you believe that the CMA title can help you make more money as shown in IMA annual salary survey, then yes, your opportunity cost is higher if you postpone your plan of getting certified.
Having said that, the Middle East salary survey has shown that the impact of the certification is the biggest in higher position, and therefore, it is still worth the effort to take the exam and get the designation even when you pass your 30th birthday.
Do you think age is a big factor for this exam? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.
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