I got an email from fellow reader Sarah last week on whether a CMA certification makes sense after getting her CPA. Here is my answer. Thought some of you would be interested to find out.
Hi Sarah, thanks for your note. This is an interesting question, and a very good one. I guess the most value add for a CMA certification for existing CPA is how he/she is equipped in working in management accounting, in particular the costing area. Either the CPA qualification and the external audit job doesn’t cover much on management accounting, and CMA can fill the gap.
Different industries seem to value the CMA certification quite differently as well. For manufacturing companies where costing and inventory analysis is critical, there tend to be more CMAs in the company and therefore, the certification is more valued.
In service oriented companies where costing analysis is less important, CMA is understandably less recognized.
In theory the knowledge we learn through the CMA program is applicable and important to all industry; but the above is my observation in real world situation.
The CPA requirements are more than sufficient for the CMA program qualification. So there is no problem on eligibility. On whether you can waive any part of the CMA exam, it hasn’t been possible after the format was changed from a 4-part to a 2-part exam. Realistically, it is hard to expect one can waive an exam part when there are only two.
One can consider taking an MBA. For professional qualifications, here are a few other choices:
AICPA has joined hands with CIMA to create a new designation called the CGMA. Between the inception and end of 2014, AICPA members can “pay” for this designation as long as they fulfill the experience requirements.
If you are an existing CPA, this is almost a no-brainer and because of this you may choose not to pursue the CMA certification.
However, since January 2015, candidates must go through the CGMA exam. This exam is developed by CIMA involving in-depth case studies. The format is very different from anything you see in US professional exams (be it CPA or CMA). In fact, I believe it looks more like a huge task-based simulation. In case you are wondering, CGMA exam review courses are not available at this stage.
Given this uncertainty on the CGMA exam, I would probably stick with the US CMA exam if you determine to get a management accounting certification.
There are also professionals who want a dual CPA CFA qualification to show their expertise in both accounting and finance. My husband John is one of them and this has proved to be helpful for his career. It takes a lot of effort to get another qualification, especially that it typically takes 4 years to pass the 3-level exam.
Unlike the CMA and CPA exams, the CFA exam has a specific timetable with only 2 exam dates each year. If you are interested to explore further, it is best to check the calendar now and mark down the deadlines.
If you would like to continue the conversation or if you have any questions on CMA after CPA, drop a note below and I’d love to discuss further.
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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