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CMA after CPA: Worth the Effort for Another Designation?

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cma after cpaI 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.

My View on CMA After CPA

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.

Are there any CPA Exemptions for CMA?

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.

What Else to Do After CPA?

One can consider taking an MBA. For professional qualifications, here are a few other choices:

The CGMA Designation

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.

The CFA Charter

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.

Here is a Summary in Video Format

Further Reading

Any Questions?

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.

About the Author Stephanie Ng

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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  • Pawandeep Singh Bhandari says:

    hello Sir/Mam,

    I am having approx. four years of experience into Fund accounting and I am working in Genpact India for a US based client “William Blairhttp://www.williamblair.com/ .
    My roles and responsibilities are like :- reconciling of fund like all capital market securities, mutual funds, fund of fund. ledger processing of corporate action and securities pricing with the help of Bloomberg in to client accounting platform.

    In a nutshell I am in to investment management operations reconciliation team and my package is of 6 lakhs.

    Now as per my job experience please advise which course should I opt CPA OR CMA for career advancement and why? Please help me because I am very much confused.

    My qualification is :- BBA of 3 years and PGDM IS OF 2 YEARS. please send me your mail id I will mail you my docs.

  • Zac says:

    Is it possible to sit for the CPA exam if you’ve earned the CMA designation? This is assuming that an individual does not have 150 credit hours has only passed the CMA exam.

  • Aravind Raj Jerome says:

    Hey hi,

    I’m interested in doing CMA US, after which I desire to do ACCA. I basically have a Bachelor degree in Commerce (B.com) which is a 3 year course from India. I have plans to move down to either any of the EU countries or Canada! I’ve just completed the Bachelor degree, looking forward to join CMA US and ACCA! I’d like to know whether CMA US and ACCA is a good plan?
    I plan to do ACCA because it has full legal recognition across EU & EEA. And I plan to do CMA US because it’ll be a added advantage if I move down to Canada and US.
    Kindly help me clarify whether I’ve got good plans?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Aravind, thanks for your note. I am glad you are planning ahead. As you mentioned, CMA is mostly recognized in the US (and also Middle East and China) but ACCA is more recognized in Europe. This is basically correct although you have to know that within Europe, if they have their own designation for accountants, it is most often the priority.

      Another thing is that there is not much synergy between CMA and ACCA. Let’s say if you are to work in the US, then ACCA has little value; or if you work in Europe, then CMA is not as recognized. So it is going to waste 50% of your effort no matter where you work. If you work in India though, both qualification should be beneficial esp for ACCA.

      For Canada, I would go for the Canadian CPA because it is supposed to cover everything for those who work in that country. Hope it helps? Stephanie

  • bhanu prakash says:

    Hi, I’m bhanu prakash I’m preparing for CMA but I want to do CMA also is it right decision please explain me briefly thanks in advance

  • Swapneel Pathak says:

    Hi awesome Stephanie…Big high 5 to you for helping out people here with your knowledge…Sincere gratitude to you for the same dear…

    Well I’m currently pursuing CPA…So my 1st question is that can I get into the finance field with my CPA degree once I pass it & does CPA degree work in the finance field as well?

    Secondly, I have done some research & I believe that CFA has great recognition in & out of USA…I’m looking forward to do my CFA after I’m done with CPA…I’m also in CA Final (CA is an Indian course)…So my 2nd question is that will CFA add value to me after CPA?

    Thirdly, I was thinking about ACCA or masters in finance or maybe MBA Finance…I don’t know which of these course will add value to me…Well I’m thinking about an additional course or further studies after CPA & CFA since that might help me get an edge over others…Which additional course would you suggest me, that will add great value to me globally or even in the US or Canada, and which will help me get a job anywhere in the world? I’m looking forward to be an Investment Banker in the US specifically…So kindly advise me accordingly…

    Lastly, after I pass the US CPA, I guess I just have to give 1 exam additionally to become a Canadian CPA…Can you please share some details about the same with me?

    Well, as of now I’m just focusing on my CPA exams & nothing else…But still I would like to keep exploring & create more awareness…That’s the reason for so many questions…

    Eagerly awaiting your reply…

    God Bless You!

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hello, thanks for your note! On your questions:
      1. CPA is the most versatile qualification within the accounting and finance industry. While it is not focused in finance, if you are looking to become a CFO then it’s definitely useful. But if it is like fund management, research analyst kind of role, then CPA is not as helpful.

      2. It does help if your work is a combination of accounting and finance (such as CFO and most senior finance positions, or say a CFO in a hedge fund house).

      3. It is hard to generalize, but if you are looking specifically at North America, then ACCA is rarely recognized there. For MBA, it depend son the reputation of the school. More info here: http://ipassthecpaexam.com/cpa-vs-mba

      4. I actually don’t know much about this now that the Canada has this new CPA designation…

      Hope it helps! Stephanie

  • rohan says:

    Hey,I am currently doing my cma course just wanted to find out wether the 2 years work experience which i am doing for the cma course will it overlapse for the cpa course work experience?thank you.

  • Binu says:

    Hey ma’am… My name is Binu… N I’m studying bachelors degree…. Can I get cpa after bcom…?

  • Brent says:

    I’ve been trying to find out if any CMA review courses qualify for CPE credits for a currently licensed CPA. So far, the ones I have contacted have said no. Have you come across this before and are you aware of any that may offer that?

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