In order to earn the Certified Management Accountant certification, you must meet several CMA requirements, one of which is the experience requirement.
The CMA certification represents expertise in the field of management accounting, and candidates can only acquire some of this expertise through hands-on experience in a professional setting.
For this reason, the IMA has established the CMA experience requirements.
So, to determine if your professional experience satisfies these requirements, learn more about them and answer some simple questions about your experience.
At the most basic level, the CMA experience requirements call for certification candidates to have 2 continuous years of professional experience in management accounting and/or financial management.
Additionally, you can complete this requirement at any time before you sit for the CMA exam or within 7 years after you sit for the CMA exam.
The IMA also permits candidates to use time spent teaching to fulfill the experience requirement.
For your teaching to count as professional management accounting/financial management experience, you must have done it full-time.
Also, 60% of your course load must have involved teaching advanced accounting or finance (classes above the principles level) over a 2-year period.
Your professional experience in management accounting and/or financial management must last for 2 continuous years. Furthermore, it must be relevant, involve analysis, and be completed within a permanent hire position.
Consequently, you should ask these questions about your experience to determine if it meets the appropriate specifications.
The CMA Candidate Handbook (p.5) states:
Qualifying experience consists of positions requiring judgments regularly made employing the principles of management accounting and financial management. Such employment includes:
- Preparation of financial statements
- Financial planning and analysis
- Monthly, quarterly and year end close
- Auditing (external or internal)
- Budget preparation and reporting
- Manage general ledger and balance sheets
- Company investment decision making
- Costing analysis
- Risk evaluation
So, as you can see, the IMA’s definition of relevant is quite broad. Therefore, acquiring relevant work experience should not be too difficult for accounting and finance professionals.
Your professional experience must involve analysis.
So, as long as you were involved in the analyzing of financial statements and their impact on the company, or if you participated in analysis and reporting that aided investment management and decision-making, you can count your work experience.
Therefore, you could have acquired your IMA-approved work experience within the external audit, internal audit, or financial analysis departments of your company.
However, if your work focused on repetitive tasks such as preparing and uploading journal entries, the IMA probably won’t approve it, as such work does not involve analysis.
Also, if your work only occasionally utilized management accounting principles, then it won’t satisfy this requirement either.
For example, if you worked in computer operations, sales and marketing, manufacturing, engineering, personnel, or general management, you wouldn’t have used the principles of management accounting enough.
But, if you have multiple roles, e.g. a manager with both administrative and also technical job responsibilities, you should emphasize the technical side of your job in your work verification form.
Finally, the IMA also expects you to gain your work experience while working full-time.
For example, the IMA does not accept experience gained from internships or trainee, clerical, or non-technical positions. And as mentioned, your professional experience must last for 2 consecutive years.
But, the IMA does accept experience gained in continuous part-time work so long as part-time consisted of at least 20 hours a week. At that point, part-time work equals full-time work at a rate of one year of experience for every 2 years of part-time employment.
Is the IMA very strict with their approval of the CMA experience requirements?
Based on the shared experiences of my readers, I don’t believe so. In fact, the IMA seems to be among the most flexible certification administrators in terms of approving professional experience requirements.
Three factors serve as evidence of the IMA’s leniency.
First, the IMA’s definition of relevance is broad.
In contrast, other niche accounting qualifications such as the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification and the Certified Information System Analyst (CISA) designation require applicants to accumulate work in internal audit and IT auditor specifically. But, that is not the case with the CMA.
Second, the IMA does not specify exactly what you must do in your role within the organization.
In comparison, the CFA work experience requirements state that a candidate’s work must involve investment decision-making 50% of the time.
Third, the IMA isn’t very strict about who can verify your work.
For this reason, as long as your verifier is your supervisor, the IMA doesn’t concern itself with this person’s background. Conversely, in regards to the CPA license, most state boards require the verifier to be both your supervisor AND an active CPA licensee.
Moreover, the IMA is even quite flexible in handling special cases.
For example, I had a reader who had been running her own company for 16 years. She sent her job description to the IMA, and they approved her experience as relevant.
Therefore, I encourage that you check with the IMA directly if you aren’t sure whether they will count your work experience.
In order to get the CMA certification, you must fill out a work verification form and send it to the IMA via email.
And if you have any other questions about the CMA experience requirements, you can email the IMA at email@example.com or call at 800-638-4427.
Then, ask to speak to the exam certification assistant, as she can help you get any info you need.
Now that you know how to fulfill the CMA experience requirement, you must take the necessary steps to fulfill it. Taking these steps may mean requesting a new placement within your company or even looking for a new job.
And if you want even more guidance for the CMA journey, sign up for my e-course. It tells you how to pass the CMA exam, and it’s completely free!
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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