If you’re a professional interested in learning how to become a CMA so you can enhance your career with this prestigious certification, this guide is for you.
The first 5 steps involve important decisions you must make before beginning the application process. Step 6-12 reveal exactly what you need to do to register, plan for, study for, and pass the exam in order to earn the certification.
The first step is NOT about filling out application forms and paying the fees.
The CMA certification is granted by a US institution called the Institute of Management Accountants, or the IMA. In order to take the exam and maintain active status as a CMA, you must first become an IMA member.
What do you gain as an IMA member? Besides the ticket to the CMA exam, does it help in networking and developing your skill as a management accountant?
The answer is yes, and you can learn more in these articles.
Getting this certification requires a substantial investment of time and effort. Please take a moment to consider how the CMA is going to help you in your personal and career development and whether this qualification is the best choice for you given your background and aspirations. These articles will help you take this step.
Now that you are certain that earning the CMA is the way to go, can you handle the exam itself? What does it test anyway, and how difficult is it? Learn more about how hard the exam is and what it covers in these articles.
Short term consideration: Earning the CMA will cost around $2,000. Can you afford the exam fees? Discover the exam fees in these articles.
Long term consideration: Can the title help you negotiate a higher salary? Get the answer to that question in these articles.
Good news: the rules are quite standard. Candidates are required to have a bachelors degree from any of the “recognized” universities around the world and in any discipline.
Please follow these steps to determine your eligibility:
In the event that your school is not listed, you can still get your transcript evaluated by one of the credential evaluation agencies and send an official transcript to the IMA for reference.
Once you confirm your interest and eligibility for the exam, you may join the IMA as a professional member.
If you are a current student (defined as taking at least 6 credit hours this semester), check out the student discount. The student discount applies to candidates around the world.
Here are the steps:
In the online application form, you will be asked to fill out your personal and professional information, such as other professional credentials, education, job title, and responsibilities, and pay the annual fee by credit card. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.
Joining the IMA membership does NOT automatically kick off the CMA exam process. In order to do that, you need to enroll in the CMA program. Many candidates join the membership and CMA program at the same time (i.e. Step 6 and 7 together), but it is not mandatory.
You should join the CMA program only when you are ready to take the exam. Once you enroll in the program and pay the entrance fee, you must:
Here are the steps for enrollment:
After enrolling in the CMA program, you may register for the exam. The examination consists of 2 parts:
It does not matter which part you take first. I suggest that you take the part you feel most comfortable with. If confident enough, you can even take the two parts within the same testing window. The testing windows are
You may choose to register online, by phone with credit card information, or by mailing / faxing the registration form.
Here are the steps:
Articles for your reference:
Upon successful registration, you can schedule the date and time of the exam parts at Prometric centers in the US and around the world. The centers are open every weekday during the testing windows.
You can typically cancel an appointment within 72 hours. A refund (minus a $25 administrative fee) is available within 30 days of registration.
New candidates joining the CMA program receive a 6-month free access to the Exam Support Package on the IMA Learning Center beginning on the day you pay the entrance fee (see Step 7 above).
This package includes a glossary of terms and downloadable and printable multiple-choice and essay practice questions.
To increase your chance of exam success, I highly recommend that you get additional learning tools from a CMA review course. Here are the pros and cons of the major providers and my recommendation:
As a CMA candidate, you must have two continuous years of professional experience in management accounting or financial management. Part-time work is accepted, but internships and training programs are not.
After completing the two parts of the CMA exam and fulfilling the experience requirement, you may apply for the CMA certificate.
CMAs are required to take 30 hours of CPE (continuing professional education), 2 of which must be in the area of ethics. You should also expect to pay the annual membership fee to maintain your certification.
This video summarizes how to become a CMA.
I know the process sounds complicated, but once you take the first step toward becoming a CMA, it’s completely doable. I am more than happy to help you along the way!
If you found this article helpful, please consider signing up for my mini-course, which is completely free. You can learn more about this mini e-course here.
Join us if you want to get tips on how to plan,
study and pass your CMA exam on your first attempt!
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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