Finance professionals who consider pursuing the CMA will certainly think about MBA vs other accounting certifications. We have a debate on CPA vs CMA here, and now let’s discuss whether one should pursue MBA or the CMA certification.
In terms of gaining knowledge, a 1-2 year curriculum offered by any MBA program should be more thorough than a 6-12 month self-study course required by the CMA exam. also, an MBA is based in theoretical work, but more importantly, it is a great networking opportunity.
Once you get your MBA, the knowledge and title is yours for the rest of the career. For CMA however, after getting certified you will have to pay an annual fee and fulfill the necessary CPE requirements. The amount isn’t much but it can be a hassle.
CMA does not get close to the perceived importance of the MBA, even with the MBA becoming somewhat commoditized.
Some recruiters do suggest getting a CMA instead because it is faster and less expensive to get the credentials. You can take the exam before getting your college degree and get your certificate right after the 2 years of experience.
If you are looking for management accounting jobs especially in the manufacturing sector, people do seem to appreciate the CMA qualification.
Here is a video looking at a bigger-picture comparison of CMA vs master’s degrees, including MBA, MCOM and Master’s in Accounting and other related fields:
In a way, I see the MBA and CMA quite differently: MBA is an academic degree while CMA is a professional designation. For MBA, the critical point is where you are getting the MBA from. An MBA from Harvard is quite likely better than a CMA qualification alone, but an MBA from an unknown school or “diploma mill” will be of little use.
In terms of the practical question of which designation will help find a job, it is complicated because an MBA or CMA alone should not be the deciding factor. The educational and more importantly working experience counts a lot too, so do the performance during the interviews.
Having both is certainly a “win-win” strategy that works for many people, but then, either MBA or CMA require a significant commitment for one to pursue.
At the end of the day, the school or the designation is not what gets you the job – you are!
What’s your view on CMA vs MBA? Drop us a note below.
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