Why become a CMA? Becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) means expending lots of time, effort and money, so is it worth it? What’s the value of becoming a CMA?
Here are 5 good reasons to pursue the CMA.
Your aunts and neighbors may have never heard of the CMA, but in the corporate accounting world, CMA is a very respected designation.
The CMA is an advanced professional certification specifically designed to measure the critical accounting and financial management skills. This is especially relevant for success in a business environment.
Here are some tangible benefits you can enjoy after becoming a CMA.
The CIMA is the largest in this niche, but the vast majority of members are located in the UK and to a lesser extent Europe and Commonwealth countries.
The number of US CMAs is smaller, but the certification is now the most popular management accounting certification not only in the US but also in the fastest developing regions, namely China and the Middle East. As you can see from the chart extracted from the August 2014 edition of Strategic Finance, almost half of the new CMA candidates came from the Middle East (UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan), and almost 1/4 from the Asia Pacific (China and India).
Let’s face it — we want to learn, but ultimately, we need the certification to get better-paying jobs. According to a comprehensive study by the IMA, CMA certification holders earn 67% more than their non-certified counterparts.
Various industry journals have indicated that 80% of accountants end up in non-public accounting. The management accounting knowledge and skills are in fact more useful for these professionals. Additionally, many dual CPA and CMA holders find the materials covered by the CMA more interesting and practical in their daily work.
Unlike the CPA Exam in which getting qualified is sometimes harder than passing the exam itself, the IMA (the CMA exam administrator) keeps things clear, simple, and organized for applicants. The IMA openly welcomes international candidates with the exam offered in hundreds of locations worldwide.
Don’t get me wrong — earning the CMA is not easier because of a low barrier of entry. Candidates are still required to have a bachelors degree, pass a rigorous exam, and secure 2 continuous years of management accounting experience to get certified.
However, the IMA makes the process of becoming a CMA as smooth as possible. Candidates can focus on passing the exam and fulfilling the experience instead of getting stuck with the bureaucracy and conflicting rules from different state boards like those involved in the CPA certification process.
Let’s see if the CMA certification benefits YOUR career.
“Within the Finance department at J&J, the CMA is a highly regarded certification. The content of the CMA exam mirrors real-world applications used across the corporate finance and accounting functions.” – Ryan Perkins, CMA, Senior Financial Analyst at Johnson & Johnson
(Source: Strategic Finance Magazine, April 2015)
Please grab a pen and paper and write down:
Then, look at this list and see if these are the companies you’d like to work for. These fortune 500 companies are known to have CMAs in their key management roles:
You will notice that the majority are big, global corporations focused in manufacturing. If your ideal workplace is on the list above, then the CMA is great for you.
If you aren’t sure, then the CMA certification may not be good for you, at least at this stage. There is very little use if you aspire to work in a public accounting firm either as an auditor or in tax.
On the other hand, if you want to build your career in corporate accounting, the certification greatly enhances your profile and knowledge in the field.
It’s nice to know the 60%+ salary premium CMAs enjoy and that CMAs are in low supply. But honestly, does this average figure mean much?
Probably not, because the demand for CMAs is different in different regions across the US and around the world.
So how do you know if the CMA is valued in your area?
It’s time for research. Check out online recruiting sites such as Monster.com and Indeed.com, or other equivalent sites in your home country.
Then, type in “certified management accountant” and see if there are jobs that pop up in your area (“CMA” is likely too broad because it covers “certified medical assistant” and a few other certifications).
For example, Monster.com lists out 148 jobs in New Jersey based on “certified management accountant”. You should be able to find more listings using a variety of keywords.
Take a look at the industry, job description, and salary range. See if these opportunities excite you.
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You may also be interested in signing up for my mini e-course to plan, study, and pass the CMA exam on your first attempt (click the link for details on the mini-course):
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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