The title of Certified Management Accountant is one of the many honors to which an accountant can aspire, representing both experience and deep knowledge in accounting theory and practice. Since there are many similar awards, it is useful to know what each title represents.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) can be achieved by those who hold bachelor’s degrees, have two years of work experience, pass a two-part exam and meet professional conduct and continuing education standards. Duties typically include oversight of other accounting personnel and management of high-level accounting data. The Institute of Management Accountants, which produces the CMA exam, notes that the two parts of the exam may be taken in any order, but must be completed within three years. Each part is four hours in length, consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions and two essay questions; Part One covers financial planning and control, while Part Two covers financial decision-making. It also notes that those who hold a CMA earn an average of 1/3 more than accountants without the certification. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that certified accountants have better job prospects, with overall job growth for accountants projected at 13% through 2020.
It may seem as if being a Certified Management Accountant is a lower honor than being a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA. Certainly, the CPA appears more frequently in degree information and on the professional listings of local accountants than does the CMA. Further, the CMA only requires a bachelor’s degree, while almost all states consider those who will sit for the four-part CPA exam to have formal study past a bachelor’s, they usually have 30 hours of additional coursework, which frequently includes master’s program or the equivalent. The CMA, however, consider those who pursue it to have two years of work experience in the field of accounting, while the CPA does not.
In addition, the Institute of Management Accountants notes that in 2014, less than half of those who sat for the exam passed it. The relatively low pass rate suggests that the exam is exceptionally rigorous. Instead, it takes substantial preparation and deep-seated knowledge and expertise, making the achievement of a CMA an accomplishment, indeed.
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There are other certifications available, of course, and nothing prevents a person from holding more than one. Many people do, in fact, becoming certified as public accountants and internal auditors. Being a Certified Management Accountant, as with the others, takes a considerable high level of skill and professionalism, marking those who hold the CMA as well worth hiring, now and in years to come.