CMA (Certified Management Accountant) is a professional credential offered by IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) in the management accounting profession. More than 30,000 people have enrolled in the IMA from its inception. The current fiscal year 2013 has seen around 2,800 professionals receive their CMA credentials – the most in any year since IMA’s inception in 1972. Also, around 18,000 candidates are pursuing their CMA from around the world. (Source: imanet.org)
The CMA qualification comes with the following merits:
Global Recognition – CMA is the highest management accounting qualification in the US. The CMA credential begins with a membership to IMA, thus providing global opportunities with very high prospects, in the field of management accounting and financial decision making. IMA has mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) with multiple professional organizations around the world, thus making it easier for candidates around the globe to obtain the CMA credential. Accountants with the CMA certificate are wanted on key financial roles at a global level.
Strong Knowledge Base – The CMA exam comprises of two parts – one on financial planning, analysis and control and the other on financial decision making. Each part provides for a variety of topics like management accounting, cost accounting, auditing, professional ethics, decision making and the like. Thus, the CMA qualification provides for candidates to obtain a very strong knowledge base on key management areas and enables managers to grasp an idea of the accounting side of business. CMA material is also very relevant in real world situations not only in financial accounting and management but also in areas like information technology.
Ease of Entry – Never the least reason, CMA is one of the easiest professional courses to gain entry into. To qualify for the CMA exams, candidates need to possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, as opposed to other professional courses that require a certain number of credit hours to be completed to gain entry for exams.
Cost and Effort – For all the benefits reaped, CMA certification comes at a very reasonable cost. The cost is broken down as IMA membership fees, exam fees and certification fees, which totals to approximately $1100. IMA has very attractive discounts time to time, thereby enabling candidates to avail those discounts and obtain certification at less than $1000. This compares to other professional accounting certifications that go over $1500 or more.
The time and efforts required from a candidate are also less, as compared to other professional qualifications. Any professional degree requires a certain amount of keen interest and preparation from the candidates. With that background, CMA can be completed within 6 months from the time of enrollment with about 300-400 hours of study. This compares to other professional certificates that require around one year or more with about 600-800 hours of study.
Career Opportunities/Further Education – Most professionals choose CMA for career advancement. CMA prepares an accountant to be a world-class financial leader. Accountants with a CMA certification find a plethora of jobs in the management area, especially in the fields of financial performance and decision making. CMAs are also equipped with the necessary analytical skills, so as to be absorbed in key roles involving strategic management decisions. Some of the areas in which CMAs are employed are strategic planning, marketing, financial analysis, banking etc.
From a fresher’s perspective, CMA provides a kick start to students wanting to have a special focus in the accounting industry. CMA also provides a wrap up or pathway to accounting professionals seeking a global MBA or CPA. Thus, it can be seen that the CMA qualification is a very widely accepted and recognized certification with a career in a global platform.