Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Vs. CPA

Feb 27, 2019

Comparing Certified Management Accountant (CMA) to CPA

Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) both work in the financial sector. They have comparable education requirements, although CPAs make a slightly higher salary than CMAs.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2018)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
CMA Bachelor's degree, certification $60,000 10% (accountants and auditors)
CPA Bachelor's degree, certification $63,243 10% (accountants and auditors)

Sources: *PayScale; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of CMA vs. CPA

CMAs and CPAs are both accountants, so they both work with financial data regularly. They are both qualified for a number of professional roles, so some may share more similar duties than others. It's most common for CPAs to focus on tasks like performing audits or doing taxes. They may also work with law enforcement and evaluate financial data to identify criminal activity. CMAs typically focus on working for businesses and using financial data to help their company make operational decisions. Their work tends to involve tasks like overseeing investments, producing recommendations on how to increase business profits and identifying ways to reduce business expenses.


CMAs are accountants who are experts in financial accounting. They have the skills needed to work in a number of finance-related occupations. They must follow a set of ethical guidelines in their work. Analytical skills are also very important for the work that CMAs do. They primarily work in offices, and with experience they may be able to advance to executive or financial leadership roles.

Job responsibilities of a CMA include:

  • Evaluating financial data
  • Forming conclusions using financial data
  • Producing business recommendations
  • Following accounting regulations
  • Identifying cost-saving measures
  • Preparing budgets


CPAs are highly qualified accountants and can assume many different career roles in the financial sector. While some may work as tax accountants others may work in forensic accounting. They are expected to have integrity and to follow the CPAs' ethical code. Those who do business or personal taxes may work long hours at certain times of the year. While some accountants may travel to see clients most accountants primarily work in an office.

Job responsibilities of a CPA include:

  • Providing tax advice
  • Producing reports
  • Reviewing financial documents
  • Performing calculations
  • Testifying in court
  • Completing tax returns

Related Careers

Both aspiring CMAs and CPAs may be interested in similar alternate career options that involve working in the finance industry. Use the links here to learn more about what auditors and financial analysts do.

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