Certified Management Accountant Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified management accountant. Get a quick view of the requirements, as well as details about job duties, certification and salary statistics to find out if this is the career for you.

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Once an accountant has earned a bachelor's degree and has two years of experience in management accounting, they are able to take the 2-part certification exam. Certified management accountants can find jobs in a variety of industries and must have a strong grasp of planning, budgeting, and cost and asset management.

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Essential Information

Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) handle finances within a company or organization. CMAs must be certified public accounts (CPAs) and possess a bachelor's degree in accounting. They perform essential control functions and inform decision-makers about various aspects of the organization's financial situation. CMAs are often part of executive teams that develop new products and participate in strategic planning.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Additional Requirements CPA and CMA certifications
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 11% for accountants and auditors
Average Salary (2015)* $75,710 for accountants and auditors working in management of companies and enterprises

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Certified Management Accountant Education

Employers require accountants to hold a bachelor's degree in accounting, economics or finance. Bachelor's degree programs cover financial accounting, management, business law, marketing, finance and taxation. Students often gain real-world experience through summer or part-time internships. Some accountants also have a master's degree in accounting or a Master of Business Administration. Many accountants improve their credentials by becoming Certified Public Accountants.

A Certified Management Accountant (CMA) needs a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, a GRE or GMAT score in or above the fiftieth percentile or current certification in a comparable field such as Certified Public Accountant. Two years of management accounting experience are required prior to applying for certification.

Certification Information

The CMA certification is offered through the Institute of Management Accountants. Certification is achieved through a 2-part written exam. The first part assesses examinees' understanding of topics like planning, budgeting and forecasting, performance management, Internet controls and professional ethics. The second part tests decision analysis and risk management, financial statement analysis, investment decisions, corporate finance and professional ethics.

To qualify for the exam, accountants must possess a bachelor's degree and have been working for a minimum of two years in management accounting. Most universities with accounting degree programs offer CMA exam preparation courses. In addition to passing the exam, CMA candidates must also commit to participating in continuing education throughout their careers.

Career Information

Certified Management Accountants are responsible for ensuring that the internal finances of business are in order. They also participate in strategic business planning. CMAs design and evaluate business processes, prepare reports and look for accounting irregularities. They are also responsible for budgeting, performance evaluation, cost and asset management and tracking transactions. CMAs should have excellent math, verbal and written communication skills and have knowledge of the computer software used for accounting.

Job opportunities for CMAs are available in all industries. Titles include:

  • Staff accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Budget analyst
  • Internal auditor
  • Finance manager
  • Vice president of finance
  • Chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Chief executive officer (CEO)

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

According IMA's salary survey from 2013, accountants with CMA certification earned 36% more than non-certified accountants at the same levels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors working in management of companies and enterprises earned an average annual wage of $75,710 in 2015. The BLS projects that the number of accountant and auditor jobs will increase by 11% between 2014 and 2024.

Certified management accountants (CMAs) work in business or corporate settings managing the finances and communicating the financial situation of the company to the management members. They need a bachelor's degree, at least two years of management accounting experience, and must pass a certification exam. By becoming certified, an accountant can increase their earning potential, however, obtaining the credential also means they are committing to continuing their education throughout their career.

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