A Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a certified professional who has met the requirements to receive certification from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in the US. It is also available through the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ACMA) in Australia and the Certified Management Accountants (CMA) in Canada. available in the US and Australia. The CMA emphasizes corporate accounting and management accounting. The purpose of this certification is to prepare the applicant for a managerial position in corporate finance and other organizations by helping them specialize and prove their knowledgeability in financial planning, policy creation and implementation, strategic management and similar functions in a company.

What does a certified management accountant do?

CMAs are accounting management and corporate finance experts who are largely involved in helping the business to make risk management, strategic, planning and budgeting decisions. Their specialization is business focused, meaning that they are better suited for private accounting than public accounting, especially since public accounting would require appropriate licensure. Some of the tasks they perform include:

  • Preparing financial statements
  • Company investment decision making
  • Costing analysis
  • Risk evaluation
  • Ensuring that the financial statements are up to date
  • Ensuring that the company’s finances are in good standing 
  • Management information systems analysis
  • Development and delivery of financial systems
  • Implementation and management of financial technologies
  • Using historical financial data to create a business strategy
  • Financial planning and analysis

What can’t a CMA do?

A CMA cannot practice public accounting. This means that they cannot represent their clients’ taxes before the IRS or sign certain financial statutory audit reports, income tax audit reports, secretarial audit reports or Real Estate Regulatory Authority law. They also cannot perform any attestation services.

Why become a certified management accountant?

A CMA is an internationally recognized designation that offers the certificate holder a certain level of prestige. It also generally allows the holder for greater opportunities for promotion in corporate accounting, as well as a higher salary than an uncertified accountant. A CMA is especially useful if you are hoping to pursue a career as a controller, CFO or similar position.

How to become a certified management accountant

In order to qualify for the CMA exam, the applicant must first complete a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or a related professional certification that is approved by the IMA. They will then need to enroll in and complete a CMA study program that is approved by the IMA and then pass both parts of the CMA exam within a period. After that, they will then need to fulfill a two-year work experience requirement that covers tasks that are relevant to their certification. Further information can be found in the CMA Handbook. One this is accomplished; they will be able to apply for their CMA certification and pay the IMA membership fee.

Taking the CMA exam

The CMA exam is divided into two parts, namely:

  • Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
  • Part 2: Strategic Financial Management

They can be taken in any order, but only one exam can be taken at a time. However, both parts must be passed within a three-year window, or you will need to retake the initial part that you passed as well. Both exams are 4 hours long and comprise of 100 multiple-choice questions and two 30-minute essays. The multiple-choice questions will be offered first and must be completed before the candidate can move on to the essay section. Once the candidate has exited the multiple-choice section of the exam, they will not be able to return to it. Additionally, you will need to pass at least 50% of the multiple-choice section before you can proceed to the essay section.

Each part can be taken three times a year during either January/February, May/June and September/October windows. Registration for each part is only open until the 15th of February, June, and October. The exam is booked through and taken at Prometric testing centers and You can cancel your appointment and reschedule it to another date within the same testing window if you cancel 72 hours prior to your scheduled appointment. Prometric will charge you a fee if you cancel your exam within 30 days of the scheduled exam date. If you fail to meet your appointment or schedule it within the window, you will forfeit the exam fee.

Students can take the exam before graduating.

How long should you study for the CMA exam?

The IMA recommends that an applicant study for between 150-170 hours per section of the exam.

What are the fees for CMA certification?

CMA Exam fees

CMA entrance fee – $280.00 USD/ Student – $210.00 USD

Exam fee – $460.00 USD per part/ Student – $345.00 USD per part

IMA membership fees

Professional – $275.00 USD

Student – $45.00 USD

Academic – $150.00 USD

Course fees

This varies from provider to provider.

How much does a certified management accountant earn?

According to Payscale, the average salary of a CMA is around $97,000 USD.

Do I need to renew my CMA certification?

Yes, you need to renew your CMA certification annually. This entails meeting a 30-hour CPE requirement including 2 hours of recognized ethics courses, as well as paying the IMA membership fee.