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Certified Management Accountant

Checked for updates, April 2022.

The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is an internationally accepted certification for professionals who exhibit mastery in managerial accounting and advisory services. CMAs are proficient in critical areas of business such as financial planning, cost management, decision support, and financial analysis.

The CMA, sponsored by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), is highly valued and recognized, thus delivering a significant boost to one's earning potential.

IMA's 2021 global survey revealed that CMA holders earn 58% more than non-certified accounting professionals.

To obtain the CMA credential, candidates should meet and maintain certain requirements.

Education Requirements

Candidates should have a bachelor's degree or higher degree from an accredited college institution. Degrees from non-accredited institutions shall be reviewed before approval of the application for examination. Applicants must meet the education requirement before they can take the CMA examination.

Experience Requirements

Candidates must complete two continuous years of professional experience in management accounting and/or financial management. This requirement may be completed prior to or within seven years after passing the examination.

Candidates may take the examination but no certification shall be awarded until the experience requirement is satisfied.

"Qualifying experience consists of positions requiring judgments regularly made employing the principles of management accounting and financial management. Such employment includes: preparation of financial statements; financial planning & analysis; monthly, quarterly, and year end close; auditing (external or internal); budget preparation & reporting; managing general ledger and balance sheets; forecasting; company investment decision making; costing analysis; and risk evaluation." – IMA

The CMA Examination

The CMA examination is provided in two parts. Each part consists of 100 multiple choice questions and 2 essay questions. Candidates are given 4 hours to answer each exam part, 3 hours for the multiple choice and 30 minutes for each essay.

Part 1 – Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance, and Control (External Financial Reporting Decisions - 15%; Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting - 30%; Performance Management - 20%; Cost Management - 20%; Internal Controls - 15%) [3 hours multiple choice, 30 minutes for each essay question]

Part 2 – Financial Decision Making (Financial Statement Analysis - 25%; Corporate Finance - 20%; Decision Analysis - 20%; Risk Management - 10%; Investment Decisions - 15%; Professional Ethics - 10%) [3 hours multiple choice, 30 minutes for each essay question]

The 30-minute essay questions are given after the multiple choice. To be eligible to take the essay section, a candidate must answer at least 50% of the multiple choice questions correctly. After which, the points for the multiple choice and essay will be added to get the total score for the exam part which determines whether the candidate passes of fails.

There are many testing locations throughout the U.S. and internationally. Parts 1 and 2 are given during these testing window periods: January and February; May and June; and, September and October, respectively. You are advised to schedule an appointment for examination at least four weeks before your chosen date.

If you fail an exam part, you can re-register to take it again in the next testing windows.

Continuing Professional Education

Certified Management Accountants should maintain knowledge and skills and stay abreast with developments related to the professional designation. CMAs are required to complete at least 30 hours of continuing professional education each year which must include at least 2 hours in ethics.

To learn more about the CMA, visit the IMA Website.

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