Concise Overview of Pursuing Certified Management Accountant (CMA) In The USA

In the dynamic world of finance and accounting, professionals are constantly seeking ways to enhance their skills and boost their career prospects. One powerful credential that stands out is the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation. The CMA designation in the USA is a prestigious and globally recognized certification for professionals seeking to enhance their expertise in management accounting and financial management. It is recognised across 170+ countries. Administered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), the CMA designation signifies a commitment to excellence and proficiency in strategic financial management. CMA is renowned as the ‘Gold Standard in Management Accounting.’ Achieving the US CMA certification can be completed within 8 months or extended over a period of up to 3 years.  

If you are someone who is aspiring to enter the realm of certified accounting professionals, equipped with proficiency in financial accounting and strategic management then the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation in the USA is the optimal choice for you. It presents an exceptional opportunity to elevate your career. Here, in this blog, we explore the nuances of the CMA course, delving into particulars such as prerequisites, costs, the registration process, and much more.

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Understanding CMA

Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a professional certification that attests to an individual’s proficiency in management accounting and financial management, making them a valuable asset in the business world. Globally recognized and highly coveted by companies and recruiters, the CMA certification stands as the pinnacle in accounting and finance credentials. Tailored for accountants and financial professionals, the US CMA certification encompasses a comprehensive curriculum covering accounting, business, finance, and analytics. It is designed to cultivate mastery in 12 core skills, essential for leadership in the dynamic realms of accounting and finance.

Earning the CMA designation involves meeting specific educational and work experience requirements, as well as successfully passing a two-part examination. Candidates undergo a rigorous examination process that assesses their knowledge and skills in various areas such as financial planning, performance and analytics, strategic financial management, and more. The designation is highly valued in the business and finance sectors, opening doors to diverse career opportunities and often leading to leadership roles.

Benefits of CMA In The USA

1. Global Recognition

The CMA designation attains global recognition through a comprehensive and standardized curriculum administered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). Covering universally applicable topics in financial planning, strategic management, and risk analysis, CMA holders acquire skills relevant to diverse international business environments. The IMA’s uniform standards, combined with a globally recognized professional network, establish a consistent and respected certification process. Acknowledged by multinational corporations, regulatory authorities, and organizations worldwide, the CMA designation reflects alignment with international accounting standards. Its adaptability to various business practices and recognition by regulatory bodies contribute to its global standing, making it a sought-after credential for professionals excelling in the dynamic field of international management accounting.

2. Strategic Expertise

CMA designation stands as a testament to strategic expertise by equipping professionals with advanced skills crucial for effective financial management. The comprehensive approach ensures that CMA holders not only possess technical proficiency but also a deep understanding of how financial decisions impact an organization’s strategic objectives. The emphasis on risk analysis, cost management, and performance evaluation empowers CMAs to contribute strategically to their organizations, making them invaluable assets in navigating the complex landscape of modern business. Through rigorous examination and real-world application of knowledge, CMA provides strategic expertise that goes beyond accounting principles, enabling professionals to play pivotal roles in shaping the long-term success of the organizations they serve

3. Career Advancement

CMA designation serves as a catalyst for career advancement by positioning professionals as strategic leaders in finance and management. CMA holders exhibit a mastery of essential skills in financial planning, budgeting, and performance management, paving the way for accelerated career progression. Recognized globally, the CMA designation opens doors to leadership roles, offering professionals opportunities to contribute significantly to organizational success. The prestige associated with CMA not only enhances job prospects but also translates into increased earning potential, making it a pivotal asset for those seeking to ascend to leadership positions and excel in their careers.

Eligibility Requirements for Enrolling in The CMA USA Program

For admission to the CMA program, it is essential you must fulfil all of the following requirements: 

  • Active membership in IMA
  • Active CMA entrance fee
  • Satisfy the education qualification
  • Satisfy the experience qualification
  • Complete all required examination parts
  • Adhere to the IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice.

US CMA Course Structure & Syllabus

The CMA exam comprises two parts: 

Part 1 – Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

  • External Financial Reporting Decisions – 15%
  • Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting  – 20%
  • Performance Management – 20%
  • Cost Management – 15%
  • Internal Controls – 15%
  • Technology and Analytics – 15%

Part 2 – Strategic Financial Management :

  • Financial Statement Analysis – 20%
  • Corporate Finance – 20%
  • Decision Analysis – 25%
  • Risk Management – 10%
  • Investment Decision – 10%
  • Professional Ethic – 15%

Candidates have the flexibility to take either CMA Part 1 or Part 2 in any sequence. Examinations are conducted at Prometric testing centres. 

Education Qualification for CMA Certification

To attain CMA certification, candidates must meet one of the following education requirements and submit verification within seven years of completing the CMA examination:

  1. A prospective candidate must hold a bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university or possess an IMA-approved professional certification. 
  2. In instances where the degree is from a non-accredited institution, an independent agency such as NACES or AICE may be engaged to assess its equivalence. 
  3. Importantly, individuals without a bachelor’s degree still have an opportunity to qualify for the CMA program by holding a professional certification approved by the ICMA.
  4. A candidate must possess a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Even if currently pursuing undergraduate studies, individuals remain eligible for the US CMA. It is imperative to verify the degree within 7 years of completing the CMA examination.
  5. Professionals seeking CMA certification must have a continuous work experience of 2 years in the fields of management accounting and/or financial management in order to qualify.

All required educational documents must be submitted in English as PDFs to [email protected] along with the IMA membership number. Original documents may be requested by ICMA if needed. Note: Documents are securely discarded six months after updating your CMA profile.

CMA Exam Dates and Testing Windows

The CMA exam is conducted in a computer-based format and is available at Prometric Testing Centres globally. 

The following three testing windows are offered for Parts 1 and 2 of the examination:

CMA Testing WindowDatesLast Date of Registration
May/June1 May to 30 June15 June
September/October1 September to 31 October15 October
January/February1 January to 29 February15 February

Registrations for Parts 1 and 2 will close after the 15th of February, June, and October respectively.

How To Register For The CMA Exam

Registering for the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) program in the USA involves several steps. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to register for CMA in the USA:

1: Join IMA (Institute of Management Accountants): Before enrolling in the CMA program, you need to become a member of IMA. You can join online through the IMA website.

2: Check Eligibility: Review and ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for the CMA program, including educational and professional requirements.

3: Enrol as a CMA Candidate: After becoming an IMA member, enrol as a CMA candidate. You can do this by logging into your IMA account and completing the CMA program entrance fee payment.

4: Review Scholarship Opportunities: Explore the possibility of earning a scholarship for the CMA program. IMA offers various scholarships, and you can check their website for details on eligibility and application processes.

5: Choose Exam Parts and Pay Fees: Decide whether you want to register for Part 1 or Part 2 first (you can choose any order). Pay the exam fees for the selected part through the IMA website.

6: Receive Authorization from ICMA: Once you have paid the exam fees, wait for authorization from the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA). This authorization confirms your eligibility to take the exam.

7: Schedule Exam at Prometric Testing Centre: Upon receiving authorization, schedule your exam at a Prometric testing centre. And then, you need to choose a convenient date and select the location for your exam. For an updated list of all Prometric Testing Centres, refer to the Prometric website at www.prometric.com/ICMA

8: Confirmation and Instructions: After scheduling, you will receive confirmation of your registration. This document includes your authorization number(s), testing window(s), and the Instructions for Candidates.

CMA Examination Overview

Understanding the CMA Exam Pattern is crucial for every candidate before delving into the finer details of the CMA course. To attain the CMA certification, candidates are required to successfully complete both parts of the examination. Here is an overview of the CMA exam pattern:

Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics: A four-hour exam comprising 100 multiple-choice questions and two 30-minute essays.

Part 2: Strategic Financial Management: Also a four-hour exam, featuring 100 multiple-choice questions and two 30-minute essays.

Each part involves a three-hour duration for the multiple-choice section and an additional hour for the essays. The essay section, presenting 10-12 written response or calculation questions based on business scenarios, follows the completion of the multiple-choice section or after three hours, whichever comes first. Once candidates exit the multiple-choice section, there is no option to go back, necessitating completion of the exam in the essay section. To be eligible for the essay section, candidates must correctly answer a minimum of 50% of the multiple-choice questions. 

Prepare for the Exam

Preparing for the CMA USA certification involves a structured approach to master the exam content and enhance your management accounting skills. Begin your exam preparation using recommended study materials and resources. The IMA provides a content specification outline and other study resources to help candidates prepare effectively. Thoroughly understand the CMA exam syllabus, covering financial planning, performance, analytics, strategic financial management, and more. Utilize reputable study materials and resources provided by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) or other recognized providers. 

Establish a study plan that suits your schedule, focusing on consistent and disciplined study sessions. Practice with sample questions and take mock exams to gauge your readiness. Consider joining study groups or online forums for additional insights and support. Lastly, stay updated on the latest industry trends and regulations. Diligent preparation will contribute to success in the CMA USA certification journey.

CMA Entrance and Exam Fee

The entrance fee for the CMA certification program is a prerequisite for taking the exams and must be paid before examination commencement. Candidates are required to complete the CMA program within three years from program entry. Failure to successfully complete both exam parts within this timeframe results in the expiration of any passed parts, necessitating the repayment of the CMA entrance fee.

The fee covers access to the CMA support package, performance feedback reports, review of educational and experience credentials, a personalized certificate upon program completion, employer notification of CMA designation by request, and inclusion in the IMA website listing for employer verification of status. It is important to note that while the exam support package is provided, candidates should complement it with a formal study plan.

CMA Program Fees

Professional MembersStudent/Academic Members
CMA Entrance Fee: $300CMA Entrance Fee: $225
Exam Fee: $495 per partExam Fee: $370 per part
IMA Membership Fee: $295*IMA Membership Fee: $49/$160*

*IMA membership is required.

(Source : IMA website)

Exam Results

Immediate results are not provided as the essay questions undergo a thorough off-line grading process. The multiple-choice and essay section scores are combined to yield a total weighted pass/fail score, reflected in a scaled score for the entire part. The exam utilizes a score range of 0-500, and a minimum score of 360 for both parts is required to pass. The cumulative score across both sections determines the overall outcome of the CMA exam and the pass/fail status. You can anticipate receiving your exam results approximately six weeks after the month in which you took the test. The results will be delivered via email and will also be accessible on your online profile.

Note: The pass rates for the CMA exam vary by geographic region, with an average of around 50% for both Part 1 and Part 2.

CMA Scholarship

The CMA Scholarship provides an opportunity to complete the CMA course at no cost. To give. A quick look at the highlights are: More than 2,900 universities globally have participated in the CMA Scholarship program and an impressive 29,000 CMA Scholarships have been awarded to outstanding students worldwide with a significant investment of $50 million providing students with a competitive career advantage.

Scholarship Eligibility

  • High-achieving students, from undergraduates to Ph.D. candidates, attending accredited colleges or universities globally.
  • Each school can nominate up to 5 students per academic year for a CMA scholarship.
  • All students nominated by a professor automatically qualify for the scholarship.

You can find the form on the official IMA website 

Job Opportunities

A CMA certification can open up a range of lucrative career opportunities in the field of management accounting and finance. CMA-qualified professionals are highly valued for their expertise in financial planning, strategic management, and risk analysis.

Salary Highlights for Management Accountants

  • Individuals with CMA certification aged 30-39 experience a median salary that is 50% higher than their peers without certification.
  • On average, CMAs receive a 58% higher median annual compensation compared to their noncertified counterparts.
  • An overwhelming 88% of surveyed CMAs affirm that obtaining certification has markedly enhanced their professional confidence.

CMA (Certified Management Accountant) certification opens doors to various rewarding career paths. Some prominent options for CMA-certified individuals include Financial Analyst, Controller, Finance Manager, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Management Consultant, Risk Manager, Internal Auditor, Cost Accountant and many more. The median base salary and total compensation for individuals holding the CMA are notably higher compared to those without the certification. In general, the disparity in median total compensation between CMAs and non-CMAs amounts to $29,000, signifying a 58% higher median income for CMAs as per the IMA’S 2021 GLOBAL SALARY SURVEY. 

The following table has been sourced from the IMA 2021 Global Salary Survey and provides the salary details of CMA professionals:

RegionBase Salary ($)Total Compensation ($)
America110,000124,000
Asia/Pacific25,90231,000
Middle East/Africa/India31,60036,000
All Countries70,00079,000

Maintaining Your CMA Certification

After obtaining your CMA certification, it is essential to uphold your IMA membership and fulfil the annual Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements. Failure to adhere to these obligations will lead to your removal from the IMA’s registry of certified members.

Pursuing CMA in the USA is not just an educational endeavour; it’s a transformative journey that propels you toward global excellence in management accounting. It is also a is a strategic move towards a rewarding and global career in management accounting . As you navigate the benefits, requirements, and opportunities, remember that CMA is not merely a certification; it’s a badge of honour, a testament to your dedication and expertise in the dynamic field of management accounting. Invest in your education, embrace the challenges, and unlock the doors to unparalleled success in the ever-evolving world of finance and business. Your journey to mastery begins now.