About CMA Certification
What is a CMA?
Certified Management Accountant, or CMA as it is more commonly known as, is a globally recognized accreditation for professionals associated with accountancy and finance. In United States, this certification is awarded by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). As part of the certification, the professionals are trained for more advanced levels of accountancy combined with courses entailing different areas of expertise in financial administration. These include financial strategy and planning, analysis, decision support and management.
What are the benefits of becoming a CMA?
For professionals already in the field, acquiring CMA accreditation can lead to further growth in their careers. Today, a considerable number of financial organizations expect their employees to obtain CMA certification in order to earn their promotions to higher positions. As professionals climb their career ladder, their CMA training will prove to be a useful tool in effective financial strategy building and decision making. It is, therefore, not a surprise that organizations now lay great emphasis on CMA as a basic requirement when advertising a mid or high level finance or accounting position.
Moreover, should a professional decide to make a move from one organization to another, the successful completion of CMA certification would add a definite edge to his or her résumé. CMA enables individuals to take their knowledge of account management and finances to the next level by becoming solution providers and making financial decisions on behalf of the entire organization and/or its clients.
Who is eligible to become a CMA?
First and foremost, anybody planning to become a CMA needs to acquire the membership of IMA. The membership is open to both students and professionals, with the membership fee varying from $39 for students to $210 for professionals. Teachers of corporate finance and accounting are also eligible to apply for CMA certification. However, this eligibility is only for teachers who are teaching above the introductory level of these disciplines.
What are the requirements of becoming a CMA?
In terms of educational requirements, CMA candidates should possess at least a bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited institution before they can appear for their exam. Degree holders from non-accredited institutions may also take the exam only if their transcripts have been endorsed by an evaluation authority such as the National Association of Credit Evaluation Services (NACES).
Moreover, candidates should have a minimum of two years of work experience in a financial or accountancy related position to qualify for CMA certification. Alternatively, this condition can also be fulfilled within 7 years of clearing the certification exam.
What knowledge is tested on the CMA exam?
The CMA exam comprises two parts. The first part tests an individual’s knowledge of financial performance, planning and control. The second part, on the other hand, assesses the candidates’ prowess in financial decision making.
In order to be well prepared for the test, candidates should concentrate on the main areas of each part. To clear the first part successfully, they need to focus on financial planning, forecasting, budgeting, cost management, professional ethics, internal controls and performance measurement. The second part is composed of topics related to financial statement analysis, decision analysis, investment decisions, risk management, professional ethics and corporate finance.
After becoming a CMA, what does one need to do to maintain the credentials?
To begin with, candidates must fulfill the aforementioned employment condition after passing their CMA certification exam. Additionally, professionals need to acquire at least 30 credit hours of continuing education, out of which a minimum of 2 credit hours should be devoted to the course of professional ethics. The rest of the credit hours should focus on different areas related to the field of management accounting.
Through its website and newsletter, IMA regularly informs its members about different courses, events and conferences, by the help of which they can attain the required number of continuing education credit hours. Individuals can also enroll for courses offered by any other IMA-recognized certification authority.
What is the salary range one can expect as a CMA?
As discussed earlier, professionals with CMA accreditation enjoy better career prospects and pay scales than those who are yet to acquire their certification. As per the Strategic Finance Magazine (June 2010), individuals with CMA certification earn 22 percent higher in average pay ($106,713 as compared to $87,165) and 25 percent higher in average total annual compensation ($124,346 as compared to $99,441) than what non-certified professionals get paid.It is speculated that employment opportunities for CMAs will increase by 18 percent between 2006 and 2016.
Are there any professional or trade associations that represent CMAs?
With IMA being the most obvious of the representative organizations for CMAs, there are a few other organizations with which CMAs can associate themselves. One of them is the American Accounting Association, which is a global promoter of betterment in practices, academics and research related to accountancy. Female CMAs can also acquire the membership of American Society for Women Accountants (ASWA). CMA certified professionals in government organizations are represented by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).
What else should one know about becoming a CMA?
Before appearing for their certification exam, all CMA candidates must pledge to follow the code of conduct and ethics prescribed by IMA, by signing an affidavit that states their allegiance and commitment to professional ethics. Moreover, a CMA certified professional has an obligation to uphold the federal or state laws governing their profession.