The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam and certification are administered by the Institute of Management Accountants. The IMA is an international organization and the certification requirements are the same wherever you live. The CMA certification closely matches the skills that most accountants use in their careers. Management accountants work within organizations and help managers and owners plan and control operations. They specialize in strategic planning, budgeting, financial analysis, and cost control. Here are the steps to become a CMA:
- Get a Bachelor’s Degree. The CMA certification requires a bachelor’s degree, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in accounting. There is a lot of accounting on the exam, but a degree in Finance would work or another business degree with emphasis in accounting.
- Take the Exam. The CMA exam is offered by computer at a testing center. There are two parts to the exam and each are about 4 hours each:
- Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance and Control
- Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting
- Performance Management
- Cost Management
- Internal Controls
- Professional Ethics
- Part 2: Financial Decision Making
- Financial Statement Analysis
- Corporate Finance
- Decision Analysis and Risk Management
- Investment Decisions
- Professional Ethics
Each part can be taken separately, one at a time, over a year and a half. You can retake
the sections up to three times, but you pay each time. The first time passing rate in the
U.S. is approximately 45-50%. It is hard! I highly recommend a comprehensive review
course before taking the CMA exam.
- Get Experience. To become certified, a candidate must have two years of management accounting experience.
- Continuing Education. To remain certified, the CMA needs to take 30 hours of continuing education a year.
- More information about the exam can be found at www.imanet.org. .
Melanie Torborg is a Certified Management Accountant with over 20 years of corporate experience. She has a degree in Finance and a Master’s Degree in Business. She has spent that last 11 years as an educator in the Accounting field.