How to Become a CMA

Your guide to becoming a Certified Management Accountant
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Becoming a CMA

You might be wondering if the Certified Management Accounting (CMA) certification, is the right professional certification for you. Before you make this commitment, you should first understand the details that go into obtaining the certification.

The question isn’t if the CMA certification is attainable, because it absolutely is. The question you should be asking yourself is whether the CMA certification is the right professional certification for you. So, we are going to break down all of the most-know details that you should chew on before finalizing your decision.

Step 1) Meet the Educational Requirements:

Interestingly, it’s possible to sit for the CMA examination prior to completing your degree. Yes, despite the conventional requirement to have a degree for CMA candidacy, you have the flexibility to tackle the exam beforehand. However, step one in actually becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) – AKA in obtaining Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) membership, is to complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or by alternatively get one of the approved qualifying professional certifications.

There are plenty of benefits to taking the CMA exam before finishing college in that this is a huge weight lifted off your shoulders as you won’t have the stress of balancing work and CMA Exam studying. However, this is a conceptually more challenging path as your undergraduate accounting studies are meant to lay a foundation for understanding the complex accounting and financial concepts tested on the CMA Exam.

Individuals pursuing the CMA credential typically have diverse educational backgrounds, with degrees in accounting, finance, economics, and business being among the most prevalent.

Step 2) Pass the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Exam

Regardless of your preferred timing, and the degree you select, you can’t obtain a CMA certification until you pass the two-part CMA examination.

Your success in passing the CMA Exam will depend highly on the CMA study resources that you select. There are several different CMA Exam review courses out there and it is absolutely critical that you select the best CMA review study materials for you.

How can you tell which CMA review course is best for you? This truly depends on your learning style. For example, if you consider yourself to be a visual learner, Universal CMA Review is the only CMA review course that is truly designed for visual learners. Universal CMA offers a unique visual learning approach across all aspects of its program. Everything from Universal CMA’s video lectures to its e-book study guides, to the solutions in its CMA practice questions come with a unique visual that will help you process the CMA Exam information faster, and retain it longer.  

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Work Requirements:

Before you obtain your IMA membership, you will also need two years of work experience in the profession of accounting or finance.

Fortunately, the timeframe for acquiring this experience is generous. You have the option to complete this professional experience requirement either before taking the CMA exam or within seven years after passing it.

This flexibility is particularly advantageous because it allows both college students and professionals eyeing a transition to the CMA professional certification to take the CMA exam even without the needed two years of work. There is a reason that the CMA certification continues to grow in popularity each year as this will immediately enhance your resume and showcase to employers your mastery in financial reporting, management accounting, and business strategy.

To meet the experience criteria, candidates are expected to have two years of professional involvement in management accounting or financial management. This can be through a full-time professional role or part-time employment, working at least 20 hours a week over a span of four years, in relevant fields.

Experience qualifications are broad, ranging from roles like staff accountant to CFO, and including positions such as financial analyst and senior accountant. While the ICMA (Institute of Certified Management Accountants) prefers experience to be gained over consecutive years, applications are reviewed individually, ensuring flexibility in meeting this requirement. Academics with a curriculum comprising at least 60% of accounting and corporate financial management courses beyond the introductory level also satisfy the experience requirement, further illustrating the inclusive criteria set by the ICMA.

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