Management Accountant: Job Description & Career Info

Management accountants analyze a company's financial data so that it can be used to make strategic decisions. In contrast to financial or public accountants, who focus on the external reporting of historical data, management accountants typically have business planning and budgeting responsibilities. Read further to learn more about this occupation.

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Career Definition

Management accountants analyze a company's historical financial data to estimate future costs and revenues, create budgets and prepare internal reports which are used to make business planning decisions. In some organizations, the information presented by management accountants is only used within the company; however, in others, they may interact with external parties, issuing reports used by regulatory agencies, shareholders and auditors. They are employed throughout the U.S. by companies in virtually every industry, from agriculture and manufacturing to communications and construction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects several years of strong growth in accounting and auditing professions, including management accounting (www.bls.gov).

How to Become a Management Accountant

Required Education

Most employers require a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance; however, some employers may prefer a master's degree. Experienced management accountants may also obtain Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification offered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) (www.imanet.org). The IMA website provides CMA exam information and preparation tips, as well as a listing of online continuing education courses. Many management accountants with financial accounting duties also pursue the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation, which may be required for some positions.

Skills Needed

Management accountants must be analytical and detail-oriented with good math skills and an expert understanding of current accounting principles. They must have excellent written and verbal communication skills and the ability to analyze and summarize complex information. They must have a strong understanding of business principles and finance in order to interpret data and make strategic recommendations. Strong computer skills and proficiency with spreadsheet and accounting software programs are essential. They must also have strong leadership and managerial abilities, good personal interaction skills and be able to work well under pressure.

Career Outlook and Economic Future

The BLS expects 13% job growth for accounting and auditing occupations over the 2012-2022 decade, which is average growth compared to all occupations. The BLS reported in May 2012 that accountants and auditors made a median annual wage of $63,550.

Alternate Career Options

Budget Analyst

After earning a bachelor's degree in a field such as accounting, business, finance or economics, budget analysts then secure employment helping institutions with the organization of their finances by preparing budget reports and overlooking the spending. Slower-than-average job growth of 6% was expected during the 2012-2022 decade, and these positions paid an annual median salary in 2012 of $69,280.

Cost Estimator

Much faster-than-average employment growth of 26% was anticipated from 2012-2022, and the BLS reported a median wage of $58,860 per year for cost estimators in 2012. Often having a bachelor's degree connected to a particular field, along with a strong math background, these professionals estimate all of the resources that will be necessary to make specific products or to provide certain services.

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