Certified Management Accountant Education Requirements and Career Info

Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) handle finances within a company or organization. They perform essential control functions and inform decision-makers about various aspects of the organization's financial situation. CMAs are often part of executive teams that develop new products and participate in strategic planning.

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Certified Management Accountant Education

Employers require accountants to hold a bachelor's degree in accounting, economics or finance. Bachelor's degree programs cover financial accounting, management, business law, marketing, finance and taxation. Students often gain real-world experience through summer or part-time internships. Some accountants also have a master's degree in accounting or a Master of Business Administration. Many accountants improve their credentials by becoming Certified Public Accountants.

A Certified Management Accountant (CMA) needs a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, a GRE or GMAT score in or above the fiftieth percentile or current certification in a comparable field such as Certified Public Accountant. Two years of management accounting experience are required prior to applying for certification.

Certification Information

The CMA certification is offered through the Institute of Management Accountants. Certification is achieved through a 2-part written exam. The first part assesses examinees' understanding of topics like planning, budgeting and forecasting, performance management, Internet controls and professional ethics. The second part tests decision analysis and risk management, financial statement analysis, investment decisions, corporate finance and professional ethics.

To qualify for the exam, accountants must possess a bachelor's degree and have been working for a minimum of two years in management accounting. Most universities with accounting degree programs offer CMA exam preparation courses. In addition to passing the exam, CMA candidates must also commit to participating in continuing education throughout their careers.

Career Information

Certified Management Accountants are responsible for ensuring that the internal finances of business are in order. They also participate in strategic business planning. CMAs design and evaluate business processes, prepare reports and look for accounting irregularities. They are also responsible for budgeting, performance evaluation, cost and asset management and tracking transactions. CMAs should have excellent math, verbal and written communication skills and have knowledge of the computer software used for accounting.

Job opportunities for CMAs are available in all industries. Titles include:

  • Staff accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Budget analyst
  • Internal auditor
  • Finance manager
  • Vice president of finance
  • Chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Chief executive officer (CEO)

Employment Outlook and Salary

According IMA's salary survey from 2009, accountants with CMA certification earned 31% more than non-certified accountants at the same levels. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projects that the number of accountant jobs will increase by 22% through 2018, a faster than average rate. Over the next decade, approximately 279,400 new jobs will be created due to changing financial laws and increased corporate accountability. According to the BLS, accountants earned $59,430 in 2008; experienced accountants earned upwards of $102,380 and received generous benefits and bonuses.

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