Accounting certifications are a great way to boost your accounting, finance or business career. A professional certification, like a CMA designation or CPA certification, proves that you’re willing to put in the work to advance your career, and employers love hiring and retaining employees who are serious go-getting when it comes to their careers. But credentials can be stressful, and obtaining them while working a full-time job can be scary. Luckily, the CMA Exam can be taken while you’re still in college and students even get a discount.

Graduating with the CMA Exam passed means you’ll be ready for your future, and you won’t have the stress of a lingering designation over your head. You’ll be ready to jump into your career both now and into the future. Below, we’ll talk about why studying for and passing the CMA Exam while you’re still in college is a great idea, and how you can make it a reality.

The CMA Designation Has a Myriad of Benefits

While you have to have two years of professional experience before you can apply for your CMA certification, having the education and exam requirements knocked out when you enter your first job after college will prove to employers you’re serious about your future as a CMA. Putting that you’ve passed both parts of the CMA Exam on your resume will help you edge out candidates who only have their degree and give you a boost as you look for positions right after college.

As you continue to work and eventually meet your work experience requirements, you’ll be better set up to move up within your organization. Passing the CMA Exam proves you can think critically in the finance, accounting, operations, and management arenas, and you’ll find you have more opportunities within your organization with the credential. CMAs are found anywhere in an organization, from staff accountants, to controllers, to C-Suite executives. By passing the CMA Exam early, you’re setting yourself up to be able to really dig into your work and show your managers your potential within the organization.

CMAs help explain the “why” behind the numbers on the financial statement, a critical piece for any organization to make accurate strategic and investment decisions. Financial decision making is one of the most sought after traits of management accountants because you’ll be able to help steer your company in the right direction. You’ll find, because of this skill, the CMA certification is recognized across industries; not only can you perform work you love to do, but you can work for a company you truly identify with. The CMA designation may be the credential you need to find your dream job.

Universities are Teaching Exam Content Anyway

To complete any business degree, including accounting, students have to take a variety of business classes covering a broad range of subjects. Accounting, cost accounting, management accounting, economics, finance, auditing, and corporate governance classes are all included in an undergraduate degree. Within these subjects, students learn about financial accounting, financial management, budgeting, forecasting, internal controls, corporate finance, risk management, and professional ethics. All of these topics are presented on the CMA Exam.

It takes a CMA candidate an average 12-18 months to pass the CMA Exam, which would coincide a student’s Junior and Senior year of college. A student who is studying for the CMA Exam while in school will find many parallels in the subject matters of their Junior and Senior years, meaning they’ll be more likely to pass because they’ve been working with the material both in school and while studying for the exam. The information will be fresh in their brains as they study, and they’ll have plenty of reinforcement of the materials going into each of the two parts of the certified management accountant exam.

There Are Steep Discounts for Sitting While in School

The Insitute of Management Accountants (IMA) offers special discounts to college students on the CMA Exam. You have to have an active IMA membership, and members who are not students will pay a $250 entrance fee as well as $415 per exam, a total cost of $1080. Students who are members of the IMA have a $188 entrance fee and $311 per exam, a total cost of $810. If you’re cost-conscious and looking for a 25% savings on your exam fee, then taking the exam as a student is a great idea. You can put that extra $270 dollars in a savings account, or use it as an incentive to buy yourself something fun once you pass both exams.

How You Can Take Advantage of Sitting for the CMA Exam While in School

Although most universities don’t specifically prepare you for the CMA Exam while in school, you’ll still have all of the content you need in the classroom to help you pass. If you want to specifically incorporate CMA Exam prep into the classroom, you should consider getting a CMA review course. Surgent’s CMA University Pass is a great way to study for the CMA alongside studying in the classroom. At $100 per student, per part, you’ll pay less than half the cost of a new textbook to pass your CMA Exam before you even graduate with your bachelor’s degree, opening doors immediately after college and into your business future.

If you’re interested in entering the world of financial professionals or accounting professionals, and the CMA designation seems like the right fit for you, consider studying for and taking the exam while you’re still in school. You’ll get the most stressful part (the two-part exam) out of the way, and set yourself up to jump in your new job with both feet.

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Ryan Hirsch, Director, Market Development (MDM), Universities for Surgent is responsible for increasing the awareness of Surgent’s University PASS (UPASS) product among major university accounting programs. He has also served as Vice President of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) in Nashville, Tennessee, where he managed the Ethical Leadership Training and Development Division.