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Certified Management Accountants (CMA) Career Opportunities

The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification is a globally recognized credential focusing on management accounting and corporate finance. Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA®), a division of Institute of Management Accountants (IMA®), is the credentialing body for the CMA certification. To date, IMA members across over 140 countries have earned their CMA certifications.

What do CMAs do?

In their 2019 Global Salary Survey, IMA details four main roles of CMAs: steward, operator, strategist, and catalyst.

  • Stewards are responsible for safeguarding a company’s assets and ensuring compliance with financial regulations and external financial reporting.
  • Operators provide services like financial planning, treasury, and tax to run an efficient finance organization.
  • Strategists are financial leaders that align business and finance strategies for the future of the business.
  • Catalysts execute new strategies related to a business’s finance function.

What are typical CMA career paths?

After earning the CMA credential, professionals can take a variety of career paths related to operations and decision-making. Job opportunities and CMA salaries differ depending on a candidate’s years of experience and work background.

Financial Analyst

A more junior position for CMAs, Financial Analysts track financial statements, prepare reports, analyze results, and give recommendations to improve company productivity. The CMA certification gives Financial Analysts the confidence and knowledge they need to be able to complete the full cycle, from creating financial reports through providing recommendations based on the compiled information. According to Glassdoor, Financial Analysts make on average $65,817 per year.

Cost Accountant

As the title suggests, Cost Accountants collect, analyze, and report details about a company’s costs in order to find inefficiencies that can be eliminated to save the company money. Throughout the CMA credentialing process, Cost Accountants will learn the skills they need to perform successful cost accounting and communicate strategic plans to high-level executives for implementation. The average annual salary of Cost Accountants is $62,207.

Financial Risk Manager

After acquiring the necessary analytical and decision-making skills through the CMA credential and related work experience, Financial Risk Managers predict future changes that could affect the company’s finances and create strategic plans based on their predictions. This position requires a solid foundation of analytical skills, as well as a proficiency in mathematics. Financial Risk Managers make on average $99,949 per year.

Financial Controller

Financial Controllers work directly with Chief Financial Officers as one of the heads of the finance department. This position is largely a managerial position overseeing other accountants and accounting managers, but it also involves converting data into financial reports and formulating financial strategies. A CMA credential is highly recommended for this position, because Financial Controllers are required to make strategic recommendations and manage other accounting professionals. The average annual salary of Financial Controllers is $108,651.

Chief Financial Officer

The Chief Financial Officer is the head of a company’s financial decisions, as the finance arm of the C-suite and often reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). CFOs are involved in financial reporting, financial forecasting, and company investments. The leadership, communications, and analytical skills involved in this position are all part of the CMA credentialing process. To reach positions in this high level of management, a CMA or an MBA is often required. CFO’s make an average annual salary of $146,053.

Who should earn the CMA?

If you are an accounting or finance professional looking to advance your career by completing an internationally recognized benchmark for strategic thinking, the CMA may be for you. Throughout the credentialing process, CMA candidates will learn how to turn data into dialogue and make important, strategic business decisions based on that data.

Due to the CMA credential requirements, most professionals who earn the professional certification are more experienced professionals. However, CMA candidates can sit for the CMA Exam before completing all certification requirements. Therefore, if you’re looking to boost your career early on, the CMA is still a viable option.

CMA vs. CPA

The Certified Management Accountant credential is often juxtaposed with the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential. While either credential can provide a career boost, the CMA and the CPA licenses are vastly different. The CMA Exam is focused on higher-level decision-making skills specifically in corporate finance and managerial accounting, whereas the CPA Exam requires a broader knowledge of many accounting and finance topics. The CPA credential is often earned before the CMA credential, because the CPA license requires only one year of work experience in accounting rather than the two years working specifically in management accounting or financial management required for the CMA.

Some professionals choose to gain both the CPA and the CMA, awarding them greater career opportunities and a higher salary range. According to IMA, professionals with both the CMA and CPA earn a median of 50% more than non-credentialed professionals in the same industry.

What are the requirements to become a CMA?

CMA candidates must:

  • Hold an active IMA membership
  • Pass both parts of the CMA Exam
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Have two continuous years of professional experience

Is the CMA the right choice for you?

If you think earning the CMA credential will give your career the boost it needs, start studying for the CMA Exam today with Surgent CMA Review. Surgent offers the most adaptive CMA Review course on the market, decreasing your study time by increasing your study efficiency.