Complete Job Description of a Certified Management Accountant

When CEOs and company executives create business plans, they do so with the help of financial experts called Certified Management Accountants (CMA). The career path of a CMA tends to be broad because it is a position that is mostly utilized by large corporations, but this also means that it can take many years of experience before achieving the position of certified CMA.

What are the Certified Management Accountant Requirements?

One of the most fundamental Certified Management Accountant requirements is a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. While pursuing a bachelor's degree in accounting, it is also helpful to take courses in fields such as auditing, statistics and economics. It takes at least two years of field experience before you can consider taking the steps towards taking the CMA certification exam.

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Getting Certified as a CMA

The CMA certification exam is given by the Institute of Management Accountants. To qualify for the exam, you must be able to prove at least two years of field experience in accounting and provide proof of your bachelor's degree. The IMA offers comprehensive support materials to help in preparing for the exam. To be allowed to take the exam and maintain certification status, it is mandatory to join the IMA and maintain a monthly membership.


Part of the confusion people new to the CMA field experience comes with separating the duties of a CMA from that of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In general, the separation in the determination of CMA vs CPA comes with general job duties. A CMA spends time calculating financial projections and assisting in the planning of future business endeavors. A CPA handles current financial issues such as tax filings, accounts payable and balancing the company's payroll account.

Need a certification? We've covered all the basics in our Guide to Accounting Certifications 

Anyone interested in the inner-workings of the corporate world is going to be drawn towards becoming a CMA, while anyone who enjoys working with numbers in structured situations will enjoy a position as a CPA. The IMA offers plenty of resources on understanding the role of a CMA and how it differs from a CPA.

Salary and Compensation

In 2016, the median CMA salary range went from $48,723.00 to $123,734.00 per year. The top end of the CMA salary scale jumped to $150,725.00 per year for people with Master's degrees in Accounting. The highest range of salaries was found in companies located in New York City and Houston, Texas.

Interested in dual degrees? Check out our ranking of the Best Finance + Accounting MBA Programs 

Working Up to a CMA Position

As was mentioned, it takes at least two years of field experience to qualify for the CMA certification exam. The most popular positions for people pursuing their initial experience in the accounting field include accounting clerk, budget analyst, and financial analyst. It is important to know that any experience in accounting will qualify a candidate for the CMA exam, but these particular fields are most desirable among corporations who hire CMAs.

The job of a CMA is tied closely to the upper executive staff of any large corporation. Anyone who is interested in pursuing a dynamic career in corporate accounting will want to look into a career as a CMA.