Learn About Being a Certified Management Accountant

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 10, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

What does a certified management accountant do?

A certified management accountant is a professional who has been certified by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). Certified management accountants work in the financial accounting and strategic management fields. CMAs analyze the finances of a company or organization to provide insight on how to improve productivity. CMAs can take on several responsibilities in a company including budgeting, risk analysis, corporate accounting and financial strategizing. Other duties that a CMA may perform include:

  • Making investment decisions

  • Mentoring junior accountants

  • Creating and editing documents related to the company finances

  • Presenting ideas for financial improvement to higher management

  • Assessing financial risk

Average salary

The average salary for a certified management accountant in the United States varies by location, industry, and employee experience. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $69,092 per year

  • Some salaries range from $19,000 to $137,000 per year.

Certified management accountant requirements

The process of becoming a certified management accountant is involved but rewarding. There are several requirements you could consider including:

Education

The majority of management accountant certifications require the applicants to earn a bachelor’s degree within a few years of seeking certification. The degree can be in a variety of fields including business, finance, communication or management. In some cases, you can also take the CMA certification exam while still in school. The IMA requires you to earn a bachelor’s degree or complete a professional certification within seven years of completing the CMA exam.

Training

The training you will need to become a credited management accountant will primarily come from experience gained while on the job. After completing the education requirement and passing the certification exam, you must also complete two years of continuous work experience before you can receive your CMA certification. According to the CMA association, this experience can be gained while working any full-time time job that involves financial analysis. Part-time work can also qualify if you are working for more than 20 hours a week. These years of experience in a related field will not only fulfill the certification requirement but can also prepare you for your career as a certified management accountant. 

Certifications

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

The CMA certification, issued by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), is globally recognized. It is respected in the financial community and is an important asset if you are seeking a successful career in management accounting. To receive the certification, you must meet the education, experience, and exam requirements. This includes a bachelor’s degree or professional certification, two years of relevant work experience and a passing score on the CMA exam.

Skills

Most of the skills involved in being a certified management accountant are related to financial analysis. Skills relevant to the job include:

  • Proficiency with numbers and finances: A CMA needs a solid understanding of corporate finance and needs to be able to analyze related documents and figures.

  • Attention to detail: As a CMA, you would most likely be responsible for your employer’s corporate finances, so you must be reliable when it comes to accurately analyzing numbers and writing reports.

  • Communication: The ability to communicate well with a team and with senior management will benefit you greatly as you work toward improving your company’s financial security.

  • Business skills: Familiarity with the corporate world will help you make informed decisions as a certified management accountant. Because you will be responsible for advising the financial decisions for the company, understanding your industry is an asset.

Certified management accountant work environment

Certified management accountants can find work in a wide variety of industries. You could fill a position in manufacturing, medical services, education services, transportation, construction and more. The office hours and workplace for a CMA will also vary depending on the position, but the majority work in office settings which include:

  • Sitting at a desk for long periods of time

  • Using computers and other forms of technology for communication and analysis

  • Using software to calculate financial figures

  • Conducting and participating in meetings with team members and management

  • Communicating with the heads of various departments in the company to create financial reports and budgets

How to become a credited management accountant

The process of becoming a credited management accountant has several specific steps.

  1. Pursue education. Earn a bachelor’s degree or professional certification related to the business or financial fields.

  2. Apply for certification. Applying to join the IMA and CMA certificate program shows that you are prepared to pursue certification. After paying a membership fee and the CMA entrance fee, you qualify to move on to the next steps. 

  3. Pass a certification exam. The IMA’s CMA exam is composed of two parts, each with 100 questions and two essay questions. The exam will test your financial knowledge, analysis and ethics. The test currently has a low passing rate, but there are many resources available to help you prepare well.

  4. Meet the CPE requirements. The IMA requires that you meet continuing professional education (CPE) requirements after passing the exam. You will need to earn 10 hours of CPE in the first year after completing the exam. You can meet this requirement through seminars, college courses and workshops.

  5. Complete the experience requirement. After passing the exam, you will complete two years of qualifying experience before you can receive certification. After completing these steps you will be granted your CMA certification and can begin your career as a certified management accountant.

Certified management accountant job description example

The Rollings Co. is seeking an individual to fill the position of management accountant. The position involves analyzing and reporting the finances of the company. The management accountant is responsible for creating the budget, making investment decisions, and advising the senior management on the company’s financial state. A bachelor’s degree and a CMA certification are required. The ideal candidate has five to eight years of experience in the accounting or financial fields.

Related careers

  • Accountant

  • Senior accountant

  • Certified public accountant

  • Accounting manager

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