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Certified Management Accountant Career Info and Education Requirements

Job Descriptions January 10, 2013

Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) manage an organization or company financials. Essential control functions are performed by CMAs and decision makers are informed about different aspects of the company’s financial situation. New products are developed, and strategic planning is completed in a company by executive teams that CMAs belong to and play an active role.

Education Requirements for Certified Management Accountant

CMAs are required by employers to have completed a bachelor degree program in finance, economics or accounting. Schools offer bachelor’s degree courses in taxation, finance, marketing, business law, management, and financial accounting. Students are allowed to participate in part-time or summer-time internships to gain hands on experience. Some accountants prefer to prepare themselves with a master degree in business administration or accounting. Many seek certification to improve their credentials, and they are referred to as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). To become a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) a prospective candidate has to complete a bachelor degree program from an accredited school; in addition, the candidate will need a GMAT or GRE score that is at a minimum of the fiftieth percentile. Alternatively, certification in the field will also suffice. Applicants for certification will need to have two years of experience in management accounting.

Certification Information

The Institute of Management Accountants offers certification for CMAs. Candidates have to take a written examination in two parts; the first part deals with examinees’ understanding of topics such as professional ethics, Internet controls, performance management, budgeting and forecasting, and planning. In the second part, examinees are tested on their understanding of topics such as corporate finance, investment decisions, financial statement analysis, risk management and decision analysis.

Qualification for the exam includes completion of a bachelor degree program and a minimum of two years of work experience in management accounting. Many schools that have an accounting degree programs also offer preparation courses to help students who plan to take the CMA exam. After passing the exam, qualified CMAs are expected to participate in continued education through the entire duration of their careers.

Career Information

Certified Management Accountants are required to ensure that the company’s internal finances are in order, apart from participating in strategic business planning, designing and evaluating business processes, preparing reports, and looking for accounting irregularities. Companies also rely on CMAs to track transactions, management of assets and costs, evaluation of performance, and budgeting. Certified Management Accountants are required to have strong communication skills both verbal and written along with mathematical skills. They also need to have sufficient computer knowledge to be able to use accounting software. Certified Management Accountants are highly employable with job opportunities in virtually every industry. They can aim at getting hired at every hierarchical level including Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Vice President of Finance, Finance Manager, Internal Auditor, Budget Analyst, Financial Analyst and Staff Accountant.

Employment Salary and Outlook

In 2009, CMAs took home salaries thirty-one percent higher than those of non-certified accountants at comparable levels (source: IMA’s salary survey). Accountant jobs are projected to grow at twenty-two percent from 2008-2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, which is faster than average rate. Increased corporate responsibility and financial laws are expected to help generate around 279,400 jobs during the next decade. In 2008, accountants took home an average annual salary of $59,430 (source: BLS). Higher level accountants earned in excess of $102,380 including bonuses and benefits.

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