What is a CMA (Certified Management Accountant)?

A certified management accountant works with a companies to advise them on financial matters.
A CMA working.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2015
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In general, a certified management accountant (CMA) works specifically with a company to advise it on financial matters that affect the overall management of the company. He or she may provide advice on corporate spending, budgeting, financial planning, and issues related to taxation compliance.

Unlike a CPA, this accountant seldom works with the public. Instead, he or she is usually employed directly by a company in the capacity of in-house counsel on all financial affairs. The person may work with company employees to help them make good choices regarding investments or help them discover tax breaks and loopholes, but his or her primary job is to oversee the financial issues that affect the overall corporate structure.

CMAs have specialized training and certification processes. Training usually involves study in economics, financial analysis, performance measurement, budgeting, financial planning, business ethics, and corporate taxation. Certification involves a three to four-part test that is conducted over several days. The test itself tests for proficiency in both certified management and certified public accountant matters. Most people who specialize in this field claim that the tests are a little more difficult than CPA testing, though CPAs may disagree.


In addition, CMAs may come from a slightly different field than CPAs, although they both tend to at least have a four-year degree in business, finance or economics. In the US, states may also require specific classes prior to sitting for the certification exam. This accountant, however, may study more aspects of business than the CPA. Additionally, there are a number of schools that now offer correspondence or Internet courses to quickly pass the exams for people who already have a degree in business, finance or economics.

Most countries have some form of a CMA position or designation, since all big companies benefit by an in-house financial expert. In Canada, for example, the training and position title are the same. In the UK, the position is called a chartered management accountant.


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Discuss this Article

Post 21

I have done my B.Tech in Information Technology

and working as a Code developer in one of the top

tier IT companies in India. I'm 25 and just have a year experience. I'm thinking of a career switch from IT to finance. Would CMA be a good start as I cannot leave my job for an MBA for financial reasons.

Post 20

I have completed my bcom degree from India and now I am working in Dubai. I'd like to study CA in Dubai, so can I have details regarding university, how many year course, fees, etc.?

Post 19

I did my M.Sc in Statistics. now should I do CMA?

Post 18

CMA does everything above, but all this planning, budgeting, tax (yes, a CMA should have basic tax planning knowledge) can be done just as well as a CPA.

I believe what makes CMA competitive, is everything they do is strategic. A good CMA should work towards eliminating weakness in a company. Exploit assets to take advantage of emerging opportunities that are aligned with the overall corporate strategy and meets ROI expectations.

While doing all of this, they will consequently look into risk management such as tax exposure, legal exposure, internal controls, and resource management (a.k.a. budgeting).

A CMA is not Superman or wonder woman. Whenever an area is unknown or not quantifiable, they must seek expert advise.

CMAs tend to

understand IT better than the average accountant. Some CMAs end up directing the IT team and/or business intelligence groups in companies.

Many CMAs find themselves at the manager/director level. Rough estimate in Canada, year 2011, CMA manager would get 80K to start, while CMA directors get at least 120K to start. (not including bonus, benefits, stock options).

I expect the USA salaries to be slightly higher (+30 percent at least).

Either way, if you are in fortune 500 or a mining company, better to negotiate stock options, that's how you retire at 50 years old.

Post 16

May I know how much is the school fee for until graduate? And are there any schools that provide scholarships?

Post 15

Has anyone completed CMA in UK recently and what study techniques were used to pass the exam?

Post 14

I just finished taking the 4th exam for the CMA designation, still waiting for the results. Now the it is a two part exam. it has taken me two years to get this far, working 50+ hours per week plus wife and kids. CMA deal in planning, financial analysis, budgeting, controls etc. but as well as management and development of the company.

The test itself is tough and less than 50 people people pass each part and less than 30 percent complete the certification process. I enjoyed it and look forward to my next certification.

Post 13

How can you find out if someone has a CMA or CP designation?

Post 12

requirements for cma?

Post 11

what is ratio of success in every session? how much is normal time to complete it.

Post 9

I have done and am interested in doing C.M.A in Dubai. please guide.

Post 8

1.As an accountant, can you please give a brief description of your daily job responsibilities? Please include percentages in your response.

2.How much education did you have to acquire?

3.Where did you receive your education and why?

4.What are some other areas of job opportunities available? Please provide jobs one could explore after completing their education now or within the next five years. Please include percentages in your response.

5.What are some advantages of being an accountant?

6.What are some disadvantages of being an accountant?

7.Overall, have you obtained job fulfillment?

8.What advice can you give to students?

9.Please give your name, place of work, and how long you have been an accounting expert.

Post 6

CMAs have no involvement in tax matters. Generally speaking, they specialize in in-company accounting matters.

Post 5

The CMA is not usually involved as a tax advisor as the CMA exam does not include tax matters in the U.S.

Post 4

..m a bcom graduate !! what preparations do i need to do cma in uk?

Post 3

i want to know more about CMA, CPA i am pursuing MBA finance, Please advise me how these modules can help me to evolve my career.

Post 1

what is starting salary of a cma?

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