Certified management accounting is an exciting career that allows you to become an important support pillar to senior management teams. Through strategic financial planning, you can help to increase a company’s profitability and growth by identifying ways to manage and improve operational costs.
A certified management accountant is fast becoming a sought after profession because it promises high level business interaction and exposure to important business decisions that can change the future of companies and their employees for the better.
Riveting stuff. However, the excitement of all this might wear off in time if the financial rewards are not what you imagined.
In this article, we look at the salaries of certified management accountants in different countries, giving you a good look at what you might expect to earn.
Global Overview: What can CMAs expect?
A chartered management accountant survey was conducted in 2021 to understand the movement of salaries within the field of management accounting, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total number of 3,148 respondents who were working full-time as employees or self-employed participated in the survey in 79 countries.
The largest representation of respondents was from North America and China, where the CMA qualification is very popular. This was followed by the UAE, India and Saudi Arabia. In the last decade, the Middle East, India and China have made a targeted effort to recruit highly qualified CMAs to help them expand their global reach. The United Kingdom focuses on the CIMA qualification, but this is changing as CMA becomes more popular for its comprehensive syllabus, preparing accountants to deal with global challenges.
The average base CMA salary in the U.S. in 2020 was $105,000 and $118,500, respectively. The Northeast region had the highest median base salary ($115,000), while the Mid-Atlantic region had the highest median total compensation ($127,000).
The average salary differs when looking at the different regions in the US. All but the Plains region had higher total compensation at $110,000. In this area, Kansas' average salary is lowest at ($80,000).
The biggest increases were seen in the Mountain region (12%). Nevada yielded the highest average CMA salary for that region, and Utah the lowest at $62,405.
Participants in the Northeast region had the highest median base salary ($115,000), while those in the Plains region had the lowest ($100,000). The region with the highest median total compensation was the Mid-Atlantic region ($127,000).
Gender and Management Levels
Furthermore, we can examine the differences in median salary between genders and management levels.
The most significant difference in salaries between men and women appears at the Top Management level, with women only earning 79% of the men’s salaries. However, the gap is much smaller at the Lower Management level, with women earning nearly the same.
Other Factors for Consideration
In the Americas, students report that having a CMA designation gives them leverage in salary negotiations. CMA certification provides the foundation for high level executive skills and this has moved the careers of respondents forward substantially once they qualify. Other aspects noted in the survey were that benefits such as bonuses, share options and more senior positions were given to CMAs.
Those who can successfully implement effective strategies for growth and expansion, as well as do complex financial analysis, were ahead of their peers in the accounting industry.
Those holding the CPA certification consistently earn higher salaries. However, this gap is closing rapidly. The highest paid certified management accountants had both the CMA and CPA.
Several factors, such as job satisfaction, career options, earning potential, and career advancement, were considered alongside salaries to get a complete picture of the value of completing the CMA exam. These factors were ranked favourably by respondents and showed that management accountants find their careers to be highly satisfying. This was especially true for those in their 20s and 30s.
So, in conclusion, for the Americas - CMA is definitely worth it!
To earn these salaries, you will have to pass your CMA exams and a good tuition provider that can support you on this journey will be a key success factor. Get on track speedily by joining our network of students worldwide right now.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the other areas where CMA is popular. Let’s start our discussion by comparing other areas to the Americas.
Americas Management Salaries vs. the Global Salaries
This diagram makes it clear that America has the highest salaries for CMA certified management accountants globally. Europe follows next, with Asia and the Middle East being on par.
This could be a reflection of the length of time that the CMA certification has been available and is trusted by corporations in the US. The IMA is well known for the calibre of graduates it produces in the US and companies have made this certification a priority, attracting graduates with high salaries and perks.
In Asia and the Middle East, the certification is only now gaining the same kind of traction and you can expect these figures to climb, especially in the Middle East, where the focus is now on global integration.
In Asia, China follows America with the second largest number of CMAs globally. Let’s examine their salaries.
Respondents in China had an average base salary of $28,978 and average total compensation of $35,951. These results are largely due to a higher mix of early-career women looking to improve their future by becoming IMA members.
The percentage of respondents holding the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) in China increased significantly, with 53% holding the CMA. The CMA continues to positively impact compensation, with CMAs earning 28% more in median total compensation than those without the certification.
In China, the role of the management accounts focuses heavily on establishing and maintaining financial policies and management information systems. Business performance is heavily monitored and therefore a senior financial analyst in China can command higher salaries.
Industry Related Salaries
In China, different compensation structures exist for different industries, making it possible to earn higher salaries in the medical, finance, insurance and real estate sectors.
The Value of CMA in China
Respondents in China agree that their CMA certification has given them advantages that their counterparts don’t have. Here are some thoughts from CMA graduates:
• “As a middle-level financial professional in manufacturing, I have developed a wider perspective to look at matters...the CMA provides a road map to guide you as you
move up in management roles.”—a corporate accountant in Hunan
• “Being a CMA gives me the opportunity to thoroughly understand the role of accountants, synthesise my new and prior accounting knowledge, and develop critical
analysis skills in relation to management accounting.”—an accounting manager in Beijing
• “The CMA certification has greatly improved my confidence and performance in the workplace. It also drives me to keep learning so as to stay confident and maintain my credibility.”—a financial analyst in Hebei
• “The CMA certification makes me ideally positioned to perform my role in management and helps raise my compensation.”—a divisional controller in Beijing 
So, in conclusion, full time employees in China who are CMA graduates find IT IS WORTH IT!
Now, let’s move a little closer to home by examining what’s happening in the Middle East. Fast-growing economies such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia are making waves in the region and are offering really competitive salaries to attract the best talent.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The largest number of respondents to the IMA Salary Survey came from Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The median total compensation for respondents in the UAE is higher compared to other areas in the Middle East and India ($39,000 vs. $27,000). The median base salary in the UAE is $36,000.
Now, even though this sounds much lower than what professionals earn in America, let’s do a quick conversion at the current conversion rate of 1 dollar to 3.67 AED. That’s an annual salary of 132,120 AED. According to wisemove.ae, a decent salary in Dubai is around 10,000 - 15,000 AED a month, giving you a good lifestyle and an amount to save each month. That doesn’t sound so bad!
The value of holding the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) continues to be high. The median total compensation for respondents holding the CMA in the UAE was 103% higher than those without the certification. In addition, 89% of those holding the CMA agreed that the certification strengthens their ability to move across all areas of the business.
Gender and Age Comparisons
The table above gives us a glimpse into the changing dynamics of the workplace in the Middle Eastern region. As the emphasis on high-level management accounting skills grows in emerging markets, so do the opportunities for young professionals to enter into an exciting and dynamic business world.
Both genders in their 20s and 30s earn less than their peers in their 40s. However, women in these age groups are not as far behind in earnings as their counterparts in their 40s. This encouraging trend should continue as their young professionals grow in experience and skills.
Also, the CMA designation will allow you to earn up to $68,000 and higher, whereas a non-CMA will earn around $38,000. This shows the value of the CMA certification in the UAE. Emphasis is placed on continuing professional development in the UAE and those actively participating in CPE are rewarded financially.
The Impact of Education on Salary in UAE
The impact of higher education on salaries in the UAE is somewhat noticeable as seen by this table. A bachelor's degree or another advanced degree will increase your earnings by 29%. According to financestory.com, even a junior accountant with a bachelor's degree will start off with a salary of 60,000 AED per annum. Add the CMA designation to this and you get a big jump in earnings. There is a 6% growth projection for this position from 2023-2031 with over 136,000 openings available over that time period. This is excellent news for aspiring accountants who want to make a life in the UAE.
Before we leave the Middle Eastern region, let’s have a look at what some of the other countries in the region are paying their CMAs.
Middle East, India, North Africa
The IMA Salary Survey provides an interesting insight into the different positions held by CMAs in this area. Financial analysis and planning attracts the highest salaries and public accounting the lowest.
Compensation varies greatly across this region and also depends on whether you are a local or an expat working for a global corporation.
India - $24,608
Egypt - $17,000
Saudi Arabia - $53,433
Bahrain - $75,000 (expat salary)
In conclusion, for the Middle East, India and North Africa - the CMA is worth it!
Now, obviously, the figures represented here are a portion of all the CMAs worldwide - they are limited to the information provided by the respondents. However, they do give some insight into the kinds of salaries that are being earned by CMAs.
There are various factors that will affect salaries from region to region. Here are some of them:
Factors influencing CMA salaries
Several factors can influence a CMA salary. Let’s take a quick look at some of them:
- Education and certification: A person with multiple certifications, combined with CMA, will earn more. A candidate with a degree and a CMA certification earns more than their counterparts in other accounting fields.
- Experience: The number of years worked and the industries in which you work greatly impact earning potential. Globally, some industries command higher salaries, such as IT, finance, medicine, and manufacturing. Retail is another industry in which the CMA credential attracts attention.
- Skills: The ability to prepare financial statements from the profit and loss accounts to variance analysis and commentaries is key. However, that’s only a small portion of what a CMA should be doing. The establishment of complex financial information systems and the monitoring thereof, while providing high level data driven decisions, are what command the higher salaries earned by CMAs.
- Location: As shown by the information provided in this article, your location greatly affects the numbers in your bank account. Within a single country, the earning potential varies according to the demand for certified management accountants, the economic growth and the value placed on these skills.
CMA vs. CPA - A Quick Reflection
While both reflect prestigious accounting qualifications, they are very different in focus. CMAs focus on strategic management whilst CPAs focus on auditing and assurance.
Read any number of articles online and you will find some comparisons made between these two certifications. However, can you really compare apples with pears? That’s how it is with CMA vs. CPA. If you are trying to decide which career path to pursue, such a comparison is helpful, but not when it comes to earning potential.
If the only consideration you have for choosing a qualification is money, then here’s the quick answer: When you start off, the earnings are pretty equal, but as you gain more experience, the CMA is by far the winner and also gives you a wider scope for career progression.
Can you do CMA in the UK?
If you’re wondering about the UK and find you’re missing out on some info, you’re in luck. We’re collaborating with US tuition provider Becker to bring CMA US to the UK. Find out about the courses here.
In conclusion, the CMA designation is worth pursuing for those in North America and worldwide.
The overall job satisfaction level is very high according to the IMA survey, which may be attractive to some professionals despite living in regions where CMA is not yet the most popular accounting qualification.
Salaries for CMA-certified professionals exceed non-CMA salaries in all the countries examined in this article.
We hope you’ve found the information we’ve provided useful. VIVA is committed to providing accounting students with all the information they need to make informed decisions. We have over 10,000 students who have signed up to take our courses. If you want to know more about CMA courses, get in touch with us here.
Until next time.