Ok, so if you’ve tried to work the cost of CMA certification by yourself, then you’ve realised that it’s not a simple task. A lot of head scratching and frustration happens because you can’t make head or tail of the conflicting information.
The truth is that the full cost of CMA certification is not an easy calculation because it entails more than just calculating the cost of tuition fees and CMA exam fees.
But help has arrived. Join us as we work through the costs gradually and give you the answers you’ve been searching for.
Grab a cuppa and let’s get going.
IMA Membership Type
The total cost of becoming a certified management accountant with IMA will depend on your membership type. IMA offers three levels of membership:
- Professional - default membership for working professionals
- Academic - for full-time faculty members at a recognised teaching institution
- Student - to qualify, you must be enrolled for at least 6 credit hours at a university or college
As an academic or student the IMA allows you reduced membership and exam fees, saving you a lot of money.
CMA Entrance Fee
The CMA entrance fee for the certification program must be paid before taking the examinations. This fee is non-refundable.
Candidates must complete the CMA program within three years or repay the entrance fee to continue.
The CMA entrance fee includes:
- Access to the CMA exam support package
- Reports that give performance feedback
- Review of educational and experience credentials
- An IMA-verified certificate with tracking number
- Listing of all CMAs on the IMA website
- Final score report upon completion of exams
IMA Membership Fee
IMA membership renewal must be done on an annual basis, and must be purchased when you join the Institute of Management Accountants.
The academic and professional status attract a once-off activation fee of £12.
CMA Exam Costs
The CMA exam has two parts and you will need to write both to officially pass the CMA exam and be certified as a management accountant.
Total IMA Costs
This reflects a summary of the costs so far related to the IMA. However, it does not reflect tuition costs and other expenses.
OK, if you came here for the IMA costs alone, then this is where you can part ways with us. However, let it be known that there are additional costs to getting and maintaining your CMA designation. Perhaps you want to stick around for those?
CMA Review Courses
What is a review course? Simply a course that covers all the topics of the CMA exam and gives you additional practice exams and support so that you can pass your exam first time - and also save yourself CMA fees by doing that.
CMA USA course fees differ from provider to provider. We looked at the fees of IMA approved providers and you can pay anything from £1,315 to £1,480. These providers offer their CMA courses with varying options and benefits. It will all depend on how much information and resources you want.
Some providers will include a 1-year CPE subscription and personal coaching as part of their subscription packages, increasing the value you get from signing up.
Most of these packages give you the benefits for a limited period. We are talking 12, 18 and 24 months. However, if you’re willing to pay a bit more, you’ll get an ‘access until you pass’ guarantee.
Annual CPE Requirements
Continuous professional development is a mandatory requirement to keep your IMA membership active. The annual cost of CPE is around £20 to £105 per credit hour and you’ll need to do a minimum of 30 hours a year, bringing this cost to between £600 and £3,150.
Total Costs of CMA Certification
So, here it is. The best total guess-timate we can give you, understanding that these figures cannot be exact whilst there are variables such as CPE and a review course included.
We know this looks like a huge investment. However, there are ways to decrease these costs by using our cost saving strategies below. But before we go there, bear in mind that you will get a return on your investment many times over once you get the CMA certification.
Cost Saving Strategies
Register as a student or academic
If you are enrolled with a university or college for 6 or more credit hours, then register as a student with the IMA. You will save on entrance fees and membership fees.
Academics who are full-time faculty members with a recognised university or teaching institution can get the same benefit.
Enrol with a tuition provider that has an all-inclusive package
As mentioned previously, some tuition providers will include the CPE costs in their subscription packages. This will be useful on two accounts:
- You will not have to source CPE training yourself and;
- You can stick with the same tuition provider for the duration of your studies
Early registration discounts
Some providers will offer discounts when you register early for your CMA exam and review courses. Subscribe to tuition provider newsletters for notification of these discounts.
Some accounting firms are willing to sponsor certification, at least in part. They may also offer to pay for accounting membership fees or registration fees. Check with your employer whether they are willing to take on any of the costs of CMA certification.
Plan to pass the first time
This alone can save you a lot of money! Every time you have to re-write an exam part, you will have to fork out another £281 - £379, depending on your membership type. This is where short-sightedness is dangerous.
The cost of enrolling with a tuition provider who will help you to get through your exam the first time may be well worth the cost and prevent you from throwing money down the drain.
The cost of passing the CMA exam
Honestly, there is no concrete way of quantifying the cost of passing the exam. But we’ve put our noggins into this matter and come up with a way to satisfy the curiosity of those who want this kind of information.
If the current minimum wage of a UK resident is £10.18 and it takes 300 hours of study to pass the exam (that is, if you pass both parts the first time), then it will cost the student £3,054 in earnings to study instead of working. What will you do with this information? We’re not sure, but hey, we tried.
Financial aid and tax relief
Some institutions offer financial relief for students who want to achieve an accounting certification. These are usually advertised online, and they will give this aid to students who meet their qualifying criteria.
Depending on your tax jurisdiction, you may also get some tax relief for CMA registration and membership fees. This is especially true for accounting professionals who work as a self-employed person or run a small accounting firm.
Wrapping It All Up
There you have it - a comprehensive breakdown of the costs associated with achieving CMA certification, along with some nifty strategies to shave off those expenses where you can.
We've gone the extra mile to crunch the numbers for you, and we hope this takes the guesswork out of your financial planning for this career milestone.
While the investment may seem steep at first glance, remember that earning a CMA designation is not just a badge of honor; it's a ticket to higher earning potential, greater career opportunities, and a seal of professionalism in the management accounting field.
So, is it worth it?
That's a question only you can answer, but armed with this information, you're well on your way to making an educated decision. As they say, knowledge is power, and now you have the power to navigate your CMA journey with financial savvy.
If you've found value in this deep-dive analysis, consider having a look at our CMA resources.
Until then, keep those calculators handy and your ambitions high. Here's to your success in earning that coveted CMA credential!