Calling all prospective certified management accountants!Get ready to receive your CMA designation in 2024!
Next year promises to be another big one when it comes to technology and global busines developments. Don’t get left behind crunching numbers with your pencil behind your ear - get the CMA certification and break out of the mold once and for all.
The days of sitting behind your computer pouring over endless reports that seem to disappear into a black hole are over. As a certified management accountant you can make a real difference to businesses by bringing your strategic management, technology and data analytics skills to the table.
In this article we’re going to break down all the requirements you need to fulfill to get certified. By the end, you’ll understand how to meet the CMA certification requirements and you’ll be well on your way to career success.
The first step towards writing the CMA exam is to enroll as a member with the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (IMA USA).
As a rule you will need to have a completed bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance to get entry into the IMA. This must be from an accredited college or university. The IMA will assess your qualification when you register online via the IMA website.
There are three membership types offered by the IMA. When you enroll as a student or academic you will be eligible for discounted membership fees. This is IMA’s way of assisting accounting professionals practicing full-time in a business environment to achieve certification.
The costs of the CMA program will depend on the type of membership you hold. There are four kinds of fees charged by the CMA:
- Initial enrollment fee - for academics and professionals - £12
- Exam entrance fee - eligible for 36 months
- Exam booking fee - fee paid for each time you book an exam appointment
- Annual membership fee - paid to IMA, keeping membership ACTIVE
We went ahead and crunched some numbers of our own, providing you with the total certification cost of CMA. If you’re interested in all that, you can read: CMA CERTIFICATION COSTS. Otherwise have a look at the summary below. These reflect the estimated costs for the coming year.
Right! With all that out the way, let’s move speedily along to the exam entry requirements.
Pass the CMA Exam
Ok, so by now you should have heard from the IMA about the eligibility of your bachelor’s degree and registered with the IMA online. Having paid your enrollment fee, membership fee and your entrance fee you would be well on the path to exam preparation.
Write Part 1 and 2 of the exam
This might seem like a ridiculous statement, but you have to pass both parts of the CMA exam in order to get your CMA designation. Each part of the exam covers different topics covering all the advanced elements of management accounting, and you must show proficiency in all topics.
You can take the CMA exam 3 times a year during exam testing windows.
Completing your certification - a timeline
You must complete the qualification within 3 years of paying the entrance fee. The shortest time for those who have a bachelor's degree is 6 - 9 months, but the average completion time globally is 12 - 18 months.
While you’re taking notes about the basic requirements of becoming a certified management accountant CMA, remember to keep an active membership with IMA during the time you are writing your exams and afterward to receive certification. Any time that CMA candidates cause their membership to lapse, they are taken off the database.
The IMA has prescribed continuing professional education requirements in order to keep your IMA membership active. CMA certification signifies that you are competent in the following areas:
- Financial planning and analysis
- Strategic financial management and control
- Executive decision making and professional ethics
- Planning performance and analytics
- Technological process integration
To keep your skills current and responsive to changing developments in the field of finance and accounting, the IMA provides many avenues for completing CPE requirements.
CPE is a keystone practice for the IMA. They are very committed to continuing the high educational and professional standards set by their organisation. Around the world, their members are in demand precisely because they strictly maintain their CPE requirements for all members.
Work smart, not hard
This is going to take 30 hours of your time an year to achieve but if you sign up with a tuition provider that includes CPE in their fees then you’ll have received a real bonus because they will give you access to their CPE database - sorted!
Practical work requirements
CMA certification requirements regarding practical work experience requires you to have at least 24 months experience working at a recognised employer or in a recognised field within accounting. This pertains to full-time employment.
For those that work part-time, you must work 20 hours a week and you will only be credited with 1 year for every 2 years part-time employment.
You will need to demonstrate practical competence and professional ethics in the following areas:
• Financial analysis
• Monthly, quarterly, and year-end close
• Auditing - both internal and external
• Corporate finance
• Budget preparation and reporting
• Managing general ledger and balance sheets
• Company investment decision making
• Corporate financial accounting
• Cost accounting and analysis
• Risk evaluation and risk assessment
• Data analytics pertaining to accounting and financial management
• The ability to control external financial reporting decisions
• Implementation and management of financial technologies
• Tax accounting, analysis, and planning
• Strategic management
• Sustainability reporting
• Teaching management accounting or financial management at the college/university level
Submit work experience
Submitting your work experience is very easy with IMA. All you have to do is fill out a work verification form and email it to ccurtin[@]imanet.org. Further details can be found in the CMA Handbook on the IMA website.
Congrats! You did it! After a lot of hard work you met all the certified management accountant requirements and now you’re about to get professional certification.
What are the next steps?
Firstly, you will need to wait for about 6-8 weeks to receive your results statement from IMA. They will also post you a personal my IMA transcript.
This account is from a past CMA student and gives you an idea of what finalisation of your certification looks like in real life (the account was taken from linkedin.com)
‘I took the first CMA exam at a Prometric location in the U.S. on January 3, 2018, and the second exam at the same location on January 10, 2018… I received the results via email from the IMA on March 14, 2018 (exactly 42 calendar days later). Because I met both the education and experience requirements and had the IMA verify them prior to my exam results being released, I received the CMA credential on March 16, 2018. I received an email confirming my exam results from Prometric on March 22, 2018. My certificate was placed in the USPS on March 28, 2018 and I received the certificate on April 2, 2018.’
CMA Eligibility Criteria for the UK
In the United Kingdom, the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) designation is generally overseen by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), which is different from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in the United States.
The eligibility criteria set forth by CIMA for aspiring CMAs are as follows:
Graduate Entry: A Bachelor’s degree in any discipline from a recognised institution.
AAT Fast Track: If you have completed the AAT Level 4 Professional Diploma in Accounting, you can fast-track to the CIMA Professional Qualification.
CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting: If you don't have relevant qualifications, you can start with the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting, which provides foundational knowledge.
You'll need to pass a series of exams which include the Operational, Management, and Strategic levels, each of which contains multiple subjects.
Practical Experience Requirement
Three years of relevant practical experience, which can be gained before, during, or after the exams. This is documented and verified through the CIMA Practical Experience Requirement (PER) process.
Pay annual membership dues to CIMA to maintain your status.
Ethical and Professional Standards
Adhere to CIMA's Code of Ethics and professional standards.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Once qualified, you are required to maintain your skills and knowledge through CPD activities.
Should you do CMA or CIMA?
Great question because they are so similar and both lead to being a certified management accountant.
Here we examine two of the biggest decision making factors that will help you to answer this question, namely where you want to practice management accounting and how quickly you want to achieve certification.
Location where you want to practice mangement accounting
If you intend to remain in the UK for the foreseeable future and want to be recognised as a management accountant then the CIMA would be best for you.
If you are in the US and want to remain there, you can make good use of your bachelor's degree or equivalent in the US by registering for CMA and achieving membership in the short term.
If you have your sights set on overseas companies and opportunities, then both are good options. However, if you specifically want to reside and work in China, India and the Middle East, you will find CMA a very attractive option.
How quickly do you want to achieve certification?
If you already have a degree in accounting or finance, then CMA is a great alternative. Since it takes only 6-9 months and gives critical skills and knowledge to work as a management accountant, you can go ahead and get on track with your career goals fairly quickly.
If, however, you are already a CA or hold an executive position in finance and accounting, you may as well sign up to do the Gateway Exam for CIMA and achieve your CGMA designation within a few months.
Is CMA accepted in the UK?
The short answer is YES.
Many multinational companies that operate in both the US and the UK value the CMA certification due to its focus on management accounting, strategic management and financial planning. CMA certification has gained popularity in recent years because the IMA are dedicated to providing the latest and cutting edge information to its students and members.
Generally CMA members are well trained and prepared to deal with the many challenges that are presented to them in the business environment. In the UK, there are a number of chief financial officers and chief operating officers that hold the CMA designation, along with other certifications.
The CMA certification is by no means an entry level qualification. The exam is amongst the most difficult in the world of professional accreditation and that is why many students choose to pursue other avenues. Only 50% of students that sit to write the CMA achieve the pass score of 360/500 points, so anyone that passes this exam is seen as having a high level of expertise in management accounting.
We can recommend the CMA certification, especially if you are working for a multinational that has companies in both the US and UK.
In this article we covered important information related to CMA entry requirements. Here are the highlights:
- You must have active IMA membership and pay the prescribed fees
- You need to meet the education, CPE and work requirements set by the IMA
- You will receive your IMA certificate approximately 3-4 months after you write the final part of the CMA exam
- In the UK you can do the CIMA qualification as an alternative to CMA
- CMA is a recongnised certification in the UK, and is gaining popularity
We hope that this has been informative and helpful. If you have any questions regarding CMA or CIMA, contact us today or take a look at our comprehensive resources.
Otherwise, we’ll see you online for our live lectures and webinars given by some of the world's best management accountants.