This is a question that many professionals in the accounting and finance field grapple with. The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential is highly regarded in the industry, but is it really worth the effort?
Known for their capability of making informed decisions and generating growth strategically, a CMA would definitely be able to answer this question confidently. Since you’re not one, yet, let’s help you go about it!
In a Nutshell…What is the CMA?
Before we delve into the worthiness of the CMA certification, it's essential to understand what it entails. The CMA is a globally recognized professional certification offered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). It's designed for financial professionals who want to excel in management accounting, financial management roles.
To earn the CMA designation, candidates must pass a rigorous two-part exam covering various topics such as financial planning, analysis, control, decision support, and ethics. Additionally, candidates must meet certain educational and experience requirements.
The CMA is a powerful passport able to open doors to job opportunities not only in your home country but also around the world. This global recognition is particularly valuable for individuals seeking international career prospects.
The CMA curriculum is carefully crafted and regularly updated to equip candidates with in-depth knowledge in areas such as financial analysis, planning, and decision-making. This specialized knowledge can enhance your ability to make strategic financial decisions, which is a valuable asset in today's complex business environment.
The CMA certification places a strong emphasis on ethical standards and professional conduct. Earning the CMA designation demonstrates your commitment to ethical behavior in the workplace, which can be a valuable asset in building trust with employers, clients, and colleagues.
Becoming a CMA provides access to a vast network of professionals through the IMA. This network can be a valuable resource for career development, mentorship, and staying updated on industry trends.
Maintaining your CMA certification requires ongoing continuing education, ensuring that you stay current with evolving industry practices and regulations. This commitment to lifelong learning can be personally rewarding and professionally advantageous.
Cost and Time Commitments
One of the factors that skeptics question is the cost and time commitment associated with obtaining the CMA certification. The exam fees for each part of the CMA certification vary depending on whether you are a member of the IMA. Non-members pay a higher fee, while members enjoy discounted rates.
Additionally, there are costs associated with study materials, review courses, and exam preparation resources. It's important to factor in these expenses when considering the overall investment required. In terms of time commitment, the CMA certification requires a significant dedication of time and effort.
The exam preparation process can take several months, depending on your prior knowledge and experience. It's recommended to allocate a minimum of 150-200 hours of study time for each part of the exam. This includes reading the study materials, practicing sample questions & exams, and reviewing the key concepts. It's crucial to create a study plan and stick to it to ensure you are adequately prepared for the exams.
Study materials, review courses, & exam resources
Minimum 150-200 hours of study time per part
Varies if you're an IMA member
So, is the CMA Certification worth it?
Now that we have examined the benefits, requirements, and costs associated with the CMA certification, the question remains: Is it worth it? IMA's 2021 Global Salary Survey showed that CMAs between the ages of 30 to 39 earn 50% higher median salaries compared to their non-certified peers.* Even more, Krippel & Mitchell found that $1,696 is the approximate lifetime ROI for a CMA for every hour of exam prep.**
The answer largely depends on your career goals, aspirations, and the industry you work in. For professionals looking to advance their careers in management accounting, financial management, or related fields, the CMA certification can be a valuable asset. However, it's important to consider the specific requirements of your industry and the value placed on certifications. In some cases, real-world experience and other certifications may hold equal weight in the eyes of employers. It's crucial to speak with professionals in your field to gauge the importance of the CMA certification in your specific industry.
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In conclusion, the decision to pursue a CMA certification is a significant investment, but for many finance and accounting professionals, it is undoubtedly worth it. The CMA designation sets you apart from your peers, highlights your commitment to professional and personal development, proves your ability to make strategic business decisions, and finally ensures you end up high on the organization’s hierarchy.
*IMA's 2021 Global Salary Survey.
**Gregory L. Krippel and Sheila Mitchell, CPA. "The CMA Advantage: An Update" September 2017
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