Pick Your Better Option: CPA or CMA

Although the CPA and CMA certifications are distinct, each offers a competitive edge and an attractive, reliable income. Working toward and attaining either one shows employers and clients your commitment to finance excellence. Be aware that the work you’ll be qualified to conduct is decided by the credential you choose. Here’s a summary of each including what to expect and keep watch for.

Select the CPA for Customer-facing Focus

Accounting functions for this highly valued certificate include tax preparation, audits, and finance reporting for individuals and corporations.

  • License requirements vary by state. However, you are likely to be required to earn 150 college credits. And a Master’s in Accounting, with one to two years of supervision by a CPA.
  • The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy is working with regulators and other organizations on an evolving licensure model.
  • Associated fees/costs: prep courses and associated fees are about $3000.
  • CPAs are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education per year.
  • CPA exam particulars include:
    • The pass rate hovers around 50%.
    • The CPA exam is offered four times a year.
    • It has four sections, each of which is four hours long. All must be passed within an 18-month period.
    • Study the RPA Exam FAQ

Choose the CMA for Executive Level Function

Pursue the Certified Management Accountant credential if you are on track for an executive or upper management level in accounting.

  • Requirements are a bachelor’s degree or professional accounting certification.
  • An Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) membership is needed to take and maintain the CMA.
  • Associated fees/costs of the exam are about $700 for professional members and about $500 for student/academic members, plus the IMA member fee.
  • 30 hours of continuing education are required each year.
  • CMA exam particulars
    • A pass rate of 50%.
    • The exam is offered 3 times a year.
    • The exam is taken in two parts, covering 12 competencies.

Without a doubt, either credential will be worth your while!


Are you  a CPA or CMA looking for a new position?   Click here to view Beacon Resources’ list of open accounting and finance positions.