CPA vs CMA | Which is Better?

Updated:December 8, 2018
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A CPA is more widely recognized and known than a CMA. The CPA requires core educational requirements or a degree to obtain a license while a CMA can obtain a certification in a few months if the individual is dedicated. The CMA exam has two parts while the CPA exam has four sections, which makes it more ideal in those terms but each part of the CMA exam is more specific. A CPA’s job is centered around auditing and taxation practices while a CMA is based on cost and/or inventory management. CMA stands for Certified Management Accountant.


Career path difference

The CMA certification isn’t narrowed to a particular state; it is a globally acceptable license and it utilized by individuals hoping to enter the world of corporate finance or accounting. GL accounting is a better fit for a CMA license than a CPA license even though it relies upon GAAP for proper management and reporting. CPAs unlike CMAs function mostly on behalf of the public while CMAs work for the benefit of the organization or firm that hires them.


Time requirement difference

The CMA exam consists of two parts and can be finished in a year if not a few months. The fields aren’t as wide-spanning as the CPA exam so it makes studying less strenuous and more concentrated. Work experience is similar to CPAs requirements at around 2 years in the indicated field of interest. A CPA exam can be arranged from 3 months to 9 months but times can be extended with the purchase of a new NTS or Notice to Schedule.


Cost to apply for both

The CMA program costs around $225 for non-member of the IMA. If an applicant is a student or member of the IMA it may cost $75. The CMA exam ranges from $350 – $300 depending on when you register and want to take the test. Since the CMA consists of two parts the total cost can be about a $1000 including the program, and the two tests. The CPA exam costs around $1500, with all sections amounting to about $1000 including the applications and then the added costs of registration and licensing.


Potential salaries of both

A CMA’s salary may be around $115,000 in English speaking countries around the age of 35. A non-certified individual in the same field will earn consistently 33% less than CMA license holder. This advantage builds each year and lasts for an entire career in most cases. A CPAs salary can begin at around $61,000 a year, earners tend to be younger than CMAs on average but the difference is still substantial. The CMAs average salary is in the upper range of a CPAs senior salary.


Which is better?

Depending on the person’s field of interest, what industry they want to work in, and their desired title they will have to weigh the benefits and negatives of each certification. Familiarity and future goals will play a role in the path an individual takes.

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