How Do I Become a CMA?

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  • Written By: Larry Ray Palmer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2019
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The title of Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a highly sought after professional title in the modern business world. In the United States, the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) is responsible for overseeing CMA certification and setting the guidelines for qualification. Strict education and experience guidelines must be met before prospective individuals can take the exam to become a CMA. For those pursuing accounting careers, CMA certification is an important part of the journey. On average, those with the certification earn significantly more than those without it.

To become a CMA, candidates must meet the IMA's educational standards. One must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited United States university or the equivalent education and experience to qualify for CMA certification testing. The IMA also accepts education and experience credits from non-U.S. based universities on a case by case basis. For those who do not possess a bachelor's degree, the IMA may also accept a GMAT or GRE test score in the top 50th percentile or proof of certifications equivalent to the CMA, CPA or CFM certifications.


The IMA also requires candidates to have a minimum of two consecutive years of experience in the fields of management accounting and financial management to qualify for testing to become a CMA. While the IMA does not set forth rigid guidelines on what experience qualifies a candidate for CMA exam testing, this requirement does involve actual hands-on experience in the field. This experience could include working in a position where the prospective CMA has been responsible for making financial decisions on a regular basis.

Upon meeting the educational and experience requirements, prospective CMA's must become IMA members to qualify for testing to become a CMA. After submitting the annual fees and becoming an IMA member, prospective CMA candidates can submit their education and experience information to the review board and request the opportunity to sit for testing. CMA candidates must pay an additional registration fee for each portion of the exam, prior to being allowed to test. Upon receipt of the fees and verification of the candidates education and experience information, the IMA will invite the candidate to participate in the multi-part exams to become a CMA.

The CMA candidate must complete all exams within a three year period and register for at least one part of the exams within the first twelve months of entering the program. It should also be noted that the required IMA membership is renewed annually as a requirement to keep the CMA certification valid after passing the exam.


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