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What is the average salary for a certified management accountant (CMA)?

Worldwide, Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) make $59,750 annually on average. The average CMA base salary in the Americas is $105,000. This is about $30,000 higher than the average salary for an accountant, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor.

What makes a Certified Management Accountant valuable?

The CMA certification is more valuable than ever, and the sooner you decide to get it, the sooner you can begin earning more. Let’s look at what exactly makes it a desirable designation.

How the CMA serves the accounting industry

Certified Management Accountants specialize in managerial accounting. They provide the “why” behind the numbers, manage project proposals, and advise on the potential for future profits.

  • Because of their business and managerial knowledge, CMAs are adept at supervising teams and managing projects. Any company that needs to compare multiple projects, such as large manufacturers, will value CMAs because they are qualified to make high-level business decisions.
  • As financial experts, CMAs are excellent at understanding different investment opportunities and making informed decisions while managing risk. This makes them excellent financial advisers and executive decision makers.
  • Certified Management Accountants are uniquely skilled. They bring a level of business expertise beyond the scope of non-certified accountants and possess financial knowledge that non-accounting executives lack. This makes CMAs suited to management positions in almost any company, from not-for-profit businesses to major Fortune 500 companies.

Want to learn more about becoming a Certified Management Accountant?
The Gleim CMA Exam Guide explains everything you need to know about the CMA Exam and how to get started with it today.

How the CMA serves your career path

Becoming a CMA advances your career by opening up new, upper-level positions. After all, making cost-minded decisions is a valuable asset in any industry.

  • CMAs can easily move across many different kinds of industries and businesses. This mobility gives you the opportunity to gain more experience and advance your career.
  • The CMA is an internationally recognized certification. Obtaining it will open doors in other countries and at large international companies.
  • The business knowledge you'll gain by becoming a CMA will serve as a valuable asset when negotiating for management positions and climbing to an executive position.
  • While CMAs specialize in managerial accounting, they're still comfortable enough with cost accounting to have a firm understanding of financial statements and reports. Being the bridge between the financial and management sides of the company means you get to experience both worlds.
  • The Big 4 firms specifically request the CMA for certain upper-level positions, so the CMA is the path to a top-notch role. This is because managerial accounting enables CMAs to understand clients from a business perspective.
  • CMAs report that their favorite aspects of the job include their relationships with coworkers, employee benefits, and salary.

IMA Global Salary Survey Report

Each year, Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) conducts a global salary survey to discover trends in compensation and other useful information for members. IMA is the largest management accounting association in the world, and its certification branch, the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA), is responsible for the development, administration, and grading of the CMA exam.

We’ve combed through the 2020 survey results and compiled the most important data for you to know.

2020 Global Salary Survey

The 2020 IMA Global Salary Survey collected data from over 4,000 IMA members in 80 different countries. This year, 47.6% of the responses come from China, 28.1% from the United States, 4% from the United Arab Emirates, and the remaining 20.3% were split among the remaining 77 countries.
The figure below from IMA represents the median income for countries with at least 1% of survey responses.

2020 Median Salary and Compensation by Country

Positions held by CMAs

Across respondents, all sizes of organizations were represented equally. Respondents from organizations with 99 or fewer employees represent 24.2%, respondents from companies with 100 to 499 employees make up 25.7%, 27.3% are employed with organizations with 500 to 4,999 people, and 22.7% work for companies with 5,000 or more employees.

This reporting shows that CMAs are valued for their expertise in any size organization and at every level. Over 70% of respondents agree that achieving the CMA provides them with career opportunities.

CMAs ages 20-29 who also hold senior management positions reported earning 100% to 107% more than their uncertified peers in median salary and total compensation, respectively. This shows that even for younger accountants, the CMA is a worthy investment that not only increases earnings but provides opportunities for advancement. In fact, of the respondents who hold top management or senior management positions, a majority are CMAs.

CMAs are also more likely to hold specific prestigious positions such as CFO, Controller, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis, and Senior Financial Analyst. Over 60% of the respondents who held these positions were CMAs.

Median CMA salary by region

Across all management levels, CMAs earn more than their peers, especially in senior management positions, where they make as high as 58% more in total compensation.

Gender pay gap among CMAs

In the 2020 IMA Salary Report, 50% of all respondents were women. This is up by 10% compared to the 2019 report, leading to larger variations in the wage gap reported. The Americas remained mostly unchanged with a total salary gap of 86%. The Middle East/Africa/India region (MEAI) had the highest increase at 22%. However, Europe and Asia increased only slightly by 7% and 3%, respectively.

The good news is that younger accountants are continuing to start their careers on relatively equal footing regardless of gender, while the older age groups still show the highest disparities in pay. This is especially true in the MEAI region, where the total compensation for women was actually 62% higher than men in the 20-29 age group, while those ages 40-49 made 59% less than men.

With the recent spike of entry-level women CMAs, we can expect the gender wage gap to slowly decrease as they rise within their respective organizations.

2020 wage gap in compensation by region.

Graph from IMA

Should I get both a CMA and CPA certification?

Over the length of their careers, people holding only a CMA certification earn approximately 36% higher than the median income, those holding only a CPA certification earn 29% higher than the median income, and those holding both certifications earn 55% higher than the median income.

To learn more about combining a CMA and CPA certification, visit our accounting certifications resource page.

Compensation by age and certification (U.S. only)

Graph from IMA

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Beyond the Certified Management Accountant Salary

Becoming a CMA not only offers great salary benefits, but also improves other aspects of your life and career. Do not underestimate the importance of these factorsyour career is about more than how much you make.

Career opportunities

More than three-fourths of CMAs agreed that the certification provides career opportunities. One respondent to IMA’s survey said, “The CMA helped open doors for me in terms of promotions and opportunities for advancement. Being a globally recognized credential that signifies a higher-level talent, it has served as a point of differentiation as I continue to grow my career.”

Career advancement

As in the past, career advancement was cited as the number one reason why respondents pursue the CMA. From IMA’s survey responses, a financial reporting manager working in Dubai said, “The value of the CMA is more than expected. After completing the CMA, there is a globally renowned certification attached to my name. My skills are enhanced, and people have started recognizing me.”

Raises and job growth

Most CMAs (57%) report receiving a raise within the last year. This is highest in the Americas (67%) and lowest in the MEAI region (48%). The median raise for Asia, Europe, and MEAI was 10% of total compensation, and the median raise was 4.4% of total compensation for the Americas.

Job satisfaction

CMAs consistently rate their overall job satisfaction highly. On average, nearly 80% of CMA candidates report loving their jobs. In addition, most CMA candidates believe their jobs have a significant impact on the decisions and direction of their company.

Around 90% of CMAs felt certification gave them more confidence to perform their job at a high level, and more than 90% would recommend CMA certification to a friend. Visit our CMA Requirements resource page for more information on all of the CMA requirements and how you can meet them.

Career mobility

Most CMAs agreed that the CMA designation boosts their ability to move up not only within their organization, but also within their industry and across industries. More than 70% agreed that the CMA gives them confidence in job security as the world moves into the Digital Age. This factor is more important than ever, as more and more workplace tasks become automated or are performed by robots and other artificial intelligence.

2019 CMA Salary

Data from the IMA 2019 Global Salary Survey shows that the average Certified Management Accountant (CMA) base salary in the Americas is $102,500 (compared to $65,000 globally). Among non-CMAs, median base salary is $80,000 in the Americas and $30,000 globally. All said, the average base CMA salary in the Americas is ~28% greater than that of a non-CMA, and the average CMA salary, globally, is ~117% greater than that of a non-CMA.

Only 37% of respondents this year hold the CMA, down 19% from last year, and the pool of respondents is much younger on average than in past surveys. This explains the slight drop in numbers across the board (CMAs and more experienced accountants earn higher salaries). Even if those figures are slightly suppressed by less experienced accountants, they are great news for anyone interested in the profession. Earning the CMA remains one of the best professional development options available to accountants, and the benefits extend beyond just a higher salary.

Average Certified Management Accountant salary by region

CMA salary in the Americas

The median base salary for CMAs in the Americas is $102,500, and the median for non-CMAs is $80,000. This region continues to maintain the highest salaries overall by a large margin, but it did experience a 10% decrease since last year. Median total compensation for CMAs in the Americas is as high as $115,000.

CMA salary in Asia

The median base salary for CMAs in Asia is $28,710, and the median for non-CMAs is $20,000. Asia has experienced relatively little change in compensation (a 5% decrease).

CMA salary in Europe

The median base salary for CMAs in Europe is $70,000, and the median for non-CMAs is $50,000. Of every region, Europe saw the largest increase (17.4%) in survey respondents age 20-29 this year.

CMA salary in the Middle East and Africa

The median base salary for CMAs in the Middle East and Africa is $30,000, and the median for non-CMAs is $12,250. The Middle East and Africa region saw the greatest decline in median earnings going into 2019, at 30%.

About 2019 CMA salary trends

Compensation for CMAs has fluctuated over the past several years. Globally, average compensation has recently decreased, but it is important to remember a few things when looking at these numbers, including:

The numbers reflect large regions, not necessarily individual countries.
The countries within these regions may not see the same changes as the regions as a whole. A good example is China, whose numbers did hold despite a decrease in Asia’s overall compensation.

Large numbers of younger CMAs have an impact on reported figures.
Younger CMAs are responding to the Global Salary Survey in greater numbers—almost 70% of respondents to the 2019 IMA Global Salary Survey were under 40 years old, which significantly impacts the calculation of average salaries. Younger professionals typically make less due to being in the early stages of their careers.

Median compensation decreased roughly twice as much for non-CMAs than for CMAs, which goes to show that the value of the CMA designation remains high despite fluctuations in pay.

Regardless of fluctuations, CMAs make more than non-CMAs at all levels of management.
IMA’s 2018 and 2019 Global Salary Surveys have shown that, across the board, the gap in compensation is getting bigger every year.

Globally, the gap between women’s and men’s compensation is virtually nonexistent, which is especially significant since women’s salaries were only 90% of men’s during the previous year.

About 60% of all CMAs report having received a raise within the last year. In the Americas, this percentage was highest, at 67%, and it was lowest in the Middle East and Africa, at about 49%. Globally, the median annual raise for CMAs has increased.

CMAs worldwide received about 84% of their total compensation via their base salary. The remainder of their compensation came in the form of bonuses, profit sharing, overtime, and other benefits.

2018 CMA Salary

According to the 2018 survey report, the global average salary for a CMA was $81,000. If you include bonuses and other compensation, that number rises to $92,000. Total compensation for CMAs is 67% higher than non-CMAs.

The gap between CMA and non-CMA salaries is widening. Last year, CMAs only earned 50% more in total compensation. The author of the survey report, Shannon Charles, Ph.D., commented that “Some of this increase could be partly attributable to a shift in the percentage of CMAs across regions.” There has been a slight increase in the number of CMAs in the Americas and a decrease in Europe and Asia, meaning there is a greater concentration of CMAs in the region of the globe where CMAs are paid the most. Don’t extrapolate too much with this information though, because it’s only a trend of the past year. The 2016 report noted the opposite, that the mix of respondents moved from being U.S.-centric to increasingly global.

Let’s break down the IMA’s report by region.

CMA Salary in the Americas

The median base salary for a CMA in the Americas is $110,000, and median total compensation is $125,000. For non-CMAs, those amounts are $83,800 and $92,000 respectively.

CMAs make an average of 36% more in total compensation, which may seem small compared to the global average increase of 67%, but that’s because the base salaries in the Americas are already so high. Average CMA and non-CMA salaries in the Americas are the highest anywhere.

When you compare this year’s CMA salary numbers to last year’s, you see that base salary increased 3.5% and total compensation increased by 1.6%. In the Americas, the difference between CMA and non-CMA average total compensation increased from 23% to 36%, a jump of 13 percentage points.

CMA Salary in Asia

Across Asia, CMAs make an average base salary of $30,000, and $34,000 in average total compensation. This is about 50% more than the salary of non-CMA accountants in Asia, which is $20,000 base and $23,000 in total.

In Asia, the average base salary for a CMA decreased 14.3% from last year’s survey. Total compensation fell by 15%. But the salary and compensation of non-CMA accountants fell by much more: nearly 25%. So, salaries fell for all accountants in Asia but less severely for CMAs, meaning the gap between CMA compensation and non-CMA compensation widened. Despite the rough year, the CMA remains a good investment for the future.

The report notes that there was an increase in the number of young respondents (20-29 years old), who normally occupy the lower-paying positions. This could account for the salary decrease.

CMA Salary in Europe

European CMAs make an average base salary of $85,000. Average total compensation is $88,620. They make about 50% more than their non-CMA peers, who have a base salary of $56,500 and total compensation at $57,500.

In the past year, compensation has gone up for CMAs and down for non-CMAs. Getting certified used to only make a marginal difference (10% in past surveys) in Europe, but now that difference (50% currently) is much more substantial.

CMA Salary in the Middle East and Africa

The median base salary for CMAs in the Middle East and Africa is $35,000, and increases to $39,500 when you add in other forms of compensation. This is the region where the CMA certification makes the most difference: it more than doubles the average total compensation of non-CMA accountants. Non-CMAs in the Middle East and Africa have a base salary of $17,700 and total compensation averaging out at $18,500.

Average salaries fell for everyone in the Middle East and Africa this year. CMA compensation went down 16.6%, and non-CMA compensation decreased 25.6%. While CMA compensation fell, it did so at a slower rate than non-CMA compensation.

CMA Salary Trends

Total compensation for CMAs has fluctuated over the past few years.

Globally, 2017 continued to see the rise in compensation that began in 2015.
Europe saw a rise in compensation this year after a couple years of decline.
The Americas and Asia have experienced relatively little change in compensation.
The Middle East and Africa region saw a small decline.

CMAs make more than non-CMAs. The IMA’s 2018 Global Salary Survey shows that, across the board, the gap in compensation is getting bigger every year. The CMA certification is more valuable than ever, and the sooner you decide to get it, the sooner you can begin earning more.

How to become a CMA

The smartest route to earning your CMA, of course, is to use the best CMA review! Gleim CMA has been helping candidates pass for nearly 40 years, and our course has trained more CMAs than any other. When you get Gleim, you get everything you need to pass on the first try with confidence. Before you begin, though, you’ll want to know everything about the CMA exam, and you can find it all in our comprehensive (and free!) CMA Exam Guide.