What are the CMA certification requirements?
The CMA certification requirements go beyond passing the CMA exam. First, you’ll need to join the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). Then you can enroll in the CMA program, prepare for the exam, and make sure you meet the CMA requirements relating to educational and professional experience.
Get ready for exciting leadership opportunities with serious earning potential as a Certified Management Accountant once you fulfill these five CMA certification requirements:
The first CMA certification requirement is to join IMA (the organization that administers the CMA exam). The process can be completed online, so you’ll be able to check this off your to-do list quickly. Follow these steps:
Membership also comes with perks like discounted and free continuing education options, networking opportunities, and access to a world-wide community of management accountants.
Once you’re an IMA member, enroll in the CMA program with the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA) and pay their fee. No one likes fees, but keep in mind that the CMA designation can pay for itself many times over in salary.
Aside from writing the CMA exam, the ICMA grades the exam, generates your score reports, notifies your employer once you’ve completed the program (if requested), and provides you with a personalized, numbered certification upon completion of the program.
After you join the CMA program, you have three years to pass both parts of the CMA exam. If you don’t pass the CMA exam in that time, you’ll need to enroll in the CMA program and pay the fee again.
After you’ve joined IMA and enrolled separately in the CMA program, you’re ready to prep for the pivotal CMA certification requirement—the exam.
The CMA exam is split into two parts that you’ll sign up for and take separately in any order. Part 1 covers financial planning, performance, and analytics. Part 2 covers strategic financial management.
Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
Strategic Financial Management
|Cost Management: 15%||Corporate Finance: 20%|
|External Financial Reporting Decisions: 15%||Decision Analysis: 25%|
|Internal Controls: 15%||Financial Statement Analysis: 20%|
|Performance Management: 20%||Investment Decisions: 10%|
|Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting: 20%||Professional Ethics: 15%|
|Technology and Analytics: 15%||Risk Management: 10%|
The CMA exam is offered in English worldwide and is available in Simplified Chinese in China. There are currently no plans to bring the CMA exam to other languages.
Passing the CMA exam can be challenging. In a given year, only about half of candidates pass each part of the CMA exam. This is why a CMA review system is so important to help you commit, study, and prepare. Remember, the CMA certification requirements mandate that you pass both parts of the CMA exam within the three-year period of your enrollment. Otherwise, any part you’ve passed will expire and you’ll have to retake both, as well as pay the entrance fee again.
The three CMA exam testing windows are January-February, May-June, and September-October. You can choose a window while registering or skip this step and decide later if you’re unsure. Learn more about registering for the CMA exam and meeting the CMA exam requirements.
The ICMA requires CMA candidates to earn a four-year degree from an accredited college or university. Although the CMA is based in the United States, degrees from any country are accepted as long as the institution is accredited.
Students at unaccredited institutions can have their degree evaluated by an independent agency. Additionally, there are several professional certificates from around the world that can substitute for a degree.
Your education requirement doesn’t need to be completed before you enroll in the CMA program or sit for the CMA exam. You’ll just need to complete the education requirement and send in verification (i.e., transcripts) within seven years of passing the CMA exam.
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ICMA requires that CMA candidates have at least two continuous years of full-time work experience in management accounting or financial management. This CMA certification requirement can also be met by working part-time at least 20 hours per week. Two years of qualifying part-time work will count as one year of full-time work.
Your experience requirement doesn’t need to be completed before you enroll in the CMA program or sit for the CMA exam. You have seven years from the date you pass the exam to complete the experience requirement and submit a work verification form.
Each calendar year, CMAs have to complete 30 hours of continuing professional education (CPE), at least 2 hours of which must be in ethics. Gleim offers hundreds of hours of CPE courses that you can choose from each year, and IMA chapters sometimes offer free CPE opportunities throughout the year.
It is not part of the CMA certification requirements to complete the continuing education requirement until after you have passed both parts of the CMA exam. However, this may mean that you’ll need to complete CPE before you’ve met the other CMA requirements (such as the experience and education requirements). The CPE reporting period begins Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31, so you will not have to complete continuing education until the period beginning Jan. 1 following your completion of the CMA exam.