Contact Us : 800.874.5346        International: +1 352.375.0772
Contact Us : 800.874.5346        International: +1 352.375.0772

CMA Certification Requirements

The clear path to career growth

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:

  1. Join IMA (Institute of Management Accountants)
  2. Enroll in the CMA program
  3. Pass the CMA exam
  4. Have a four-year degree from an accredited college or university
  5. Have at least two years of management accounting or financial management experience

Not an IMA member?

Click here to complete Step 1 of the CMA certification requirements right now Opens in new window

Join IMA

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:

Apply for your membership

Pay the membership and one-time application fees

Membership also comes with perks like discounted and free continuing education options, networking opportunities, and access to a world-wide community of management accountants.

CMA program requirement

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.

Choose a trusted CMA review provider like Gleim to study hundreds of retired questions from the past CMA exams, with detailed answer explanations.

CMA exam requirement

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.

Part 1:
Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
Part 2:
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.

CMA education requirement

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.

Calling all students!

Are you aware of the benefits of taking the CMA exam while you’re a student? For one, you’ll receive discounts on your IMA membership, CMA program, and CMA exam fees. Plus, your college coursework will help prepare you for the CMA exam, saving valuable study time and reinforcing the concepts.

Gleim helps students save up to 20% on CMA exam review materials!

CMA experience requirement

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.

Continuing education requirement

Maintaining CMA certification requirements after you pass the exam

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

About CMA Certification Requirements

Does part-time experience meet the CMA requirement?

You can use continuous part-time work to satisfy the experience portion of the CMA certification requirement as long as it was at least 20 hours a week. In this case, two years of part-time experience will count as one year of full-time experience.

Does teaching experience satisfy the CMA requirement?

Teaching experience can be qualified experience if it is full-time and at least 60% of the course load taught is accounting or finance above the principle level.

In fact, IMA works to help full-time faculty earn their CMA credential by waiving some CMA fees. Learn more about the CMA Opportunity Program and get your application on our cost to become a CMA resource page.

What is the criteria for meeting the two years of continuous work for CMA requirements?

Primarily, your work experience should help you develop management accounting or financial management in a variety of forms. To meet the CMA certification requirements set by IMA, you’ll need to demonstrate a role that involves relevant tasks such as:

  • Preparing financial statements
  • Financial planning and analysis
  • Internal or external auditing
  • Budget preparation and reporting
  • Management of general ledger or balance sheets
  • Financial forecasting
  • Investment decision making
  • Cost analysis
  • Risk evaluation

Can I meet the CMA requirement with a temporary position or internship?

To qualify for your experience requirement, the position cannot have been an internship or a clerical or non-technical position.

How much does it cost to become a CMA?

CMA costs vary based on your membership level and how you choose to prepare for the exam. See a full breakdown.