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By April 1, 2022CPA Exam News

What is the difference with the CMA vs CPA?  If you’re a student or professional in the accounting field, you’re likely wondering which certification to pursue: the CPA or the CMA. Despite the fact that both of these qualifications will help you generate more income and advance in your job, their respective career paths are distinctly different.

Let’s take a look at some of the distinct advantages that each of these certifications offers, and why some professionals might prefer one over the other. While both of these qualifications are valuable to companies, you want to be sure you are making the best decision possible so that you can land your ideal job.

What Is A CMA?

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) offers the CMA designation and is in charge of its testing and administration. The certification can only be gained by someone who has acquired a unique blend of financial accounting and strategic management skills.

Some of the most frequent CMA duties include analyzing and understanding data in order to help organizations improve their financial performance. They are not like CPAs in that they do not simply crunch data for evaluation, but instead use their financial analysis to help develop find the strategy underlying corporate decisions.

Individuals with a CMA designation may pursue careers as cost accountants or risk managers, corporate controllers, senior accountants or staff accountants, as well as positions such as Accounting Manager, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and Vice President of Finance.

What Is A CPA?

Both the CPA and CMA certifications can be obtained by passing an examination the CPA must also be licensed in order to hold the title legally. If you want to pursue a career as a Certified Public Accountant, you will need 150 credit hours at the undergraduate level. After that, you’ll have to take and pass the AICPA’s four-part CPA exam.

Among the topics covered on the exam are Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG). Management related topics including finance, economics, and IT are covered in the Business Environment and Concepts component.

Some states demand that you have worked under the direct supervision of a CPA for at least two years before you may sit for the CPA exam.

CMA Vs CPA Requirements

A CPA or a CMA must fulfill a number of prerequisites before they may become certified.

In terms of education for a CMA designation, you must have a four-year bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an approved university or college, or an equivalent professional certificate, in order to become a CMA. Two years of experience in managerial accounting or financial management is required in addition to your studies.

Continuing education requirements for the CMA certification are 30 hours per year, which must be completed in order to keep your certification.

A four-year accounting bachelor’s degree is required, as is 150 total college credit hours in order to become a CPA. CPAs must also complete 40 hours of ongoing Continuing Education every year to maintain your CPA license.

CPA vs CMA Exam Difficulty

To become a certified public accountant, you will need to appear for a total of 16 hours of tests spread throughout the four sections of the exam. The CMA exam, on the other hand, is divided into two parts and requires a total of eight hours of testing time.

Despite this, the CMA exam has a somewhat lower pass rate than the CPA exam, with approximately 45% passing the two portions taken together, compared to 50% or better passing each section of the CPA exam.

There is a three-year time limit for all CMA candidates to pass both parts of the exam. The time period starts on the date of your enrollment in the CMA program. All four components of the CPA exam must be passed within the time limit of 18 months. Passing your first CPA exam section sets the clock in motion for passing the other three parts of the exam.

Career Opportunity And Salary

CPA professionals are typically interested in pursuing a career as an accountant or a financial advisor. Management accountants, public accountants, internal auditors, and other similar positions are some of the most typical job profiles for which CPAs apply.

When it comes to CMA-certified professionals, the most prevalent job titles include cost accountants, financial risk management, and consultants etc.

The average pay for a CPA is over $120,000, whereas the average compensation for a CMA is around $100,000 throughout the course of their career.

CMA Vs CPA Costs

Let’s have a look at what it would cost to invest in each of these options. The cost of becoming a CPA can range between $2,000 and $3,000. When you take into account study guides, travel, and other relevant fees, your final cost will be higher.

For the CMA, you’ll be looking at a cost of between $1,000 and $2,000. Both the CMA and the CPA examinations might cost less or the same based on many aspects that you can use to save money on the exams. Regardless of which certification you choose, you may take advantage of discount codes to help you save even more money.


CPA and CMA are two of the most advanced courses in finance. The courses themselves have their own set of advantages, such as the ability to advance one’s own status in the job. These courses are more or less equivalent in terms of the benefits supplied by the companies.

Nevertheless, the distinction between a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant is the active role that one takes after passing the Course. Despite the fact that a trained CPA can perform the duties of a CMA, CMAs are restricted to the fields of strategy and management only.