CMA or CPA: Which One Should You Choose?

Students of Accounting and Finance often have a tough time choosing between Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certifications. Both are of equal value – the deciding factor is the type of career path you want to take. Here are the points you need to consider before choosing to go for CPA coaching or CMA coaching.

Type of Enterprise

If you foresee a career in a public enterprise, then the CPA certification is for you. But if you, like many students, wish to join a private or corporate industry, then a CMA credential is ideal.

Scope

While the CPA designation is exclusive to the US, the CMA is a globally recognised designation. Indian students who wish to pursue an accounting career in the United States may opt for a CPA, while those who desire to pursue global financial management positions are good candidates for a CMA.

Salary

Factors like experience, job title, industry and location determine the salary that CMAs and CPAs can earn. CPAs on an average tend to earn 15% more than non CPAs whereas CMAs tend to earn 60% than non-CMA professionals.

Core Strengths

If your core skills are in the areas of compliance and regulation, taxes, audits, attestation and reporting, then you should consider going for a CPA. If your focus is in the areas of corporate finance, reporting, planning and decision making, a CMA might be the qualification you need.

Benefits

While CMA and CPA are highly valued certifications, they have different advantages. CPA is seen as highly desirable for both public and corporate enterprises in the US and offers more options. But a CMA qualification provides a practical, ground-based approach to accounting and finance and can demonstrate that you have a head for business as well as accounting.

Requirements

According to the American Institute for CPA’s, the representative body for the CPA profession, you’ll need a four years bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification in accounting and business related courses and a couple of years under the supervision of a qualified CPA. Aspiring CMAs require a bachelor’s degree and two years of management accounting or financial management, along with membership in the Institute of Management Accountants.

Whichever certification you choose, it will be a substantial investment in your future career. Choose wisely and work hard.