Let’s understand the difference between CPA and CMA

Created by HighnessCloud Monday, December 2, 2019 25
Know about CPA and CMA

If you are an accountant and looking forward to starting your career in the best possible way then just your normal experience isn’t going to give you desirable results. In the current era, the accounting industry has become very diverse, and now most of the clients look for something beyond just normal bookkeeping while hiring an accountant. If you are entering the accounting industry on the basis of your degree only then you are curtailing your chances of success and you will be held responsible for it.

This is why most of the accountants plan to get a prestigious degree in order to build their reputation, trustworthiness, and reliability in the market. There are many accountants who are not satisfied with their current skill and some want to increase their salary as well. But most of these accountants aren’t sure about which certification to choose from as the first two options that come to their mind is CPA and CMA. It is true that both degrees will increase your salary and help you in getting promoted but in order to choose the best one, you will have to understand the basic difference between both these degrees.

So, let’s understand the basic difference between CPA and CMA so that you can choose the best one for yourself.

What is CPA?

CPA stands for Certified Public accountant and you can obtain this credential by passing and obtaining a license that will make you eligible to give accounting services to firms. If you are looking forward to becoming a CPA then you will need to have at least 150 credit hours of undergraduate education. If you are eligible to become a CPA then you will have to pass a four-stage examination of CPA that is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant.

You should know that some states will ask you to have work experience under a certified CPA in order to sit in the CPA exams. But that is not applicable in all the states.

What is CMA?

CMA stands for Certified Management accountant and the accountants who get the CMA credential are specialized in performance, assets and accounts management. The CMA professionals make financial decisions for a firm by using his specialized skill set. In order to give the CMA exam, you need to have at least a bachelor's degree and you should also be a member of the Institute of Management Accountant.

After fulfilling these two basic eligibility criteria for becoming a CMA, you will need to have two continuous years of working in managerial accounting. There are basically two parts of a CMA exam and you will have to clear both of them in order to get the CMA credential. The two parts of CMA consist of Financial reporting, performance, planning, and Financial Decision Making and Control.

Career Path

There is no doubt that the CPA is hired for the managerial position in the company but the role of CPAs is not as defined as the CMAs. Both CPA and CMA will be working in the company with titles like CFO and controller. But CMAs will always have advantages over CPA when it comes to making tough and complicated management decisions for a small business or corporation. Risk managers and internal auditors are some of the most common financial positions for CMAs.

You will see CPAs working in both government and private firms since their training is very broad. You can also find CPAs working as solo financial practitioners like an auditor. So, you can say that CMAs mostly manage while CPAs provide advice, prepare financial reports for the company and adhere to regulations compliance. So, there is a big difference when it comes to career paths in both CPA and CMA.

Time required

If you are planning to become a CPA then you should get ready to spend at least 8 to 9 years of your life. The first priority of 150 hours of undergraduate credentials falls between graduation and a master degree. But if your state asks for experience before appearing in a CPA exam then you will have to spend another 2 years in order to fulfill the requirement of experience. You should know that the rate of passing an exam on the first attempt is very low in CPA exams and that’s why you will need to spend a lot of time in order to get the CPA credential.

On the other side, it will take you around 9 years to become a CMA. First of all, you will need to have a bachelor's degree that will take around 4 years and then you will need 2 years of work experience but you can complete this requirement while being in college. IMA gives 3 years for passing the examination of CMA and just like CPA, CMA has also a very low passing rate. Different people get their CMA credential in different time periods since it depends on you whether you want to go for CMA just after your graduation or you are going to pursue a master degree as well.


There is no doubt in the fact that, in mostcases, CPAs get a bit higher salary in comparison to CMA but the salary mainly depends on your job role, your experience and how well your perform. You should know that the average salary of a CMA is around $56,590 while the average salary of a CPA is around $62,123. But both the CPA and CMA have ample growth opportunities and the salary mainly depends on your ability and skill set.

If you will get a CPA or CMA degree then you will start earning $10,000 more than what you earned as a normal accountant. This is why getting these prestigious credentials at the right time is very necessary if you are looking forward to boost your career and increase your salary. Both CPA and CMA are good career choice and you can choose the best one according to your needs.

Highness Cloud

Social Links