CMA vs MBA

Which one is better? A CMA or an MBA?

When pursuing a career as an accountant there are many accreditation and university programs to consider that will help you to advance your career.

Often times people will find themselves deciding between becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or getting a Master of Business Administration – also known as an MBA.

So how do you choose which is best for you?

Narrow Down The Scope

The CMA is an industry recognized professional designation while the MBA is an academic degree. Though both get high praise for being top notch career goals in the finance field, the CMA is focused on management accounting while the MBA covers a much broader scope of finance units.

Average Earning Potential

Salary is an important thing to consider when choosing which career path to go down. According to Payscale.com, the average MBA in accounting and business earned $102,665 in 2015. Those holding an Executive MBA in finance earned on average, $150,000.

As for CMA’s, depending on your position within a company you could earn anywhere between $39,974 to $215,561. It’s clear there is plenty of earning potential with both designations.

Education and Eligibility

Both the CMA and MBA are post-graduate options. The MBA requires an additional one to two years of schooling to complete after receiving a bachelor’s degree, whereas the CMA designation can be earned in six months after preparing and passing the CMA exam.

After spending upwards of four years working on that well deserved bachelor’s degree, two more years can seem like an eternity, especially when you can meet the CMA requirements in a fraction of the time.

Another thing you may want to consider is that being accepted into an MBA program is highly competitive and the school you choose can really influence your future employers impression of you.

There have been so many studies done on MBA programs and their return on investment (ROI). If you plan to work for an investment bank or in securities, an MBA will get your foot in the door. On the other hand, if you plan to work elsewhere, I would recommend the CMA.

Unlike the MBA where employers may judge the university reputation of where you studied, the CMA exam is an industry designated exam it is only issued through one institution. In other words, it is the same across the board so potential employers can not harbour the same bias.

The CMA is also self-taught so candidates can learn and prepare at their own pace using review courses like Wiley, Gleim, Hock, CMA Exam Academy or several others. They can also be working in the industry at the same time which is certainly a win-win situation.

Which Option Will Open More Doors?

Not to discourage anyone who is set on completing their MBA, but if you are an accountant looking to advance your career then the CMA will provide more opportunities. This is because the CMA is geared towards accounting and finance professionals, and due to the fact that it incorporates various business acumen courses.

Additionally, industry professionals say that the CMA designation will immediately improve your career whereas an MBA isn’t likely to open any more doors until 5-10 years down the road.

It also helps that the CMA designation can be earned in a significantly shorter period of time and is also far less expensive.

Ultimately the choice is yours, and my only goal is to help you make an informed decision. Whether you go down the road of becoming a CMA or working towards your MBA, you will be able to look forward to a successful career in the management accounting field.

Speaking of making informed decisions, did you know that where you choose to live and work in the world can affect how accepted your chosen designation is? From the USA to Canada to the UK and Australia, there are different governing bodies that may affect your decision. But don’t fret – we’ll be covering all those bases next time so hang in there!

How to Become a CMA

If you decided to become a CMA, check out this article that’ll walk you step by step.

Looking for More?

I love sharing my weekly emails with you on exam strategies, coaching support and all CMA-related topics for free.

If you enjoy these articles and are looking for even more great resources, here are some links to other posts, projects, and tools that will help you accelerate your path to your CMA designation.

As always, thanks for reading,

Signature

Back to Frequently Asked Questions

Get Your FREE Copy of the
CMA Exam Part-One Textbook

HURRY! Only 1,000 FREE Copies Available

Save over $300 today by claiming your FREE copy of my CMA Part-One test prep textbook in paperback.

Written by CPAs and CMAs in an easy-to-understand format. It covers every single section and topic you'll be tested on your CMA exam.

Just help with shipping and handling charges and the textbook is yours for FREE.

Claim yours while supplies last. Click on “I Want My Free Textbook“ now.

I Want My Free Textbook

21 Comments on “CMA vs MBA”

  1. Dear Nathan,

    I have been through your website CMA Coach and it is very helpful and motivational tool for everybody. I have been preparing for both parts from Gleim 16th edition and unfortunately could not go through any part after attempting 3-4 times. Please help….!

    1. Sandeep,

      Have you considered going for an instructor-led course? If self-studying for 3 to 4 times is not giving you the results you want, perhaps changing your approach will help. What areas are you struggling with the most? Let me know what you think.

  2. Dear Nathan
    I found your page very motivating and helpful.
    I passed part one in 2013 and will sit for part 2 in 2015 due to some work pressure and unforeseen delays.
    i was wondering after passing part 2 based on the new changes do i need to sit again for part one?

    1. Hi Wassim,

      No, you don’t need to sit for Part-One again if you already passed it. Isn’t that great news? 🙂

  3. Dear Nathan ,

    As iam doing my second year of my graduation degree(B.com). It was a very helpful article. Though i wanted to know about that are there any job opportunities for CMA in INDIA.
    And can an Indian appear the exam from India

    1. Hi Srinjoy,

      I’m very glad the article was helpful. The CMA designation is popular in India and there are definitely job opportunities, but I don’t live there so you may have to reach out to a recruiters to get more specifics. The CMA designation is a global credential so you can most definitely appear for the exam in India. There are Prometric testing centers all over the world.

  4. Hi Nathan,

    I was weighing my options whether to have an MBA or CMA. Are there specific requirements in order to take the CMA exam? I am a graduate of Management Accounting in University of Saint La Salle. Is the CMA title accepted here in the Philippines? When I search for job vacancies they always require CPA individuals.

    1. Hi Taha,

      I have written an article addressing this topic. Please check this link for the comparison of these two professional paths.

      Thanks and Regards,
      Nathan

  5. Hi lio,
    I’m preparing my self to go on final exam but unfortunately I’m too depressed when I have heard that the average salary is not high adequate in my country Egypt

  6. Hi nathan

    I am doing b.com 1st year my b.com will be completed next year. Can I do CMA in usa after graduation and how much scope it has in Usa? I am from pakistan and it has 2 year b.com will this be acceptable for cma?

    Regards
    Shan

    1. Hi Abhishek,

      You may take the CMA while studying provided that you are enrolled for at least six credits per semester during the academic year.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

  7. HI. I AM DOING BTECH IN MECHANICAL. RIGHT NOW I AM IN SECOND YEAR , WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON DOING CMA WITH BTECH . WILL I GET A GOOD JOB? OR IS IT BETTER TO DO MBA.

    1. Hi Faize,

      If you want to work in the finance and accounting field, choose the CMA. Otherwise, MBA would be preferable.

      Thanks and Regards,
      Nathan

    1. Hi Sakthivel,

      I would consider the CMA designation. It takes significantly less time to complete the CMA exams, you can study at your own pace, and the CMA certification will also boost your career faster.

      Click here to learn more about the CMA designation.

      Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *