How to Become an Accountant Without an Accounting Degree

Do you like numbers? Are you detail-oriented and think that a career in accounting might be perfect for you? The only problem is you don’t have a related degree.

You, like thousands of others, are interested in moving into an accounting career, but worry that it may be impossible without spending years in school earning an accounting degree. The good news is, there is a way for you to become an accountant without one.

How to become an accountant without an accounting degree, you ask? Let me break it down for you.

Get into Managerial Accounting

The CMA allows candidates with any 3 or 4 year bachelor’s degree to take the exam, among other exam prerequisites. Whether you studied business, psychology or anything else, as long as you graduated from an accredited institution, you are eligible.

Obviously the exam material will be much easier for someone with a finance and accounting background, but if you prepare for the exam properly, you too can pass.

Better yet, taking the CMA exam fast tracks your career because you learn the skills and knowledge that once was only acquired from years of working experience. Now, instead of spending 3, 5, even 10 years of working to learn the ropes of the industry, you can jump ahead by devouring the CMA exam curriculum.

What if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree of any kind?

You’d be surprised how common this is, but more good news — there are exemptions.

The first exemption is available for candidates who are fully qualified ACCA members. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants is an international accountancy qualification that is recognized across the world. The IMA and ACCA have a mutual agreement allowing fully qualified ACCA members to qualify for the exam regardless of whether or not they hold a bachelor’s degree.

To become ACCA qualified you must complete and pass 14 papers in total. There are several papers that offer exemptions based on past educational experience.

To learn more about the ACCA and how to become qualified, visit

The second exemption is stated in the CMA Handbook. Candidates who do not hold a bachelor’s degree can plead their case to the IMA and explain why past educational or work experience, and any other credentials they may have, qualify them. If accepted, the IMA will allow you to take the CMA exam without holding a bachelor’s degree.

Showcase your Related Skills

How else to become an accountant without an accounting degree? On top of earning credentials like the CMA, you will want to highlight any related skills.

Any experience you have with finance or accounting based software, examples of bookkeeping or detail-oriented work, and so on can be valuable when applying to accountant positions. If you have attended any seminars or conferences that were accounting related you will also want to mention these on your resume. This sort of experience can really appeal to potential employers.

Taking Your Career to the Next Level

Accounting and finance is a great industry to go into if you are looking for a stable career. Now, more than ever, is the best time to work towards an accounting certification like the CMA because employers are in desperate need of the skills and knowledge they possess, yet there is a lack of CMAs available to fill these positions.
Thanks to the low barrier of entry for the CMA exam, you can earn your designation with the right study plan and review course. Don’t let  your lack of an accounting degree hold you back from a promising career as a management accountant. For more information on how I can help you go from zero accounting background to becoming a Certified Management Accountant, visit CMA Exam Academy.


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11 Comments on “How to Become an Accountant Without an Accounting Degree”

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. I am an Economics major and also did a Masters in Operational Research. Both of this are outside the USA. Currently I am about to complete MBA Finance in the US and I am waiting for my results for CMA Part 2. As you can see I have zero accounting credits. I wanted to do the CPA after my CMA but for the lack of accounting credits. I was trying to find out if the AICPA accepts the CMA in lieu of the 24 credit hours of accounting. Thank you.

    1. Hi Felix,

      There are IMA CPE credits which is also recognized by NASBA. Log in your IMA account and check this link.

      Thanks and Regards,

  2. I was studied BE. but i have experience in accounts field (2 years). still i have lot of doubts. so how to clear. which book suitable to refer.

  3. Hi this is salil am not able to finish b com degree due to several family reasons but am having experience in same field more than 17 years so is it possible to do CMA ON THAT BASIS

    1. Hi Salil,

      Besides the experience requirement, you also need to meet the education requirement (a bachelor’s degree) in order to qualify for the CMA certification.

      You could try reaching out directly to IMA explaining your situation to check whether they can make an exception for you.

      Best of luck!

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