CMA Experience Requirements: Determine Your Eligibility

Becoming a CMA requires some first, crucial steps. One, you have to pass the CMA exam. But even after you’ve put in the time and sailed through this challenging test, there are more CMA requirements to meet, including CMA education requirements and CMA experience requirements.

It’s important that you know what you need to do and when, following the right steps to become a CMA. Otherwise, you could miss an opportunity to progress and lengthen your journey to getting certified.

This article will detail the CMA experience requirements you need to obtain a CMA certificate. Read on to find out if your past or current positions will meet the criteria, so you can make the right career moves to ensure your eligibility.

Originally published in March 2020, this article was updated and republished on Dec. 14, 2020.

CMA Work Experience Requirement

To become a Certified Management Accountant, you need at least two years of full-time work experience. The work has to include management accounting or financial management.

While you need to work continuously, you may be able to fulfill this requirement with part-time work. However, it will take twice as long.

3 Tips to Determine if You Meet the CMA Experience Requirements

Tips to determine if you meet the CMA Experience Requirement

If you want to become a CMA and you are questioning the eligibility of your current work experience, here are a few factors to consider.

1. Is Your Work Experience Relevant?

Firstly, it may be helpful to review what the actual CMA Candidate Handbook deems to be appropriate work experience. The handbook states:

Qualifying experience consists of positions requiring judgments regularly made, employing the principles of management accounting and financial management.

Such employment includes:

  • Preparation of financial statements
  • Financial planning and analysis
  • Monthly, quarterly and year-end close
  • Auditing (external or internal)
  • Budget preparation and reporting
  • Manage general ledger and balance sheets
  • Forecasting
  • Company investment decision making
  • Costing analysis
  • Risk evaluation

Chances are, you’re reading that and still thinking the definition is pretty broad. Well, that’s because it is.

The truth is, as long as your work is in the capacity of an internal or external audit or financial analysis within a corporation, handling financial statements and how they affect the company, or analyzing and reporting on financial investments for a company, then your work can be considered eligible.

2. Does Your Experience Include Analysis?

A critical aspect of consideration for CMA experience is whether or not you are analyzing data.

If you are simply inputting data or preparing journal entries, but not actually analyzing or considering any of the data, then your experience will likely not be considered.

Additionally, if you are not in any sort of accounting or financial field, but rather in an area like HR, marketing or sales, then this will not be considered eligible either.

CMA experience requirements can be fulfilled prior to sitting for the CMA exam or within 7 years of completing the exam.

3. Are You a Permanent Employee?

Though internships and trainee programs are a great way to gain valuable experience, they are not considered the same as being a permanent hire in the eyes of the IMA.

You must be considered a permanent employee for two consecutive years for your experience to count.

There is one caveat here though – your two years can be made up of part-time work as long as you clock a minimum of 20 hours per week for 4 consecutive years. Two years of part-time work is considered the equivalent of one year full time.

Some of you may be thinking to yourself, “But Nathan, I have a decade of financial experience running my own business.”

Well, good news! The IMA does take special cases into consideration. In these cases, you must submit a proposal containing your job description, showing how your experience qualifies.

Getting the IMA Approval for the CMA Experience Requirements

Getting IMA Approval for CMA Experience

CMA experience requirements can be fulfilled prior to sitting for the CMA exam or within 7 years of completing the exam, as I mentioned earlier.

If you have any more questions regarding your work experience, I would encourage you to reach out to the IMA. They have a CMA Experience Requirement Form on their official website and you can email it to them at ima[@]imanet.org.

Make Sure You Fit the Requirements

While the CMA work requirements are necessary, there are some special case allowances. You can reach out to the above contact info to learn whether your situation merits a manual review or lenience.

For example, teaching may qualify as professional experience, as long as it is full-time and 60% of the course content relates to accounting or finance.

As mentioned before, part-time positions may qualify, as long as the complete hours are fulfilled. Clerical positions, internship positions, and nontechnical jobs won’t suffice.

Submit Proof of Fulfilled CMA Experience Requirements
Before you even begin, you should verify that the CMA experience you’re gaining ticks the right boxes. Then, when the time comes that you’ve completed the right number of hours, you will submit proof.

You can fill out the online form and either email it to ccurtin@imanet.org or mail it to the address below:

Institute of Certified Management Accountants
10 Paragon Drive Suite 1 Montvale, NJ 07645-1759

If you want to get someone on the phone to ask questions about your experience requirements, you can call 1-800-638-4427.

IMA CPE

Once you become a CMA, your work is not yet complete. In order to maintain your CMA certificate, you’ll have to log continuing professional education (or CPE) hours. The continuing education requirements to maintain CMA certification are 30 hours of CPE per year.

Details on the breakdown of required CPE hours include:

  • Two hours of continuing education must be in ethics.
  • An excess of the required two hours of ethics can be carried over to the next year.
  • All IMA-sponsored programs count toward credit hours.
  • Other program options can be college courses, technical meetings, workshops, seminars, etc.
  • Instruction can be digital but must meet NASBA requirements.

Can I Take the CMA Exam Without Experience?

Can I take the CMA Exam without experience?

To become a CMA, both the experience and education requirements don’t have to be met before you take the exam. However, most people find that an accounting degree and some finance experience are helpful before attempting the CMA exam.

Taking a CMA review course is recommended, but prior education and experience will give you a baseline of understanding and applying the knowledge required to pass the CMA exam.

While there is flexibility, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be dedicated to your CMA exam studies or in meeting CMA requirements. All of the requirements are set to ensure that CMAs continue to meet the highest standards for accounting and finance professionals.

Have more questions about the CMA exam or CMA experience requirements? Drop a question below and I’ll provide some guidance!

Until next time,

Nathan Signature Pic 2020 284x300

P.S. Did you know that my highly successful online CMA prep course is now open for enrollment?

Click here to learn more about how I can coach you until you become a CMA.

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55 Comments on “CMA Experience Requirements: Determine Your Eligibility”

  1. Nathan,
    If i graduate commerce this year and work for a year will i be able to apply for the CMA? Or do i need 2 years of work experience before i can apply for the CMA? I saw in another comment your work experience is valid if it’s within 7 years of completing the CMA?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Jenna,

      You can take the exam before that. To earn your certification, you can fulfill your education and work experience requirements either before the exam or within 7 years after passing the exam.

      The IMA also offers discounts on exam fees to college/university students who pursue the CMA. You can read more on that here.

  2. Hi Nathan! I’m an entry-level job seeker and I need to fulfill my work experience by 2023. Will a project based accountant position with a contract of 1 year, be applied as a relevant work experience?

    1. Hi Clarie,

      One year of work experience will not suffice, unfortunately.

      In order to qualify, you will only need to have 2 continuous years of full-time work experience and for your tasks to involve internal or external auditing or analysis, handling financial statements and understanding how they affect a company, and be responsible for analyzing and reporting on financial investments.

  3. Hi Nathan,
    I’m currently working as a Management Accountant for over 5 years now. I intend to take a break from work and pursue CMA. But, I was wondering if I can have my experience verified by my current employers before I leave. Is that acceptable?

    1. Hi Anupama,

      Yes, you can have your work experience reviewed even before taking the exam.

      For that, you’ll need to enroll in the CMA entrance program and then submit your experience requirement verification form to IMA for approval.

      But keep in mind that once you’ve entered the IMA CMA program, you must pass both parts of the CMA exam within 3 years of joining the program.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

    2. Hai Nathan
      I am working as a financial analyst.
      And I have worked in uk personal tax team and ixbrl team.
      Will that be considered for the work experience?

      1. Hi Kavya,

        Yes, your work experience most likely qualifies for the CMA. But I recommend double-checking with the IMA to confirm.

        Thanks.
        Nathan

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  5. Hii I am Faisal

    I have 2.5 years of accounting work experience in an University, Now I am Planning to go for CMA do i want to go for articleship

      1. Hello Nathan,

        I have been working in the accounting field for 8 years. How do i know i have qualified experience for the CMA. Does IMA call my previous employers and ask certain questions or for job descriptions? Just wondering because I have held the title of Cost Accountant and Accounting Supervisor but I am unsure if I would meet the requirements. My goal is to study and pass the exam sometime during 2021.

        Thank you

        1. Hi Alonso,

          Your experience as a Cost Accountant and Accounting Supervisor will most likely qualify, but I’d encourage you to email the IMA just to double-check.

          Once you’ve submitted your Confirmation of CMA Experience Requirement form to the IMA, they may contact the employers you listed in the form to verify that the job titles and descriptions you offered are accurate.

          But if it turns out that you don’t meet the experience requirement yet, that’s okay – you can still fulfill it within 7 years after passing your CMA exam.

          If you’d like to study with me for your CMA exam, you can check out my coaching course here. I’d love the opportunity to help you coach you to exam success 🙂

          Thanks,
          Nathan

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  7. Hi Nathan ,
    I have 3 years of experience as a tax consultant . will it be considered as a relevant experience for CMA?

    1. Hi Andy,

      Please reach out directly to IMA to check if your experience qualifies for the CMA certification. They have the last say in that.

      Good luck!

  8. Hi Nathan.

    I have 5 years of work experience in Capital Markets ( Trade Processing ) and looking to do CMA US so could you please tell me if this experience will be considered for CMA requirement

    Thanks,
    Aseef

    1. Hi Aseef,

      I recommend you to check directly with IMA, for they have the last say in that.

      But either way, you can still prepare for and take the CMA exam now.

      You can submit the experience requirement to IMA within 7 years after passing the exam.

  9. I am commerce graduate and do not have any experience but i want to do cma can I enroll to CMA without gaining any experience?

    1. Yes you can Vaishali. You’ll just have to make sure you can obtain the work experience within the first 7 years of passing the exam. Otherwise, you’ll have to take the exams again. Thanks, Nathan

  10. Hi Nathan – I am considering taking this CMA journey with you. I am a self- employed accountant with over nine years of experience handling financial statements and have had a CFO type of relationship with many of my small business clients. Do you think my experience will be acceptable for the CMA?

    1. Hi Alexander, your work experience is definitely eligible for the CMA designation. I look forward to coaching you to exam success! Thanks, Nathan

  11. Hi nathan,
    i have completed my CMA exams and yet to fulfill my experience requirement. my query is ‘what happens if i am unable to fulfill my experience requirement within 7 years of passing my exams’ ?

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    1. Hi Matt,

      Not necessarily, you can work for multiple employers, too. And consecutive years of experience, though preferred, may not be required as experience is evaluated on a case by case basis.

      Cheers!

  13. I am currently on my first job and planning to resign on my 10th month to do a full time review for the CMA. Would a two-month gap between my employment disqualify my first job for the “2 years continuous professional experience”?

    1. Hi Liz,

      It’s best to check that directly with IMA for they have the last say in that.

      Good luck!

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  15. I just started working as a Financial Analyst and have a Bachelor’s degree. If I take and pass the exam, say in one year, would I be recognized as a CMA after I complete the 2 years of work experience?

    1. Hi Reb,

      It’s best to reach out directly to IMA (ima@imanet.org) about your eligibility, for they have the last say in that.

      If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out.

  16. Hai nathan,
    I am ummer from india.can i have the option to send educational and experience documents via email, instead of postal.

    1. Hi Ummer,

      Please, contact IMA directly regarding this. Depending on your circumstances they may make an exception for you.

      Cheers.

  17. I have a bachelors degree in accounting and am single again, reentering the workforce after 13 years. I would like to know is there any accounting professional certifications I can earn without having a masters degree/additional accounting hours

    1. Yes, the CMA certification is one of them – to meet the education requirement you only need to hold a bachelor’s degree.

      Click here to learn more about this certification.

      Best wishes!

  18. Hi…Nathan…I am Sahil from India..I am a commerce graduate and working in operation department of a manufacturing company from past 3 years..do i need to go for professional registration or student registration?

    1. Hi Sahil,

      The student membership is only available for students who are taking 6 or more credit hours per semester. If that is not your case, then the professional membership is probably the right one for you.

      Cheers

  19. Hi Nathan
    I am planning for CMA course. I do not have any work experience. After clearing my CMA exam( both levels) can I get the job on the basis of this?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Anuj,

      Even if you cannot meet the experience requirement yet to get certified as a CMA, by passing both exams you can demonstrate that you have the skills and knowledge to distinguish you from your non-certified peers, which will help you find a good job and subsequently fast-track your career.

      Cheers!

  20. Hi…Nathan…Very much informative content..But still i have some more ambiguty regarding this requirement.i want to know…Do i need to have 2 years of professional experince to pursue CMA if i already have MBA finance degree…Please reply me

    1. Hi Azeez,

      Yes, you’ll need to gain 2 years of relevant professional experience despite your degree. There are 2 requirements that you need to meet in order to become certified: the education requirement AND the experience requirement.

      However, you can also fulfill them within 7 years of passing the exams.

    1. Hi Nivedhitha,

      You may fulfill your CMA experience requirement after passing the CMA exam within seven years.

      According to the CMA Handbook,

      “Candidates for the CMA Certification must complete two continuous years of professional experience in management accounting and/or financial management. This requirement may be completed prior to or within seven years of passing the examination. Academics can meet this requirement if at least 60% of their course load is in accounting and corporate financial management courses above the principles level. Professional experience is expected to be gained in full-time employment. However, continuous part-time positions of 20 hours per week meeting the definition of qualified experience will count toward this requirement at a rate of one year of experience for every two years of part-time employment.

      Qualifying experience consists of positions requiring judgments regularly made employing the principles of management accounting and financial management.
      Such employment includes:
      • Preparation of financial statements
      • Financial planning & analysis
      • Monthly, quarterly, and year end close
      • Auditing (external or internal)
      • Budget preparation & reporting
      • Manage general ledger and balance sheets
      • Forecasting
      • Company investment decision making
      • Costing analysis
      • Risk evaluation

      Employment requiring the occasional application of management accounting principles such as in computer operations, sales and marketing, manufacturing,
      engineering, personnel, and general management will not satisfy this requirement. Internships and trainee, clerical, or non-technical positions do not provide appropriate experience to fulfill this requirement.”

      For complete details about the CMA exam, you may check the link below:

      http://www.imanet.org/docs/default-source/cma-lib/cma_handbook_2016.pdf?sfvrsn=8

      Thanks and Regards,
      Nathan

  21. Hi Nathan,

    Your blog helped me a lot for selecting CMA studies. I already registered for the course and want to confirm that my work experience is sufficient to get CMA charter. My present work designation is Senior Manager (Middle management level) since last 4 years. (3 years as Branch Head and now since last 1 year as Forex back office head). will tat experience be relevant?

  22. Nathan , I recently subscribed for your online webinar. But I couldn’t watch it. I wanted to watch it. Send me its url address. I am very much looking forward to enroll for cma part 2 Lite Course .

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