To maintain certification as a Certified Management Accountant, the Institute of Management Accountants requires you to keep up your professional education. You have to meet the CMA CPE requirements by logging hours of Continuing Professional Education each year.
CPE credits are enforced and regulated to ensure that Certified Management Accountants are continually educated and up to date in the profession.
It might seem like a lot of extra work, since you’ve already had to pass the CMA exam. What it basically means is that you will remain current on practices and procedures, which is ultimately a good thing for your career.
Fulfilling your CMA CPE requirements is critical and we’ll go over how many hours are needed next.
If you need to get your CMA CPE credits out of the way right now, jump to the end of the page for qualifying online CPE courses.
Originally published in 2018, this article was updated and republished on March 23, 2021.
How Many Hours Will I Need to Fulfill CMA CPE Requirements?
Thirty hours of CMA CPE credits are required each year. Here are the specifics:
- CPE requirements start one calendar year after you become a CMA.
- For CPE CMA credits, a “year” is January 1 to December 31, making that the time frame within which you must log those hours.
- CPE credits for CMA must be within approved topics.
- While thirty hours are required each year, if you exceed that number, you can carry ten hours over into the following calendar year.
Bonus: If you took the CMA recently and are starting to rack up qualifying hours, the IMA will let you count 10 hours of CPE credits for every hour of the CMA exam that you passed.
There are plenty of qualifying course topics to choose from such as accounting, financial management, business applications of mathematics, computer science, economics, management, production, marketing, business law, organization, and more.
Though you have plenty of topics to choose from, you will be required to complete a minimum of two hours in ethics courses.
Acceptable Subjects for CMA CPE Credits
As you get through these thirty required CPE credits for your CMA, it’s important to know that not just anything counts. There are a few IMA-approved subjects that count toward your CMA CPE credits:
- Financial management
- Business applications of mathematics and statistics
- Computer science
- Business law
- Organizational behavior
This list isn’t exhaustive, so it’s a good idea to check on the IMA website or even reach out for support if you’re unsure.
How to Earn CPE Hours
Because you need CPE hours to maintain a CMA certification, it’s important that you have a plan for accomplishing this. After all, you don’t want to be staring down the barrel of 30 hours of approved hours as you close in on the 12 month mark.
Each year, it’s important that you space out your CMA CPE hours. 30 hours is too many to cram in at the last minute.
Here are some of the best avenues through which to gain your credits.
CMA CPE Courses
There are plenty of CMA CPE courses that you can take. Some of these are offered through a college or university, and others are available online, through CMA course providers.
The former are usually taught by accounting professors in a post-secondary accounting department. The latter are usually taught by a CMA or topic expert.
For example, Lambers CPE course library has NASBA-approved online video courses taught by experts in accounting, auditing, management, and even information technology.
Taking a seminar to fulfill CPE requirements is pretty easy and can achieve the dual purpose of networking. Professional seminars for CMAs will have qualified speakers on a range of relevant subjects.
Often, you’ll have a choice of which sessions to attend, so you can prioritize things that best support your work as a CMA.
Webinars and Workshops
Many people are using online CPE for CMA options. These have the benefit of being accessible from anywhere. Webinars and workshops that cover the right study material, and are run by authoritative professionals, can get you the credits you need without even leaving the comfort of home or office.
There are a few non-conventional, additional ways to get your CPE hours. These include:
- Attending or watching speeches or pre-recorded sessions of instruction
- Home study courses
- Technical meetings
- Participating in or being taught about case studies
Of course, anything that doesn’t already have the IMA stamp of approval will require approval to count.
Keeping Track of CMA CPE Hours
There are several different ways you can go about logging your CPE hours. The IMA has allowed for a lot of flexibility in that aspect so you can keep things fresh.
College courses, webinars, workshops, seminars, technical meetings, examinations, take home study courses, speeches, etc. are all different ways in which you can get your hours in.
Registered CMAs must be diligent when it comes to logging their hours. You will be required to keep documents such as records of attendance and certificates to support your progress.
The reason for this is simple, you could be randomly selected to submit your records, as the IMA performs regular audits.
It is highly recommended to keep all documents for at least three years, but just to play it safe. It’s better to start a folder in your filing cabinet and keep them around for up to five years.
Ten CPE credits are awarded for each hour of the exam, so 40 hours for each exam part that you pass. These hours are not applicable CPE hours for your CMA, rather only beneficial to someone with another certification, trying to earn applicable CPE hours.
The CPE requirement does not start until the calendar year after you earn your CMA designation. For example, if you earned your CMA in November of 2020, the CPE requirement would not start until calendar year 2021.
It is always the calendar year after earning the credential.
What Happens When You Don’t Complete Your CPE Hours?
In the event that you are unable or simply do not complete your required thirty CPE hours over the course of the year, you will fall out of good standing with the IMA.
Before you panic, you should know that it is more than possible to get back in their good graces.
You can do this by completing sixty hours of CPE by the end of year two.
Any shortfalls in the year must be made up in the next year; however, if the hours are not made up, your account will become inactive.
Getting Extra Hours Carried Over
If you are a bit of an overachiever and make more than the standard thirty hours of CPE credits, you are allowed to carry a maximum of ten extra hours over to the next year.
For those of you who like to plan ahead, this option is a great way to save you time in the future. Just remember, you can only carry over ten hours.
Continuing education can seem like a never ending cycle of study, but when you look at it as an opportunity to better yourself and your expertise, you will be setting yourself up for a much stronger future.
Which CMA CPE Course Should I Take?
Taking a CMA CPE course is a reliable way to get the credits you need. These courses are tailor-made to address the concepts and practices you use as a CMA. Here are some of your best options for CMA CPE courses:
IMA: CPE Credits
The IMA offers some ways to get CPE credits through their education center. It may be a good place to find a required ethics course or other topical courses.
Lambers CPE Courses
Lambers is an established leader in review courses and professional development for accountants. Although they focus on CPA certification, Lambers CPE courses are relevant for the CMA certification, too. Plus their courses are NASBA approved.
All the courses in Lambers’ CPE course library are accepted by the IMA. They are taught by qualified professionals and offer a simple, engaging way to log your CPE hours. Since they are online, video-based courses, you can take them throughout the year whenever it’s convenient.
Lambers adds new CPE courses each year, and you’ll find plenty of interesting content that you can actually use in your career. They cover a wide range of topics, including current tax strategies, information security, excel mastery, and even management skills.
Sign up at Lambers and get started on your CPE credits today! As a CMA Coach reader, you’ll get special pricing to help you save on CPE CMA course costs.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post them below in the comments section. I reply to every single comment.
Hi, I’m Nathan Liao (aka the CMA Coach)! For the last 10 years, over 82,000 accounting and finance pros came knocking at my door seeking guidance and help. If you’re also aiming to conquer the CMA exam on your very first try—without wasting away time or money—you’ve found your ultimate guide. Dive in deeper to discover more about me and the dedicated team that powers CMA Exam Academy. Click here and let’s embark on this journey together!