Management Accounting Certifications

Management Accounting Certifications

There are so many management accounting certifications out there that it can get a bit confusing. In order to help clear the air, I’m going to break down four of the leading management accountant certifications across the globe.

IMA – United States

In the United States, the CMA designation is overseen by the IMA, Institute of Management Accountants. At present there are over 70,000 members, which is made up of a combination of  certification holders, as well as candidates.

As you may know, to become a CMA in the United Sates, you are required to pass a two-part exam. In addition to passing the exam, candidates are also required to acquire two years of relevant work experience.

The IMA is aligned with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) allowing ACCA members to qualify for the CMA exam automatically.

In addition to this partnership, the United States CMA has a mutual recognition agreement with the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI). Those who do the CMA program outside of India are eligible to apply for ICAI membership.

The United States CMA is rising very rapidly and has become the designation more employers expect their management accountants to have.

CMA – Canada

CMA Canada was the professional body of management accountants up until 2013, when it merged with 2 other associations to become the new designation, CPA Canada. Together, these associations have somewhere around 125,000 members, plus approximately 20,000 candidates and registered students.

Exam requirements for the new Certified Professional Accountant certification will be finalized as of Fall 2015, but traditionally the qualifications and requirements have been designed to benefit only those who live and work in Canada.

In other words, if you are looking for a global designation, this is not the route you want to go down.

CIMA – United Kingdom

Founded in 1919, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is one of the most popular certifications.

With over 218,000 members and students from 177 countries, the largest management accounting association across the globe.

The criteria to become a CIMA member includes passing the 15 qualifying exams, getting a minimum of 3 years of qualified experience and finally, receiving endorsement from a supervisor.

It may sound like 15 exams is a lot, but you may be exempted from some depending on your education level.

The CIMA has a wide variety of agreements and partnerships with other designations including the ICAI.

Just a few years ago the CIMA came together with the AICPA to create a global designation known as the CGMA – Chartered Global Management Accountant. You can learn more about the CGMA and how it stacks up against the CMA here.

ICMA – Australia

The Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA) grants the CMA title in Australia and is relatively new compared to the others. Established in 1996 they have accumulated 2500 members.

Though not formally linked with any other professional bodies, there are exemptions to the Australian exams if you obtained your CA or CPA in another country.

So which designation should you go for?

The choice is yours, but depending on where you intend on practicing, your two best designation options are the IMA or CIMA.

The CIMA is well recognized across the world and has several connections with other designations, which some may find appealing.

On the other hand, the IMA has a strong holding in the U.S., Asia and the Middle East and only requires 2 exams versus the 15 of the CIMA.

If you intend on working in the U.S., Middle East or Asia then the IMA is likely best for you. If you plan on working in one of the many commonwealth countries in Europe then your best bet is the CIMA.

Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion surrounding these multiple certifications.

Now tell me – which certification will you be working towards? Share in the comment section.

Nathan Liao

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!

One Comment on “Management Accounting Certifications”

  1. Hi nathan, thanks for that info. I am gearing up for CIMA USA and planning to either go for CPA australia or ICMA australia? What exemptions do i get if i crack my CMA USA in ICMA Australian exams? Kindly clarify..I will be heading to australia soon so kindly clarify the confusion.

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