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Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Requirements

If you’re a finance or accounting professional looking to take your career to new heights, earning the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation may be the next major step for you. However, before you can sit for the CMA exam, it’s crucial to understand the various CMA exam requirements, as well as the registration process. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary information needed to plan the leg next of your career path.

What's a CMA, anyways?

The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation signifies an enhanced expertise in financial accounting, decision support, financial analysis, strategic management, and professional ethics. CMA certification is globally recognized, and obtaining this advanced designation can be rigorous. CMAs are often found working as financial planners, financial analysts, Chief Financial Officers, corporate controllers, and more.

Understand the CMA Requirements

For Americans, the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) certifies CMA designations. First and foremost, you need to satisfy the CMA eligibility requirements, which consist of educational and professional prerequisites:

Educational Requirements: You must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. It’s important to note that the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) recognizes degrees from any field, not limited to accounting or finance.

Experience Requirements: You need to have a minimum of two years of professional experience in management accounting or financial management. This can encompass various roles such as financial analyst, cost accountant, controller, and more.

Remember, you can sit for and pass the CMA exam even if you haven’t fulfilled these requirements yet. However, it is mandatory to complete them within seven years of passing the exam in order to obtain your certification.

Taking the CMA Exam:

Once you’ve determined that you meet the eligibility requirements, the next step is to register for the CMA exam. Here’s a breakdown of the registration process:

Join the IMA: First, you need to become a member of the IMA.

Pay the CMA Entrance Fee: After joining, you’ll need to pay the CMA entrance fee. This fee covers the exam cost and grants you access to certain exam preparation resources.

Register for the Exam: Following the payment of the entrance fee, you can proceed to register for the CMA exam. During this step, you’ll select which part of the exam you wish to take and schedule your exam date and location.

Prepare for the Exam: Utilize the study materials provided by the IMA as well as other relevant sources to adequately prepare for the exam. Remember, you have a three-year window from the time you pay your entrance fee to complete both parts of the exam.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Requirements | Educational Requirements | CMA Exam

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the fees involved in the CMA certification process?

The IMA membership fee ranges from $39 to $245 depending on the type of membership. The CMA entrance fee is $250 for students/professionals and $188 for professionals. Additionally, the exam fee per part is $415 for professionals and $311 for students.

Can I sit for the CMA exam without the professional experience?

Yes, you can sit for the exam without fulfilling the professional experience requirement. However, it’s crucial to fulfill this requirement within seven years of passing the exam in order to obtain your certification.

What if I fail a part of the CMA exam?

If you fail a part of the CMA exam, you have the opportunity to retake it. However, you will be required to pay the exam fee again.

How often can I take the CMA exam?

You can take the CMA exam during three testing windows throughout the year: January-February, May-June, and September-October. You may take one part during each testing window.

How Do You Register for the CMA Exam?

Eligibility Requirements

  • Education Requirements: Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Any field of study is accepted, as long as the institution is accredited.
  • Professional Experience: Have at least two years of continuous experience in management accounting or financial management, which can include positions like financial analyst, budget analyst, cost accountant, and similar roles.

Create an Account on the IMA Website

Visit the official IMA website and create an account, which will grant you access to enroll in the CMA+ program and the registration portal. Provide accurate information and verify your email address.

Choose Your CMA Exam Part CMA Examination

Next, candidates must pass the two-part CMA exam. These rigorous exams test an individual’s expertise in various fields:

CMA Exam Part 1: Covering Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance, and Control.

CMA Exam Part 2: Focusing on Financial Decision Making.

The exams are computer-based and each consists of multiple-choice questions and two essay questions. Achieving a pass is a surefire way of demonstrating proficiency in these areas.

Submit the Registration Fee

Once you’ve selected the exam part(s), submit the registration fee. The fee amount depends on your IMA membership status and the number of exam parts you choose. Payment options for exam fees usually include credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Keep in mind that the registration fee is non-refundable.

Receive Authorization to Schedule (ATS)

After your registration fee is processed, you will receive an Authorization to Schedule (ATS) email from the IMA. This email confirms your eligibility to take the CMA exam and provides you with a unique identification number. It also includes instructions on how to schedule your exam appointment.

Schedule Your Exam

Using the instructions in the ATS email, schedule your exam appointment through Prometric, the IMA’s testing partner. Choose a suitable date, time, and location for your exam. It’s advisable to schedule well in advance to secure your preferred time slot.

Membership in IMA

To maintain your CMA certification, active membership with the IMA is mandatory. The IMA offers various resources for its members, including continuing education opportunities and networking events.

Maintaining CMA Certification

Once certified, CMAs must commit to lifelong learning. This commitment includes fulfilling certification requirements:

Continuing Education: A minimum of 30 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) each year, with at least two hours in the area of ethics.

Active Membership: Maintaining active membership with the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) is mandatory.

The maintenance of the certification proves your dedication to your education requirement staying current in the evolving field of management accounting.


Becoming a Certified Management Accountant is a remarkable achievement that demands dedication, discipline, and a commitment to continuous learning. If you’re an ambitious accounting or finance professional, obtaining the CMA certification can be a significant boost to your career. It showcases your expertise in management accounting and financial planning, adherence to professional ethics, and dedication to upholding the highest industry standards. With the CMA designation, you’ll be well-equipped to advance within your organization or explore exciting new opportunities. Remember, the journey to your professional certification and becoming a CMA is a marathon, not a sprint. However, with persistence, hard work, and the right guidance, you’ll find that the effort is undoubtedly worthwhile. Good luck on your path to becoming a Certified Management Accountant!