CMA Careers: Your Guide to High-Paying CMA Roles

cma-careers

So here’s the deal on CMA careers. You’re a new member of the IMA, have passed the CMA exam, fulfilled all of your CMA certification requirements, and now officially a Certified Management Accountant.

You’ve buffed up your CMA resume and are eager to get networking to land your first post-CMA designated job.

But you’re stuck.

Stuck because you don’t really know what kind of certified management accounting careers are out there.

Sure you see job titles like Chief Financial Officer or Corporate Controller, but does that qualify you? Is this what is considered a CMA career?

Well wonder no more, because I am diving into all the CMA careers you will be able to explore now that you’ve earned your CMA certification.

Understanding Your New CMA Skillset

understanding-your-cma-skillset

CMA careers are highly diversified and as such, open the doors to so many new and exciting job opportunities after CMA certification.

What does a CMA do, exactly?

The role of Certified Management Accountants is to utilize their decision-making, planning, and performance management skills to provide expert advice and reporting. From there, they work to create and implement a financial strategy that will benefit their organization.

These strategic roles are a major difference between CPA and CMA careers and job positions.

There are six pillars of knowledge that you acquire on your journey to become a CMA that guides you toward your new CMA career. You may have seen these highlighted by the IMA, but if not, here they are:

  • Strategy, Planning, and Performance: The ability to guide decisions, manage risk, and monitor performance.
  • Reporting and Control: Being able to measure your organization’s performance against standards and regulations and report on your findings.
  • Technology and Analytics: Knowing how to enhance organizational success by using relevant technology and analyzing data.
  • Business Acumen and Operations: Functioning across many arenas to improve company-wide operations.
  • Leadership: Stepping up and into a role that inspires and guides your team to achieve the goals of your organization.
  • Professional Ethics and Values: Working with integrity, ethics, and legal compliance and demonstrating a professional attitude at all times.

CMA Career Paths

cma-designation-job-opportunities

Is CMA a good career? In most cases, yes. Becoming a CMA can provide you with solid six-figure earning power, a career with plenty of room for growth and advancement, and excellent job security thanks to a unique skillset that’s hard to come by.

So you finally got your CMA results back, and you passed the exam. Congratulations!

Now that you’re certified, hunting for a job may not be as easy as reading “Hiring Certified Management Accountant – please apply!”

You need to know what job titles to look for and from there, decide if their job duties are in line with how you picture advancing your CMA career.

Here are a few of the most common career paths after CMA that you can apply for:

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Management Accountant

Do you thrive off planning and strategizing? Then Management accounting could be the path for you.

Most CMA careers require your ability to plan and strategize, but as a management accountant specifically, you will be expected to budget, plan and strategize so that your company’s top managers and executives will be able to make risk-assessed decisions about their financial future.

While you must be an expert when it comes to accounting, you must also possess the skill that allows you to communicate this data in a way that is understandable for non-experts. High-level communication skills are a must!

You can find management accountants in private or public businesses, or within government agencies.

Financial Analyst

If you enjoy studying market trends and the microeconomic aspects of finances, then becoming a financial analyst may be right for you.

This role requires careful attention to detail so the analyst can assess the financial condition of a potential investment to make sure it is worthwhile.

Some other typical job duties for a financial analyst include advising businesses on how to issue corporate bonds or split stock, as well as perform financial research and analysis to provide information on the business’s profitability, stability, liquidity, and solvency.

As a financial analyst, you can work anywhere from a bank or an insurance company to a startup or global enterprise.

Cost Accountant

Cost accountants are responsible for recording and analyzing each cost incurred by a business. In turn, they use this information to identify where the company is losing money unnecessarily and how to improve their financial management.

Some of the everyday job duties of a cost accountant include preparing asset, liability, and capital account entries, documenting financial transactions, making financial recommendations based on the analysis of financial history.

As you can imagine, this role could be highly beneficial in several business models, so, unsurprisingly, cost accountants can be found working with retail sectors, consulting firms, or directly within a business or corporation.

Accounting Manager

Accounting Managers develop and maintain accounting systems and procedures used by other accountants to collect and analyze data.

Typical job duties would include overseeing daily operations, monitoring and analyzing data, creating financial statements and reports, as well as upholding strict accounting policies and principles.

Accounting managers oversee other accountants and are typically found working for large companies or organizations where there are multiple accountants employed.

Staff & Senior Accountant

Senior accountants are more managerial than junior or staff accountants and do not typically perform administrative tasks. Instead, they are responsible for reporting cost margins, productivity, and expenditures within a company.

Some common tasks include preparing month-end procedures, reconciling accountant balances, and maintaining a general ledger. In addition to this, senior accountants are expected to mentor junior staff, as well as lead accounting initiatives with other accounting teams and departments

As you can imagine, to become a Senior Accountant you must have not only expert management accounting skills, but also have years of experience, great communication skills, and strong leadership skills.

Corporate Controller

A corporate controller is someone who oversees a company’s financial and accounting functions. This includes everything from billing, accounts payable, accounts receivable and budgeting, to name a few.

In fact, when I first began working on my own business, I was working full time as a Corporate Controller and working nights and weekends to turn this dream into a reality!

Common job duties include preparing the annual budget, preparing internal and external financial statements, assessing current accounting operations, as well as coordinating activities for external auditors.

Corporate controllers often oversee other accountants, so the skills and knowledge learned from earning your CMA is invaluable.

While the expertise of a controller can be utilized in any business, it is larger companies and organizations that tend to attract this position more.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

What is a CFO? It’s one of the top positions you can rise to in business, and is often considered a CEO’s right-hand.

CFO’s oversee everything from financial reporting and forecasting to a company’s investments and financial business decisions.

Some of the most critical job duties performed by a CFO include tracking cash flow, analyzing their financial strengths and weaknesses, and proposing corrective actions.

It often takes years of experience to develop the unique skills required to become a Chief Financial Officer, but earning your CMA is absolutely the fast track.

CMA Careers and Opportunities by Industry

cma-careers-by-industry

As I mentioned above, there are many CMA career paths – from working with a multinational corporation or government agency to private business or academic institutions.

But what industries tend to draw in CMAs the most?

It turns out that more than 30% of CMAs work inΒ  Manufacturing, but the remaining 70% work in a variety of industries:

  • 7% – Wholesale and Retail Trade
  • 8% – Education
  • 3% – Transportation, Communications and Utility Services
  • 3% – Contract Construction
  • 2% – Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
  • 3% – Government
  • 8% – Medical/Health Services
  • 4% – Information Technology
  • 9% – Finance, Insurance and Real Estate
  • 7% – Other Services
  • 3% – Public Accounting
  • 12% – Nonclassifiable

Source: 2019 IMA US Salary Survey

According to the 2019 IMA Salary Survey, CMAs are big earners. If your potential certified management accountant salary is influencing which industry to work towards, then have a look at the below chart:

median-salary-by-industry

Source: IMAnet.org

There are so many job opportunities for CMAs to choose from, which makes choosing a career exciting.

Whether you are hell-bent on becoming the CFO of a major corporation, or diving into the nitty-gritty as a Cost Accountant, the opportunities are abundant. If you’re still working on your certification, here are some strategies to help you pass the CMA on your first try.

Tell me, which of these CMA careers sounds most like your dream job? Drop me a line in the comment section below!

Nathan-Liao

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36 Comments on “CMA Careers: Your Guide to High-Paying CMA Roles”

  1. Hello, I am the CEO of a Joint Venture. I felt that finance is my weakness. My goal is to make better decisions in my current position. Also, when I have start ups in the future, I was hoping I can make better decisions. Would CMA suit me?

    1. Absolutely, Elaine. Sounds like the CMA designation would be a fantastic fit for you.

      You can learn more about the value of CMA and the roadmap to earning the certification at this link.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

  2. Hi Nathan

    How strongly would you recommend the CMA over the CPA for someone pursuing a career in FP&A? The traditional way to break into FP&A has been through Big 4 accounting, but I’d like to avoid that route and just cut right to the chase.

    1. Hi Mchelle,

      Financial Planning & Analysis is at the core of the CMA designation. CMAs are trained for this and other areas of business through its rigorous examination.

    1. Hi Sangita, the CMA would help tremendously if you want to stay competitive in the management accounting field and continue advancing your career.

  3. Hey
    I am now a 11th std Commerce student aspiring to become a Financial Controller in US. So I googled about how to become a controller and what I got to know from some sites is that I should go for CPA and some others says I can become a Controller with a CMA USA certificatation. So can you exactly tell me which certification I need to become a financial Controller? Can I become a Controller with a CMA USA certification?

    1. Hi Diya,

      Absolutely. The CMA would be the fast-track to a Controller position.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

  4. Hello sir,
    I read your blog, and I found it very interesting but I have some doubts. I passed my 10+2 this year and decided to complete my graduation and course together so I gave the foundation exam of CMA. So after graduation what kind of job should I opt for as I have no experience?
    I thought of going in the banking field before because I had no knowledge of these job opportunities but now that I read your blog it seems like there are more to this course.

    1. Hi Muskan,

      Are you pursuing the US CMA? I ask because there is no foundation level in the US CMA exam.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

  5. Dear Nathan,
    I wish to be a managment consultant at one of the big three consultancy firms. Is CMA a relevant qualification? I have a BCom(hons) in finance and am going to write part 2 exam in june of next year.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Rahul,

      Yes, the CMA will give you the knowledge and skill set necessary to make financial decisions for a company.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

  6. One question I did have is whether or not a CMA is able to prepare financial statements in the same way a CPA would?

      1. Hello Sir,

        I’m now a 12th student pursuing to become a Chief Financial Officer. When I googled it I got to know that the two certifications – ACCA and CMA will help you to become a CFO. I’m very much confused about which certification to choose. ACCA or CMA? Which certification will help me to become a CFO faster? Can u help me out Nathan?

        1. Hi Rolin,

          For a management accounting role like the CFO, the CMA would fit you best.

          Thanks,
          Nathan

  7. Hi Nathan,

    Huge fan of what you do! I’m considering joining the CMA exam academy. However just wanted to check if a CMA certification will help me land a job in a venture capital Industry?

    Thanks in Advance!
    Alen.

    1. Hi Alen,

      That’s so great to hear! Thank you. I’d love the opportunity to coach you to exam success πŸ™‚

      The CMA would be perfect for that career path. It will equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to land a job in venture capital and excel in the industry.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Thank you,
      Nathan

  8. Hi Nathan,

    Can a Fresh Graduate with a CMA degree get a position in Assurane or is that only for CPA / CA holders?

    The Blogs amazing, many young CMA aspirants read it.

  9. Greetings Sir..
    I hope you are doing well

    I want to know that, I am working on a bank for last 5 years, is my current job experience can consider for two years work experience after CMA , to get degree of CMA.

    1. Hi Ashish,

      Whether or not your work experience qualifies for the CMA depends on your job title and if you performed tasks that involved internal or external auditing or analysis, handling financial statements, and if you were responsible for analyzing and reporting on financial investments.

      You can read here more about the work experience requirement and how to fulfill it.

      Let me know if you have any questions.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

  10. Sir I’m anusha presently I’m pursuing my degree with CA I additionally applied to CMA from college I’m writing the exam of CA this year from the state of telangana so I need a guidence from you my query is that I want to have a pleasant career with the company of Google so please do suggest me a way to have a good positioned job in Google through the professional course CMA I mean what are all needed to have it

  11. Hello Nathan,

    I’m working as an Assistant Engineer in a Construction and Manufacturing Firm , and I’m planning on applying for the CMA certification as I want to jump from the groundwork to a better office job. Would you be kind enough to tell me if my experience working as an A.E in a construction firm hold any experience when I later apply for a post with my CMA certification?

    1. Hi Donald,

      It’s best to reach out directly to the IMA to verify if your work experience meets the requirement for the CMA certification – they have the last say in that.

      Even if it doesn’t, you can still take the CMA exam and fulfill the experience requirement within 7 years after passing the exam to earn your certification.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

  12. Hi Nathan،

    Thank you for the valuable information.

    I have over 7 years of experience as an accountant and a bachelor’s degree but no official certifications. I am working on my CMA now.

    Do you think it’s a good idea to start now? I honestly never could do it before because of financial reasons.

    1. Hi Iman,

      It’s never too late to earn the CMA and give your career a boost πŸ™‚

      Check out my YouTube video to help you decide whether the CMA certification is worth it for you.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

  13. Dear Nathan,

    I am a senior in Accounting major.

    CMA sounds really attractive.
    Can I still pursue this certificate with my current major?

    1. Hi Gyu,

      Of course you can! Here’s a complete roadmap to becoming a CMA.

      If you have any other questions, just hit reply πŸ™‚

      Thanks,
      Nathan

  14. Hi Nathan,

    I am Shankar from India. You have a nice blog there. It has a lot of information which motivated me to study for the CMA exam.

    I cleared my Part 2 in the month of September 2019 and written my Part 1 on Jan 2020. It would take 30 more days for my result to come. I have no experience yet and am just visiting my sister’s company to have a corporate exposure.

    I don’t know what position I can apply as a person without work experience (I have a BBA in finance) who’s just starting out. I would like to know your ideas?

    1. Hi Shankar,

      I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying my blog. And big congrats on passing Part 1 exam!

      A few positions to apply could be Jr. Accountant, Staff Accountant, or even entry level A/R and A/P to gain some experience.

      But by having the CMA, you won’t stay long in those positions as you’ll be able to move up faster.

      Thanks,
      Nathan

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