Becoming a Certified Management Accountant has been a game-changer for me. It allowed me to start my own business and pursue other ventures as well, and in turn, I’ve never questioned the CMA exam cost.
I’ll admit, the freedom it has allowed me has benefited me enough.
But what is the true cost of becoming a CMA? Is CMA worth it (financially and time-wise) for YOU?
Originally published Aug. 4, 2020, this article has been updated and republished Dec. 22, 2020.
Financial Investment in Getting a CMA Certification
Several factors play into the CMA certification cost. In the following section, I will be breaking down everything from the CMA exam cost to membership fees, your undergraduate degree, and everything else in between.
CMA Exam Cost
The total CMA exam cost is usually around $1,080, or $872 for students. This includes $415 to take Part One, $415 for Part Two, and a $250 entrance fee. If you are currently a student, and have taken at least six credit hours in the past semester, the price for each part drops to $311.CMA Exam Cost Breakdown
|Fee Type||Fee Amount||Fee Amount for Students|
|Registration Fee for CMA Exam Part 1||$415||$311|
|Registration Fee for CMA Exam Part 2||$415||$311|
There are two parts to the CMA exam, and you’ll take the exam on one of several designated annual CMA exam dates. Both sections are challenging, and CMA exam questions aren’t easy to answer without a lot of study beforehand. This isn’t something where you’ll want to just walk in and take the CMA certification test without preparing first.`
When you factor in study materials and CMA review courses, costs can be closer to $2,000.
The student/academic fee does not apply to graduates, even if you just recently graduated.
In addition to paying for each part, entrants have to pay a one time non-refundable CMA entrance fee. The price varies based on whether or not you are a professional member or student.
The student/academic entrance fee is $188, while the professional member fee is $250.
It is important to note that the CMA entrance fee does NOT include the cost of your IMA membership, which is another requirement — more on that in a minute, though!
Cost of CMA Study Materials
Before you even think about taking the exam, you will want to study your butt off. Which means an additional CMA certification cost will be your study materials.
There are so many different types of CMA review courses to choose, all of which will help you figure out how to study for the CMA exam effectively. There are in-room courses, textbooks, online courses (like the CMA Exam Academy) and self-study programs. Choosing the right one for you will depend heavily on your learning style.
The cost of CMA prep courses varies widely depending on your method.
The most common CMA study materials are review courses like CMA Exam Academy, Wiley CMAexcel, Gleim CMA Review, and Hock.
The cost per review can be anywhere between $699 to $1795 USD.
If you decide to self-study, textbooks and online cram courses can be as affordable as $59 a pop, but they do not offer the same quality of teaching experience.
Check out a full breakdown of my Top 5 Review CMA review courses.
IMA Membership Fees
Another CMA exam cost is your Institute of Management Accountaints (IMA) membership, which is an annual fee you are required to pay. There are different types of membership, and the fees vary from $39-245.
Here’s a breakdown based on membership type:
- Professional – $245*
- Student – $39
- Academic – $135*
*Heads up — there is a one time $15 application fee for Professional and Academic IMA memberships. They waive this fee for students.
Obtaining Your Undergraduate Degree
When most people talk about the CMA exam cost, they forget to mention one crucial factor — the cost of getting your undergraduate degree.
One of the principle CMA requirements is earning your Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college.
According to an article by the College Board, the average cost of obtaining a public 4-year degree for the 2017/2018 academic year in the United States is as follows:
- Public In-State – $9,970
- Public Out-of-State – $25,620
- Private Nonprofit – $34,740
If you take into consideration that this is a per-year cost, after four years, you will have spent at best $39,880 (not including books, room, and board, etc.). Of course, depending on whether or not you choose in or out of state, public or private, you can be paying upwards of $ $138,000 to earn your four year Bachelor’s degree.
CMA Exam Retake Fees
Statistics don’t lie, and unfortunately, a large number of candidates do not pass the CMA exam. Sadly, the pass rates are a meager 35% and 50% for Part One and Part Two respectively.
So what happens if you fail, and how much will it cost you to retake the exam?
For starters, I highly recommend staying positive and pivoting your energy towards identifying your weaknesses to focus your studying better.
One of the best things you can do to help yourself is to prepare for the worst. After sitting for the exam, write down a list of topics/questions that you found difficult. If you end up failing the exam, these can be a great starting point for re-focusing your study efforts.
Now let’s talk about financials.
There are no discounts for retaking a CMA part, so all retakes cost the same exam registration fee: $415 for professionals, $311 for students or academic members.
You can sit for the exam as many times as you need in three years, but you can only take the exam once per testing window.
The one upside is you do not have to pay the CMA entrance fee again; just the registration fee each time you take it.
Time Investment in Becoming a CMA
Another CMA certification cost (and I don’t mean this financially) is the time you will invest in becoming a CMA.
A prerequisite is earning a 3 or 4 year Bachelor’s degree, but on top of this, you will need to prepare, study, and take the actual CMA exam.
If you are dedicated and efficient, you can do the latter in as little as 12 months. To adequately prepare yourself for each part of the CMA exam, I highly recommend investing at least 150 hours per part.
Of course, this is over 3 to 4 months, but it is incredibly essential, especially if you want to pass the CMA exam on the first try.
Overall, the cost of becoming a CMA can be as low as $1548 (excluding the cost of earning your degree).
The Opportunity Costs of Not Getting Your CMA Certification
By far, one of the most significant benefits of earning your CMA certification is your opportunity potential.
Opportunity to have an exciting career and opportunity to earn a sizable salary.
When you add CMA to your resume, so many doors open up. Some of the most common career paths for CMAs include Management Accounting, Corporate Controller, Financial Analyst, and with enough years of experience, Chief Financial Officer (CFO). You can even start your own Virtual CFO agency.
Certified management accountant salary potential is just as exciting as all the career potential too. CMAs in America make the highest median total compensation of all regions, bring in $115,000 annually.
Compared to their CPA or non-certified peers, CMAs earn 31% more median total compensation. When it comes to salary potential, there’s a noticeable difference between CPA and CMA.
Check out the particulars in the below chart from the 2019 IMA Salary Survey:
Why it Pays to Become a CMA
Let me be clear; I’m not trying to scare you away from the CMA with all these numbers, which is why I want to dive into why it pays to add this certification to your career planning.
For starters, the CMA designation will help you stand out in the industry. Your specialized skill set will make you an asset to large companies who need candidates with a strong understanding of planning and analysis.
Another reason it pays to become a CMA (and this point is literal!) is that CMA’s earn higher salaries than their CPA counterparts. Studies have shown that when you enjoy a 10+ year career, you can make thousands of dollars more than a CPA.
Finally, the CMA certification cost will be well worth it when you realize how high in demand we are. Companies are desperate for the knowledge and skills offered by CMA’s. We are in low supply, so if you’re looking to boost your career now’s the time!
So if you ever had any doubts about working towards your CMA designation I hope this information helps.
I, personally, feel like the CMA has been a game-changer for my career and believe it can be for you as well!
Interested in learning how to become a CMA and turn your dreams into a reality?
Learn how CMA Exam Academy’s CMA review course can help you further your earning potential and begin a fulfilling career in finance and accounting!
Until next time,