Episode 4: CMA vs CPA – What’s in a Name?

Episode 4 - CMA vs CPA
Click Play to Listen to this Episode (11:09)

One of the most common questions I get asked is why I decided to become a CMA vs CPA.

Read Full Transcript of this Episode

Hello CMA Candidates, welcome to a new episode of the Free CMA Exam Mastery Course. Thank you so much for joining me today.

If you haven’t already go to cmaexamacademy.com/guide to download your free copy of my book The Ultimate Guide to the CMA Exam. It sells for $27 on my website but you can get it for free today. Use coupon code (listen to the episode to get your coupon code) at checkout to claim a 100% discount. There’s no catch but it’s only available to the first 100 listeners who take action today.

So in today’s episode, we are going to compare the CMA vs the CPA. This is the ultimate battle. The goal is you provide you with all the information you’ll need to make a decision on which designation is best for you.

CPA vs CMA: What’s in a Name?

People often ask me why I became a CMA (Certified Management Accountant) instead of a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). As you can expect, there are some misunderstandings about the two accounting designations. I would like to explain why I chose the CMA by highlighting the main differences and benefits of both titles, so it becomes easier for you to make a choice of your own.

Salary: Not a Small Detail

I’m going to assume that salary is an important aspect of your choice to become a CMA or a CPA.

This chart provides an overview of each designation and the average salary, depending on the age group someone belongs to.

The average CMA earns more than their CPA colleagues between 30 and 49 years of age. Obviously, your salary is influenced by multiple elements, but it’s nevertheless good to know that a CMA is more lucrative when you are just starting out.

What’s Required?

The CMA exam was reduced to 2 parts by the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) but used to consist of 4 parts, like the CPA. The CMA exam became more difficult after that change, because each exam had to cover a larger amount of content. Many considered the change off-putting, but it stimulated me to choose the CMA designation.

I also decided to become a CMA because I wanted to move up as a management accountant in private accounting. If I had opted for the CPA instead, I wouldn’t have been able to take the exams unless I got another job where I could work under a CPA for 2 years. That option didn’t appeal to me. Moreover, I wasn’t really interested in taxes and performing audits, unlike some of my colleagues.

What’s the Difference between the Exams?

Basically, the CPA exam centers around taxes, compliance, financial reporting, and auditing. The CMA, on the other hand, is focused on business analysis and strategy, and corporate financial management.

It made sense for me to become a CMA instead of a CPA, as I wanted to work in management accounting. The key differences and my preference for private accounting jobs made the CMA a better choice for me.

In a Nutshell

There are several aspects to consider when choosing between becoming a CMA or a CPA. In terms of salary, the CMA designation is more profitable than the CPA. The CPA exam consists of twice the amount of tests, but the pass rates are higher. The focus of the 2 designations is very different. So how do you decide which one to go for?

The trick is to decipher which certification is best suited for you by understanding which areas in accounting or finance you can see yourself working in. Make sure you choose a path that allows you to work in an area you truly enjoy. Each designation has its own benefits, so if you follow your interests, you can’t go wrong.

Did this comparison help? If you have follow up questions don’t hesitate to email at Nathan@cmacoach.com. I’ll gladly answer them.

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There are a lot more episodes coming soon. If you don’t want to miss any, subscribe to the show in iTunes or in Stitcher to be notified when a new episode is hot off the presses.

Before I sign off, remember to dream big and realize your full potential by becoming a certified management accountant, today.

Until the next episode.


As you may know, a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is one of the most well-known finances and accounting designations in the world… or it was until the CMA started catching up with it.

There were several factors I took into consideration when deciding which path to go down, and ultimately each candidate should be doing this.

There are several core differences between these certifications and your personal preferences will also play a contributing role in which is best for you.

Ready to find out whether or not the CMA vs CPA is right for you? Just click the play button at the top of the page, download this in iTunes or listen on Stitcher.

Like what you hear? Give us a 5-star rating or leave a review!

Here’s What You’ll Learn in this Week’s Episode:

  • Which designation earns more money annually
  • What it takes to qualify for the CMA and CPA exams
  • Core differences between the examination process
  • How to determine which designation is best suited for you and your career goals


  • CMACoach.com — The most comprehensive online resource for CMA candidates
  • The Ultimate Guide to the CMA Exam — Get your FREE download now
  • CMAExamAcademy.com — The best online, Instructor-led CMA review course

Like what you heard? Be sure to share it with your friends, family or coworkers and join me for brand new episodes every week.





P.S. Let’s go deeper into other designations shall we?

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One Comment on “Episode 4: CMA vs CPA – What’s in a Name?”

  1. Pingback: How Hard is the CMA Exam? Understanding CMA Exam Difficulty - CMA Exam Academy

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