CMA vs MBA – Let’s Choose The Right One For You!

Episode 5 - CMA vs MBA
Click Play to Listen to this Episode (10:13)

In the last episode, I dove into the core differences between the IMA CMA and the Certified Public Accountant certifications because so many people have asked me why I chose one over the other. Have you wondered about the CMA vs MBA?

CMA and MBA are two radically different designations. MBA is a Master’s degree, which takes two years of formal schooling to acquire. In contrast, the CMA is a certificate obtained by passing an exam. You can get your CMA in as little as two months if you already meet some of the Certified Management Accountant requirements.

Read Full Transcript of this Episode

Hello CMA Candidates, welcome to a brand new episode of the Free CMA Exam Mastery Course. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’ll be a short episode but an important one.

If you haven’t already go to 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. As of this podcast episode, over 50 people have taken their free copy so there’s less than 50 at this point. Don’t wait any longer.

So in today’s episode, we are going to compare the CMA to the MBA. I get asked on a regular basis whether I recommend CMA (Certified Management Accountant) or MBA (Master of Business Administration). It’s an important question to consider, because it will shape your career, income potential, and life in many respects. Moreover, it’s a question I can’t answer for you – but I can help you answer it. In this episode, we’ll compare the 2 designations in terms of character, salary, eligibility, and job opportunities.

Which Is Which?

Tailor your learning to your end goal and know the difference between your options. The CMA is a professional designation recognized by the field. The MBA, on the other hand, is an academic degree.

Even though each designation is an outstanding career goal in the field of finance, the MBA contains a wide range of finance units, while the CMA focuses on management accounting. In other words, the MBA covers a broader spectrum of topics, whereas the CMA prepares you for a specific career.

Who Earns More?

According to, an MBA in accounting and business earned $102,665 on average in 2015. People with an executive MBA in finance had an average salary of $150,000.

Depending on your function ( as a CMA you can have a salary between $39,974 and $215,561. In other words, each designation has great earning possibilities. If you manage to climb higher up the ladder as a CMA, you will probably earn more than the average MBA. Nevertheless, if you are only just starting out, odds are your salary will be lower than that of your MBA peers. It all depends on your position, experience, and company.

Are You Eligible?

The CMA and MBA are both only available as postgraduate choices. For the MBA you need an extra 1-2 years of school after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. The CMA designation, however, can be finished in 6 months.

When you have spent about 4 years working hard on your bachelor’s degree, it can be a deterrent to engage in 2 more years of studying – even more so when you can become a CMA much faster.

Moreover, getting an MBA is very competitive, and your school’s reputation can dictate a first impression to an employer. A lot of studies have been done on MBA programs and their ROI. Because the CMA exam is an industry-designated exam, only one institution is responsible for it; in other words, it is the same for everyone, which makes potential bias inexistent.

Finally, the CMA is self-taught, so candidates can study at their own speed, with the help of review courses like CMA Exam Academy, while simultaneously working in the industry. Don’t underestimate that advantage: as opposed to being a full-time MBA student for 2 more years, you can gain valuable work experience while studying for your CMA designation. Doing that will prove to future employers that you are hard-working and goal-oriented –who doesn’t want that in an employee?

Which Option Is the Golden Path?

If you plan to work for an investment bank or in securities, an MBA will get your foot in the door. Otherwise, I would recommend the CMA. Another aspect to take into consideration is that the CMA is geared towards accounting and finance professionals, while also incorporating various business acumen courses similar to those you would find in most university MBA courses. In other words, you are not missing out on anything if you choose the CMA designation.

According to industry professionals, the CMA title immediately influences people’s career, whereas an MBA won’t start opening more doors until you have been in the game for 5 to 10 years. Depending on your career plans and goals, that information might influence your final decision.

With that being said, I recommend starting off with the CMA designation, since it requires much less time to complete and is considerably less expensive. If you eventually decide to become an MBA as well, that’s still possible.

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

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Here I wanted to compare another popular accreditation — the Master of Business Administration, or MBA as it is more commonly referred to.

You may be wondering why I am spending time discussing other career paths, but I believe it’s important for every candidate to choose the path that is best suited for them. The only way you can do that is to know your options.

So, ready to find out some differences between the CMA vs MBA? 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:

  • What the MBA is exactly
  • What is CMA Certification
  • Your earning potential as a CMA vs MBA
  • The eligibility requirements that may make you think twice about your choice
  • Which accreditation will lead you down the career path of your dreams


  • — The most comprehensive online resource for CMA candidates
  • The Ultimate Guide to the CMA Exam — Listen in for your FREE download discount code
  • — The best online, Instructor-led CMA review course
  • — Comparing salary earning potential for all career paths

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





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One Comment on “CMA vs MBA – Let’s Choose The Right One For You!”

  1. I am not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.

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