Episode 6 – CGMA vs CMA

Episode 6 - CGMA vs CMA
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Not too long ago a new designation was born — Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). As you can imagine, this got the accounting world buzzing. Now, which one should accountants go for first? The CGMA vs CMA?

Read Full Transcript of this Episode

CGMA vs CMA: The Difference Is Not Just in the G

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 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 only available for a limited time.

In today’s episode we’ll compare the CMA and the CGMA

As both the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) and the CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant) are management accounting certifications, they are direct competitors. So how can you be sure which designation suits you best? The main factors of each designation are explained below, so you can choose wisely.

A Concise History of the CMA and Its Younger Brother

The CMA exam has existed for over 40 years and has long been seen as the perfect designation for people with an interest in management-related accounting fields.

The CGMA, however, didn’t exist until January 2012. Its main goal was to spread the worldwide reach of CMA acknowledgment. It was founded by AICPA and CIMA, 2 organizations for public accountants and management accountants. You can attain this designation through either association, but they differ in terms of eligibility and requirements.

Are You Eligible?

This factor can be conclusive in the decision of becoming a CGMA or a CMA. The first option, CMA, doesn’t have as many restrictions as the CGMA, all you need is a bachelor’s degree and an IMA membership.

As a CMA candidate, you need relevant work experience, but 2 successive years of managerial experience are sufficient. Your work experience can consist of anything from (non-)public accounting, over budget preparation, to financial management, information system analysis, research, management consulting, or teaching. If you are not sure whether your work experience is sufficient, don’t hesitate to email the IMA’s customer support. They will be able to give you more information about your eligibility.

The second option, CGMA, can only be pursued by members of AICPA and CIMA. If you take the AICPA route, you have to be an active CPA. Moreover, you are expected to have had a job in management accounting and to succeed on the CGMA exam.

One particularly distressing point that I would like to discuss about about the CGMA is that when it was first developed, the AICPA basically sold the certification for a fee. Simply put, thousands of CPA members were able to buy this designation, without ever having to take or pass an examination.

Besides being incredibly unethical, what this means is there are thousands of practicing CGMA’s who don’t possess the actual knowledge or skills. This is a real issue because there will be even more clients who will hire these individuals based on this supposed accreditation when in fact, the accountant never earned it.

As you can imagine, the IMA and its designated CMAs were not impressed with this at all. It is very disappointing to know that there are so many people marketing themselves as having a laudable credential when it was really just a money grab for the AICPA.

Thankfully now, all those who wish to have the CGMA title must earn it by meeting the requirements and passing the exam.

If you choose the CIMA path to become a CGMA, you have to be a member, have 3 years of management accounting work experience, and pass a couple of CIMA exams, including the CIMA Business Accounting Certificate. However, if you have worked in public accounting, you can replace 1 of the necessary years of experience with that.

In January 2015 it was decided that whether a candidate goes through AICPA or CIMA, they have to pass the same final exam.

What’s the Financial Picture?

Let’s not beat around the bush: salary is an important element when deciding on a career path. The IMA salary survey concluded the average CMA earns $115,763, whereas their non-certified colleagues only earn $92,639. Unfortunately, the CGMA does not yet have salary data.

Do Employers Prefer CMAs or CGMAs?

The CMA has been around for more than 40 years and is very successful in the US and around the globe. In the beginning of 2015, the rising necessity for employees with a CMA really became important. In other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, the CMA designation is a rising star. CMAs are definitely in high demand, more so than their CGMA peers.

So Which One Should You Pick?

As the CGMA designation is still in its early stages, it’s only normal that not a lot of countries support it yet. As a result, it is not yet a competitor of the CMA designation. You should definitely bear this in mind if you want to work abroad and become a CGMA. Also, don’t forget you need a CPA license before you can even start thinking of a CGMA designation.

The CMA exam tests more management accounting topics than the CGMA. In other words, if you want to gain management accounting skills and knowledge to improve your status in the workplace, you should definitely choose the CMA.

All in all, the CMA is a safer bet at this point in time. It requires less time and effort, the advantages are much more certain and it’s recognized as the gold standard in management accounting and financial decision making.

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

If you are on your iPhone please go to www.cmaexamacademy.com/review and leave a review of the show in iTunes. It’ll mean the world to me and it’ll help the show tremendously.

If you are on an android phone, please go to www.cmaexamacademy.com/stitcher and leave a review there as well. You’ll help spread the word about the show and help others learn about the CMA designation.

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 press.

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

Until the next episode.

Was it going to be accepted by the community? Was it worth its salt? Or was it a flawed certification, though with good intentions, failed to meet the high standards we expect from certified accountants?

In this episode, you are going to hear a bit about the history of the CGMA vs CMA, how you can earn this designation and which one you should consider.

Probably one of the most controversial designations yet, you’re going to want to hear every word of this podcast. To dive right in, 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 of CGMA vs CMA:

  • A juicy history of the CGMA vs CMA
  • Are you eligible, or does that even matter?
  • Show me that money — what’s your earning potential
  • Which designation is more desirable to employers
  • Decision time. Find out which one is best suited for you


  • CMACoach.com — The most comprehensive online resource for CMA candidates
  • The Ultimate Guide to the CMA Exam — Listen in for your FREE download discount code
  • 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.




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