CMA vs CPA – Which is Better

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The primary question that arises when comparing CMA vs CPA is which is better. The answer is both of these qualifications are excellent and well-regarded in the accounting profession. The important thing is that they lead the aspiring candidates to different career paths. If a candidate is interested in auditing, taxation, reporting, and regulation, then he/ she should opt for CPA, while if someone is interested in management, strategic analysis, and decision making, then CMA may be a more sensible choice for him/ her. So, allow us to take a better check out the difference between both certification courses and then decide.

Difference Between CMA and CPA

Skills Obtained:

Certified CPA personnel develops the power to crunch numbers at will as they're required to review day-to-day accounting activities with a serious specialize in taxation and auditing. On the opposite hand, certified CMA personnel develops expertise in analyzing and interpreting data, which is then wont to drive the business’s financial improvements. The role of CMAs requires more strategic thinking ability as they have to create forward-looking strategies.


When it comes to difficulty both CMA and CPA need different educational requirements, exams, and licenses. The CMA is a more specialized certification, requiring applicants to complete a professional certification program, pass the CMA exam, and maintain their certification by fulfilling continuing education requirements established by the Institute of Management Accountants. On the other hand, the CPA license is administered by each state’s board of accountancy and requires applicants to have completed college-level accounting courses, have sufficient work experience, and pass the Uniform CPA Exam


For CPA, a candidate gets 18 months to clear all the four parts of the course, and therefore the clock starts ticking from the day the candidate clears the primary part. On the opposite hand, a candidate gets three years for clearing both parts of the CMA exam and therefore the time starts from the day of the registration.

Eligibility or Experience required

As far as eligibility cares, both CPA and CMA require a candidate to possess a bachelor’s degree or related professional certification. Besides, CPA requires two years of public accounting experience, while CMA requires two years of management accounting or financial management experience. After being certified, a CPA must complete 40 hours of continuous Education per annum. A CMA must complete 30 hours of continuous Education per annum to take care of their respective certifications.

CPA vs CMA: Syllabus

The CPA course is divided into four parts – Business Environment & Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR), Audit & Attestation (AUD), and Regulation (REG). BEC primarily covers management-related topics, while the remaining specialize in other fields of tax and auditing. Some of the main subjects covered as part of the CPA course include corporate governance, economic concepts & analysis, professional responsibilities ethics & general principles, financial statement accounts, entity federal taxation, individual federal taxation, etc.

On the other hand, CMA emphasizes building analytical skills, such as data reporting and critical decision making. Some of the main subjects covered as part of the CMA course include planning, budgeting & forecasting, performance management, internal controls, cost management, decision analysis, professional ethics, financial statement analysis, etc.

CMA and CPA Career Opportunity and Salary

CPA professionals usually pursue the career of an accountant or financial advisor. Some of the most common job profiles that CPAs go for include public accountants, management accountants, internal auditors, etc. On the other hand, CMA-certified professionals intend to work for large corporations, and some of their common job profiles include cost accountants, consultants, financial risk managers, etc. Over the course of the career, the typical salary of a CPA hovers around $120,000, while that of a CMA is around $100,000.

Fees and Passing Rates

When comparing CMA vs CPA course fees, On average, the CPA certification cost comes at around $1,500, which incorporates exam fees, application fees, and licensing fees. On the other hand, the CMA certification cost is approximately $1,000, which includes all the fees. However, the certification cost in both cases doesn’t include the value of a review course that candidates usually take up for studying. It is fair to say that both the course exams are challenging. As per the latest analysis, the pass rate of US CMA worldwide to clear both Parts I and Part II is 45% while, CPA exam is nearly 50%.

Exam Availability

As of 1st July 2020, the CPA exams have been switched to the Continuous Testing model to write the test throughout the year. On the other hand, the CMA exams will be taking place in the usual three testing windows in a year, January – February, May – June, and September – October.

Focus Area

CPAs are primarily involved in public accounting, preparing financial statements and tax returns for businesses and individuals. They are also responsible for conducting audits of financial statements to provide an independent assessment of the financial health of organizations. On the other hand, CMAs are primarily involved in internal management accounting, providing financial analysis and decision support to organizations. They are responsible for developing and implementing financial strategies, analyzing financial data, and making recommendations to improve performance.


Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant are two distinct professional certifications, each with its own focus and purpose. CPAs are primarily focused on accounting, auditing, and taxation, while CMAs are focused on financial management and strategy. CPAs are responsible for preparing financial statements, tax returns, and conducting audits, while CMAs are responsible for providing financial analysis, strategic planning, and decision support to organizations.

CMA vs CPA - Which Designation is Right for You?

Deciding between CMA or CPA is ultimately a private choice. Consider your personal interests. Do you like calculation, auditing and taxation or the more strategic and analytical aspects of managerial accounting? If the latter, choose the CMA designation.

Do you want to earn a competitive salary and have a globally recognized designation? How much does one want to take a position in your finance and accounting career; both mentally and financially? Answering all of those questions can help lead you to the designation right for you, contact us for more information.


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    1. Raju says:

      Brief but very accurate information� Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!

    2. Schools in KUMBALGARH says:

      nice post. very well written. looking for more like this

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