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Accounting Certifications - What's After CMA?

accounting certificationsI am new to this forum and am not sure if its right to ask this question here. I am a Commerce Graduate and awaiting results for CMA Part 2 test in December. I have close to 5 years experience in Operations Finance. What type of opportunities are available for a CMA and should I study further, CPA, MBA or some other course, which can help to strengthen my knowledge. Any ideas please.


Topic Expert
Mike Caruana
Title: Director of Financial Services
Company: Diamond Resorts International
(Director of Financial Services, Diamond Resorts International) |

Pursuing your CPA makes sense if you want to advance your Accounting career to a more senior level. Assuming so, you should consider a public accounting firm like Deloitte, PwC, E&Y, KPMG, Grant Thornton, McGladrey, etc. If these big firms are not appealing, then consider a smaller firm in that space (they vary widely by region). These firms provide comprehensive Accounting services, which should give you several options as far as where you’d like to plug in by industry (Retail, Tech, etc), functional area (Supply Chain, Finance, etc), expertise (Tax, Forensics/Fraud, etc) and other considerations.

Another benefit of working for them early into your career is that you can quickly see what you like and don’t like in business. In addition, you’ll meet some key players that can be very helpful in finding your next opportunity.

Lastly, you should consult Career Placement Services at your current/former college/university. They are usually very helpful and may even know some of the local players at each of these firms, which may make it easier to land a position there.

Best of luck in your endeavor.

(CFO) |

I donot agree with this. An advancement to senior level need not be associated with one qualification - CPA or even getting into a Big 4 etc. I am a CMA and am been associated with large to small companies as CFO and have got CFO awards (some of these awards have been voted by large accounting bodies).

I guess as long as you can do your job well besides having a good degree that ensures that you have good training on the profession, you can be do well.

Of course there is no harm in adding qualifications.


Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Pro Tech International
(Chief Financial Officer, Pro Tech International) |

Good advice from Mike. I was able to be successful in my career without the CPA, but when I became unemployed as a result of the recession, my opportunities were limited due to lack of letters behind my name, even though I had 20 years of progressive experience with impressive titles and duties. You sound young enough to make the sacrifice now. Get the CPA, then work on the MBA. It may be tough right now, but will definitely work in your favor as you move through your career.

One note, don't rest on your laurels once you obtain these certifications/degree. Potential employers will look at the qualifications, but your value to the organization will rest upon your attitude and willingness to take on responsibilities beyond your basic job description. The CPA, CMA and MBA are all tools. Make it a point to continue learning throughout your career and listen to the people who have more experience. They have made many of the mistakes you will make on your own.

(Chief Financial Officer) |

By earning your CMA you have essentially proven your skills that would encompass an MBA. I would pursue the CPA and CIA certifications.

William Deveneau
Title: Managing Partner
Company: Veracity Financial Group LLC
(Managing Partner, Veracity Financial Group LLC) |

Earning a CMA is nowhere close to encompassing the skills learned in an MBA. MBA is more about the whole picture of the company and all its functions, not just financial.

Pretam Harry
Title: Associate Administrator
Company: state of Maryland
(Associate Administrator, state of Maryland) |

It is wonderful to have these 3 letters behind your name but you don't have to have them all at once or right after each other. I believe in gaining experience, especially continuous learning and interaction in all aspects of the business/company. The CMA or any one of these three letters is a good start. Try to learn one aspect after then other, of the business. After some experience you will know when it is the right time to go for that next laurel. It is also good to space them out because you continue to learn and pick up new knowledge of the new world. Good Luck

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

If you want to pursue opportunities to bring value to the business beyond just finance (even if you are in a finance role), I would recommend an MBA. If you want to stay focused mainly in accounting, I would pursue the CPA. I am not suggesting that CPA's don't add value to the business beyond finance. I am merely indicating a way for choosing the next step on your path. You can always do both.

Adam Hicks
Title: Capital Planner
Company: MHI
(Capital Planner, MHI) |

FYI, In Canada the three accounting professions, CA, CMA, and CGA are combining to become one Canadian entity, the CPA (not sure of the timing with CGA but CA and CMA are officially 2014). If you have received a previous designation it is recommended that you include a dual credential such as CMA-CPA for the next ten years. They want to build brand awareness of the CPA in Canada and therefore allow for this transition with your "letters." Taking the CPA in Canada will not gain you any further initials. Taking the new CPA 2 year leadership course will allow you to focus on other areas of learning as they have unique paths you can choose on your learning journey. I believe there are six elective modules to choose from. But again, this will not gain you any further letters.

Ben Chang
Title: Director of Finance and Accounting
Company: Transportation & Logistics
(Director of Finance and Accounting, Transportation & Logistics) |

I would absolutely recommend getting the CPA. The CMA is a great designation, and covers a lot of material, I would say the old 4 part exam was equal to an MBA curriculum. The downside to the CMA is that it has limited market recognition, and therefore low value. The CPA on the flip side has both, great content and great market recognition, and in my experience is viewed as highly as an MBA, with the exception of MBA's from the top 20 programs. Having the CPA will help leverage the most value out of the CMA.

From a return on investment standpoint I think the CPA/CMA combo is hard to beat, both are inexpensive compared to an MBA. However the amount of letter behind your name will never beat good quality work experience.

Duane Lamoureux
Title: Managing Principal
Company: Lamoureux Consulting, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Managing Principal, Lamoureux Consulting, LLC) |

I think a CPA license is a great certification for those who are climbing the accounting ranks. It's very well recognized. Many CFOs, Controllers and those in accounting management have gone the CPA route. However, there are CFOs who aren't CPAs and they may have strong track records, MBAs, other quantitative fields or transferred from business lines in large financial institutions that value executive insight.

I believe the CPA certificate is great for those who are trying to go the CFO route by coming up through the accounting ranks (I think still the most common path).

I admire that you're evaluating your path to future success.

Robert Ewalt
Title: Exam Development Manager
Company: Institute of Certified Management Accoun..
(Exam Development Manager, Institute of Certified Management Accountants) |

All posters have good advice, but let me suggest a different approach. What do you want to do in your career? Do you want to work in public accounting? See if you have the necessary educational background now to join a firm. Many, especially the bigger firms, have excellent educational programs, many will help you get the CPA. Downside: many (75% - 80%) CPAs leave their firms to move over to corporate. Young accountants for CPA firms work long hours, and may move from client to client too rapidly to see much beyond the financial statements.

Do you want to continue in corporate accounting? With your current company? If you like your current company, and they like you, ask your boss or HR person what further training and credentials will help you and the company. If you want to move to another company, check the websites (or call the HR dept) of appropriate companies to ask what kind of credentials they are seeking. Young accountants in the corporate environment don't work the crazy hours (maybe at specified periods, but not all the time). More importantly, even junior accountants can get to see, and maybe have input into, some of the major decisions the company is making.

A third possibility is continuing toward an MBA because maybe you are one of those people who like going to school. Business is a fascinating academic area; luckily my career has allowed me a great deal of both corporate and academic experience.

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