Are you trying to decide between getting your CPA or CMA license? If so, this article will help.
While both certifications deal with finance and accounting, there are key differences that make each certification unique. There are also differences in the positions and work you can perform with each license.
Most importantly, employers want candidates to have certain certifications, so your choice will impact your job potentials. It’s important to choose the right certification so you don’t get stuck following the wrong career path.
This article outlines the cost, time, and effort required to obtain a CPA and CMA license and touches on what’s possible for becoming self-employed with each certification.
How much time does it take to become a certified CPA vs. a CMA?
Becoming a CMA requires between 200 and 300 hours of study. Becoming a CPA requires between 300 and 400 hours of study. However, some people need to study for shorter or longer periods of time. It all depends on how quickly and easily you learn the material. Regardless of the certification you’re after, taking a prep course will be your ticket to learning the material faster.
There are several benefits to taking a prep course. The best reason? Taking a prep course cuts your study time down. A prep course isn’t a replacement for studying – it’s a tool that makes studying easier, less confusing, and helps you laser focus on the areas you struggle with most.
Many prep courses also provide predictive scoring, which tells you how you’ll likely do on the real exam.
If you fail the exam the first time around, you’ll need to retake the test. This means you’ll need to study even more. Whether you pursue CPA or CMA certification, don’t skip the prep course.
What is the cost for obtaining a CPA license vs. a CMA license?
There are several costs associated with obtaining a CMA or CPA license. You’ll need to pay for the following:
- Application fee
- Registration fee
- Ethics exam fee
- Certification exam fee
- Prep course fee
CPA certification costs $4,400 on average
The certification exam costs also vary and are broken up by section since you don’t have to take all four sections of the exam at once. The fee per exam section is around $200, for an average total of about $800.
CMA certification costs just under $3,000 on average
You’ll need to be an IMA member to take the CMA exam. This will cost you $592.50 or $790, depending on whether you’re a professional or student member. Next, you’ll need to pay for your prep course, which also varies in price depending on whether you’re a student or professional. You can expect to pay around $1,400 for a good review course.
What is the average annual salary for a CPA?
CPA salaries vary by state, but the average annual salary can range from $52,848 in North Carolina to $83,831 in Washington state. That averages out to between $25.41 and $40.30 per hour. Granted, many CPAs work overtime and earn salaries above $100,000.
According to Monster.com, CPAs earn a 5% premium in the financial industry compared to other certifications, but that trend might be changing. More companies are starting to prioritize placing CMAs in key roles like the financial controller. This role has expanded over time to encompass more than just accounting duties.
Today’s financial controllers are tasked with strategic decision-making and placed in advisory roles. While CPAs make fantastic accountants, their training isn’t focused on leadership and decision-making. In some industries, CMAs are earning the premium over CPAs.
What is the average salary for a CMA?
CMA salaries also vary by state, but the average yearly salary is $99,700, according to a 2016 report released by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). However, a newer IMA survey shows higher income earning potential for CMAs between the ages of 40 and 49 at just over $140,000 per year. The survey also shows CMAs who also hold a CPA earn more than $160,000 per year on average.
While a CMA certification will give you a higher earning potential, your salary won’t be determined by your certification alone. The average salary for a CMA will vary based on the position you hold. For example, you could become a financial controller and work your way up to CFO. As a financial controller, you’ll make less than you would as a CFO.
Is it easier to become self-employed as a CPA or a CMA?
Both CPA and CMA certifications will allow you to become self-employed, but will determine your area of expertise. For instance, if you want to prepare taxes, CPA certification is the obvious choice. However, if you want to be a financial consultant, you’ll want CMA certification.
Choose the certification that will allow you to enjoy being self-employed. Don’t just choose based on what you think you can earn. You can always find ways to increase your salary.
Article Submitted By Community Writer