Comparing CMA and CPA: Which Certification is Right for You?


Obtaining a professional certification or a practicing license is a major factor for many aspiring accountants. Before opting for a prep course, it is crucial to thoroughly weigh all the options because it might significantly impact your career. Deciding to pursue a career as a Certified Public Accountant or Certified Management Accountant is one of the most important decisions an accounting student needs to make. The CMA USA Course and CPA Course are exceptional and well-acknowledged career paths in the accounting industry. Both the CMA USA & US CPA professionals perform accounting duties, but their methods differ slightly.
So, which course is better for you? In this blog, we'll discuss the differences between a CPA Course and a CMA Course and demonstrate how they will influence your decision regarding which certification is best for you.

What is CMA USA?

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) offers the CMA USA or Certified Management Accountant credential, and this body is in charge of testing and administering its exam along with the entire certification process. US CMAs are highly skilled in strategic management, company decision-making, and fundamental financial accounting procedures.

What is CPA USA?

After passing the Uniform CPA Exam, administered by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants), US Certified Public Accountants, or US CPAs, are granted licenses by the respective state's board of accountancy. These accountants have the authority to sign tax and regulatory files as well as perform audit levels.

Difference Between CMA USA Course and US CPA Course - Comparative Table

Organizing BodyInstitute of Management Accountants (IMA)American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
Exam Parts2 Parts1 - Financial Planning, Performance & Analytics
2 - Strategic Financial Management
4 PartsAuditing and Attestation (AUD),Business Environment & Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR),Regulation (REG)
Average first-time pass rate35%45%
Duration6-9 months1.5 years
JobsCost AccountantConsultantFinancial ManagerManagement AccountantFinancial Risk ManagerPublic AccountantFinancial AnalystFinance OfficerInternal Auditor
You must have got some insight about the difference from the table. Now we will discuss this in detail to get a comprehensive idea.

Required Qualifications or Experience

The US CPA and CMA courses need a candidate to hold a bachelor's degree or a comparable professional credential to be eligible for the certification exam. Additionally, although the CMA certification requirements need two years of expertise in management accounting or financial management, the CPA USA requires two years of experience in public accounting. 
You must have earned 120 credits if you intend to sit for the US CPA examination. To get certified and receive your full US CPA license, you will require 150 credit hours; thus, you will need to complete 30 additional credits. The candidate for the CMA course foundation level must have finished their secondary education from a recognized board and possess either a National Diploma in Commerce or a mark sheet showing they passed class 12th.

CMA & CPA Course Duration and Fees

The CMA USA course takes about 6 to 9 months to complete the 2 CMA exam parts. On the other hand, the CPA course might take at least a year, and to pass the Uniform CPA exam, a candidate must pass four papers. Both CMA USA and CPA might seem costly, but a CPA course is comparatively more time and money-consuming. The cost of the US CPA course, including exam fees, licensing fees, application fees, and also training fees, is around $4500. The fee structure, however, could differ from state to state. US CPA course fees in India will come to around 3,00,000 INR (ref.).
The CMA course, on the other hand, costs $2000, which includes the entry fee, the registration charge per each exam section, and the training fee. CMA course fee in India ranges from 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh rupees (ref.). For more detailed information and the best discounts, you can contact our counselors @ +91 8147470707.

CMA vs. CPA Careers

US CMAs and US CPAs may work together in teams, although their responsibilities commonly vary. It is because the US CMA course trains accounting professionals to be leaders in their organizations.
Several local and global opportunities exist for Certified Public Accountants. Companies may provide chances in attestation, taxation, and consulting. Following completion of the US CPA certification, the following are some of the most common job profiles:
  • Financial Controller
  • Public Accountant
  • Tax Accountant
  • Internal Auditor
  • Financial Manager
Your CMA course will prepare you to operate in large businesses with complicated working environments. Depending on your preferences, you might work in financial institutions, multinational banks, or even trending firms. Following completion of the CMA USA Course, the following are some of the most popular career profiles:
  • Financial Risk Manager
  • Corporate Controller
  • Internal Auditor
  • Cost Accountant
  • Consultant
  • CFO (Chief Financial Officer)

Salary & Future Opportunities 

If there is one thing that both the CMA course and the CPA course have in common, it is that they are both in demand in the accounting industry, have a broad range of applications, and provide several prospects for career advancement. If we use statistics, an experienced Certified Public Accountant makes an average compensation of roughly $66,000, whereas a Certified Management Accountant makes an average pay of about $60,000 (ref.). Although CMA and CPA salaries sometimes appear to be quite comparable, CMAs often earn somewhat more. 

CPA vs. CMA - Which is difficult?

So which of the two accounting certificates is more challenging when compared on a scale of difficulty?
Although there is no objective answer to this topic, most individuals will agree that the CPA is a little more difficult. In fact, since the pass rate for the CPA Exam stays around 50% throughout the four sections, applicants for the exam may fear for their results without adequate preparation. CMA USA, however, may be more beneficial to accountants.
The study resources you utilize, your degree of expertise, and your education will all affect how much more challenging you believe the CPA exam is. There will be more of an emphasis on management accounting for those who take the CMA USA certification exam. This test will be simpler for you if this is the area in which you now work. 

CMA vs. CPA Which is Better?

The answer to the question mentioned above is that both of these certificates are excellent and have a great deal of respect in the profession of finance & accounting. They guide prospective applicants along various professional pathways, and that is what matters. Planning, budgeting, and forecasting are all accounting topics that a US CMA might teach you, but a US CPA would teach you all there is to know about taxation and corporate governance. You may select whatever course is suitable for you based on your preferred learning methods.


1. Which certification is right for you: CMA or CPA?

If a candidate has a keen interest in taxation, reporting, auditing, and law, they ought to seek a CPA course. Conversely, a CMA USA Course degree would be preferable for someone interested in management, strategic analysis, and decision-making.

2. Who is paid more, CPA or CMA?

Even while the wages of CMAs and CPAs sometimes appear to be quite comparable, it is clear that CMAs often earn more in the long term since they take on strategic tasks. The CMA USA course gives students a more comprehensive exposure to the world than the CPA since it is an internationally recognized qualification.

3. What are the benefits of getting a CMA certification?

Corporate governance and other crucial commercial, financial, and accounting topics are covered in detail in the CMA USA course. As a result, candidates who have obtained the CMA certification can make choices on behalf of the company or take part in group decisions. With this certification, you can get a job in India and abroad. Accounting professionals from India who hold CMA USA credentials could earn more money than those who don't.

4. Which is difficult, CMA or CPA?

Most individuals believe that the CPA is a little more difficult. But if you have the right mentor who offers adequate instructions and the right resources, both the CPA and the CMA USA exams may be easily passed. Put your study strategy in the right direction, and you'll succeed.

5. How many attempts are there in the CMA exam?

There is no restriction on the number of times a single candidate may sit for the CMA evaluation. The cost of the CMA USA course certification, however, has a deadline. Candidates have three years from the time the CMA entry fee is paid to pass both portions of the test.


Now that you are informed about both the excellent certifications and the respective CPA and CMA USA courses, you can simply decide which one to take or perhaps enroll in both. However, doing the courses one after another is always advised for better results. 
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