CPA vs CMA India - A Complete Guide


When it comes to deciding between two professional certifications in the same field, it can be a difficult choice. CPA and CMA India are two of the most popular and widely accepted professional certifications in the field of Accountancy in India. The two certifications are not the same, and they both offer great career opportunities in the field of Accountancy for working professionals or students from a commerce background. 
This article focuses on the various aspects of CPA and CMA India, including the course details and career opportunities of both Accountancy certifications.

US CPA vs CMA India

The first point you need to know about US CPA vs CMA India is the basic idea of the two accountancy certifications. Knowing about the individual accounting bodies is also important as it will be relevant to help you know where you should apply and look for references after deciding upon the certification you would choose to pursue. 


The US Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) is a professional credential offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to individuals validating their knowledge and expertise in the field of Accountancy. Individuals certified as CPAs are hired by top multinational companies, businesses, and organizations to help them reach their financial goals and requirements.
The US CPA certification is a largely sought-after professional certification in various fields, including public accounting, business, nonprofits, and government sectors. These professionals are in high demand for their expertise and take high-paying jobs in companies and organizations requiring services related to the field of Accountancy. The CPA License can be used to find an accounting job in many countries and get hired by your dream companies, even in the Big 4s.

CMA India

The Cost and Management Accountant (CMA India) is a professional certification in Accountancy conferred by the accounting body of India - the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI). CMA India increases the employability of certified individuals through technical and industrial exposure. CMA India also helps gain expert knowledge in various aspects of the field of Accountancy while expanding earning potential with the availability of various jobs in the relevant field. CMA India is recognized in India. Thus, these certified individuals can find relevant career opportunities within India.
Now let us check the career opportunities and salary packages that Licensed US CPA and CMA India professionals can avail themselves of after acquiring either certification.

CPA vs CMA India Salary & Job Opportunities

The difference in salary and job opportunities available to Licensed CPA and CMA India professionals is a significant deciding factor for candidates to choose either course to build a career on. In this subsection of CPA vs CMA India, let us check the career opportunities and salary offered to individuals holding either certification.


With the help of the US CPA License, you can get a desired job role within the best MNCs globally requiring financial and Accountancy services. These job roles include:
  • Public Accountant
  • Budget analyst
  • Tax examiner
  • Business systems analyst
  • Staff-Financial Accounting & Reporting
  • Staff-Tax Accounting
  • Staff-Internal Audit
  • Internal audit
  • Controller
  • Financial Advisor
  • Forensic Accounting, etc.
Another great aspect of pursuing this certification is the CPA salary in India. The average annual CPA salary in India is INR 7-9 LPA. With increasing experience in the field, licensed professionals will have prosperous careers with increasing salary prospects.

CMA India

CMA India-certified individuals are eligible for the following job roles:
  • Cost Auditor
  • Internal Auditor
  • Valuation and Audits under GST
  • Insolvency Professional 
  • Registered Valuer
  • Loss Assessor
  • Surveyor
  • Tax Consultants
  • Tax Practitioner
  • Arbitrator
  • Advisor on Funds 
  • Management
  • Financial Services
  • Information System Audit
  • Forensic Audit
The average CMA India salary in India is INR 10 lakhs per annum.
Although there are similarities in the job roles of CPA and CMA India professionals, CMA India professionals have limited geographical areas where they are eligible to work, unlike CPA, which is globally recognized. CPA Licensed individuals can find jobs in more than 180 countries worldwide.

US CPA vs CMA India Course Details

Learning about the CPA vs CMA India Course Details will help you know which course suits your interests best. In this subsection, you can find important information about CMA and CPA course details in India certification, along with the duration within which you can finish each course.
One common thing in CPA vs CMA India is that to acquire either certification, you must take the US CPA or CMA India exam and clear the exam.
First of all, you should be aware of the eligibility requirements to take the CPA certification exam or the CMA India exam. So let's check the eligibility criteria first.

US CPA vs CMA India Eligibility Criteria


The US CPA certification can be pursued by individuals looking to start a career or by those looking for a change of growth in their career. However, it is imperative to know the eligibility prerequisites for pursuing the CPA credentials as specified by the AICPA. The eligibility requirements for the CPA certification are as follows.
  • Candidates must possess a Master's degree from a recognized University/Institution/College.
  • Candidates should possess at least 1-2 years of work experience under a licensed CPA.
  • After graduation, candidates must acquire 150 credits to apply for the CPA exam.
CPA course in Andhra Pradesh
CMA India
The CMA India eligibility requirements vary for the three different stages of the certification exam. These have been elaborated on below.
To be eligible for the Foundation course exam of CMA India, candidates need to have cleared the following:
  • Class 10 or Equivalent Pass (minimum criteria for Admission)
  • 10+2 or Equivalent (for appearing Examination)
To be eligible for the Intermediate Course of the CMA India certification exam, candidates need to have cleared the following:
  • CMA Foundation
  • CAT
  • Graduate from any recognized university or institution
  • ICSI Foundation
  • Qualified Engineers pursuing Engineering Courses
To be eligible for the Final course exam of CMA India, candidates need to clear the Intermediate Course level exam.

CPA vs CMA India Syllabus

Knowing the exam syllabus in CPA vs CMA India is highly crucial as it gives you an insight into what you must study to pass either certification exam.
CPA Course Subjects
The US CPA exam syllabus consists of four sections:
  • Auditing & Attestation (AUD)
  • Regulation (REG)
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)
  • Business Environment & Concepts (BEC)
Let us now check the sub-topics and weightage allocation to understand where you should focus more.
Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  • Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, & General Principles (15 25%)
  • Assessing Risk & Developing a Planned Response (25 35%)
  • Performing Further Procedures & Obtaining Evidence (30 40%)
  • Forming Conclusions and Reporting (10 20%)
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
  • Enterprise Risk Management, Internal Controls, & Business Processes (20 30%)
  • Economics (15 25%)
  • Financial Management (10 20%)
  • Information Technology (15 25%)
  • Operations Management (15 25%)
Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)
  • Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, & Financial Reporting (25 35%)
  • Select Financial Statement Accounts (30 40%)
  • Select Transactions (20 30%)
  • State and Local Governments (5 15%)
Regulation (REG)
  • Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, & Federal Tax Procedures (10 20%)
  • Business Law (10 20%)
  • Federal Taxation of Property Transactions (12 22%)
  • Federal Taxation of Individuals (15 25%)
  • Federal Taxation of Entities (28 38%)

CMA India Subjects

The whole CMA India Course syllabus is extensive and consists of three sections-
  • Foundation Course
  • Intermediate Course, and
  • Final Course
Let's check the subjects of each section to know what you will be studying in the CMA India Course.
  • P1 - Fundamentals of Economics and Management 
  • P2 - Fundamentals of Accounting
  • P3 - Fundamentals of Laws & Ethics
  • P4 - Fundamentals of Business Mathematics & Statistics
Group I
  • P5 - Financial Accounting
  • P6 - Laws and Ethics
  • P7 - Direct Taxation
  • P8 - Cost Accounting
Group II
  • P9 - Operations Management & Strategic Management
  • P10 - Cost Management Accounting & Financial Management
  • P11 - Indirect Taxation
  • P12 - Company Accounts & Audit
Group III
  • P13 - Corporate Laws & Compliance
  • P14 - Strategic Financial Management
  • P15 - Strategic Cost Management - Decision Making
  • P16 - Direct Tax Laws and International Taxation
Group IV
  • P17 - Corporate Financial Reporting
  • P18 - Indirect Tax Laws & Practice
  • P19 - Cost & Management Audit
  • P20 - Strategic Performance Management and Business Valuation

CPA vs CMA India Course Duration

Another deciding factor that comes up when choosing a professional certification to pursue is the time duration required to complete the certification course and acquire the certification. Let's examine the CPA vs CMA India duration required to complete the course and obtain the certification.

CPA Course Duration

You can do the US CPA course while pursuing your bachelor's degree. The CPA course must be completed within 18 months after registration. However, with the help of CPA coaching, you can reduce the CPA course duration after B.Com to just 12 months. It means you are left with ample time for self-studying and further doubt-clearing before the exam.

CMA India Course Duration

It takes different time duration to complete each stage of the CMA India course. The Foundation course requires a minimum of 8 months, the Intermediate Course takes a minimum of 10 Months, and the Final course requires a minimum of 18 Months. Moreover, you would also need three years of work experience to apply for CMA India Membership. That means, in total, it would take three years to clear the CMA India exam and then three years of work experience.

CPA vs CMA India Course Fee

Knowing the course fee of either certification is important as it will help you take the financial aspect into consideration for pursuing and knowing which one is more economical.
CPA Course Fee
The AICPA charges a number of fees for the CPA certification exam, which include the Application Fee, Examination Fee, Registration Fee, Ethics Fee, CPA Licensing Fee, and Continuing Professional Education (CPE) for the CPA Exam. For your reference, the US CPA course fees in Bangalore in each case have been summarized below.
  1. Application Fees 
Depending upon the state, the Application Fee in India ranges from approx. Rs. 3,600 to Rs. 14,500.
  1. Examination Fee 
The Examination Fee is taken separately for each section of the exam. The Examination Fee for each section is approximately Rs. 14,100.
  1. Registration Fee
There are different options for paying the Registration Fee. If someone decides to take one exam at a time, he has to pay a Registration Fee for each section of the exam. If someone decides to club one or more exams at a time, they are eligible for some discounts on the Registration Fee. However, in such cases, an NTS (Notice to Schedule) is issued, which is valid for six months, within which the candidates have to complete the exams that they have selected; otherwise, NTS will not be valid.
The options available to pay the Registration Fee are given as follows:
  • One exam at a time: Rs. 4600
  • Two exams at a time: Rs. 5900
  • Three exams at a time: Rs. 7200
  • All exams clubbed together: Rs. 12900
  1. Ethics Fee
It is an optional fee that is required to be paid depending on the state and is around Rs. 11000- Rs. 15000.
  1. CPA Licensing Fee
The CPA Licensing Fee is to be paid to maintain the CPA License every year. The CPA Licensing Fee is approximately $50-$500, depending on the state of practice.
  1. Continuing Professional Education (CPE) for CPA Exam
This is also an optional fee for candidates who demand an extra 40 hours of updated education every year so as to stay updated according to industry norms. This fee can range from $800-$5000.

CMA India Course Fee

The CMA India course fee is divided according to the exam levels- Foundation, Intermediate, and Final. Further, the fees are different for Foreign students (outside of India) and Inland students. Let's check the course fee break-up in detail.
  • INLAND - Rs. 6,000
  • FOREIGN - $250
  • INLAND - Rs. 23,100
  • FOREIGN - $1,100
  • INLAND - Rs. 25,000
  • FOREIGN - $800
On enrolling in some of the best coaching institutes for CPA, you will get many benefits which will include discounts on the exam fee, the registration fee as well as the application fee of CPA. However, this benefit is not available for CMA India fees with most coaching institutes.

Comparing US CPA vs CMA India

Accounting BodyAICPAICAI
Exam in Parts4 SectionsAUDBECREGFAR3 Levels FoundationIntermediateFinal
Course Duration18 months3 years
Exam FeeINR 1.2 lakhs (approx.)INR 55K (Approx.)
Passing Criteria50%50% Aggregate
JobsPublic Accountant, Budget Analyst, Internal Audit, Forensic Accountant, Financial Advisor, etc.Cost Auditor, Loss Assessor, Insolvency Professional, Forensic Professional, Tax Consultant, etc.


1. Is CPA easy to pass?

CPA is not an easy exam to pass as it is an internationally recognized certification exam, but it can be well managed if you prepare for the exam with the help of a top coaching institute. You can get streamlined guidance from experienced teachers and all the necessary study material to prepare well and clear for the US CPA exam in just one attempt.

2. Is CPA a stressful job?

Higher position job roles of a US CPA can add more responsibilities which automatically means more stress, but the compensation makes it worth it.

3. What is the highest paying job CPA or CMA in India?

Licensed CPA professionals have greater earning potential than CMA India-certified professionals.

4. Does CMA India have a scope?

CMA India is in demand in India, but the demand for certified CMA India professionals abroad is not enough as it is not internationally recognized. Therefore, you can choose to go with the CPA USA certification to enhance your chances of getting a lucrative and satisfying job abroad.

5. How do I clear CMA on the first attempt?

CMA India can be cleared within one year on just your first attempt. It would take quite a lot of effort and dedication, along with proper guidance from a CMA coaching institute, to help you clear the CMA exam on your first attempt.


As you may have understood from the side-by-side comparison of US CPA vs CMA India, acquiring the CPA certification will give you better career possibilities and job roles with vast recognition compared to CMA India, which is only recognized in India. You can use your CPA credentials to work in any country as an Accountant by complying with their accounting body.
If you plan to pursue CPA, you should enroll with NorthStar Academy, where you can get complete guidance for your preparation for the CPA certification exam. Expert guidance from mentors like M. Irfat sir to clear the US CPA certification exam and become a licensed accounting professional.
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So don't wait anymore for the next exam season. Join NorthStar Academy today and start your preparation for building your career as a successful CPA today!
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