CMA vs ACCA: Which is the Best Option for Your Accountancy Career?

CMA vs ACCA: Which is the Best Option for Your Accountancy Career?

Accountants rarely stop at getting their bachelor’s degree. In fact, it’s estimated that 30% to 45% of accountants have a CPA, and a fair few more have other licenses. But if you’d rather become a CMA or ACCA instead, this article can help you make a choice between the two.

What is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA)?

A certified management accountant (CMA) is the most reputable management designation in the world because it proves the holder has expertise in financial accounting and strategic management. CMAs have a broader understanding of all financial topics and management.

CMAs are approved and sponsored by the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA), which is affiliated with the Institute of Management Accountants. The ICMA has over 40,000 members in over 100 countries. Students need to take two exams to get certified.

What is a Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA)?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the international accounting body that offers the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification. An ACCA qualification proves your competition in a wide range of topics, including law, ethics, business analysis, and taxation.

While the ACCA’s headquarters are in London, many accounting schools in the USA allow you to take the test. The ACCA has over 250,000 members in over 51 countries. Only accountants certified by the ACCA can call themselves Chartered Certified Accountants legally globally.

CMA vs. ACCA: Differences at a Glance

While getting a CMA or ACCA can help you earn more money, there are many differences between both designations that could affect your choice. Here’s what you should consider.

1. Exam Fees

The total CMA exam cost in 2022 was $900 for students and $1,200 for professional members. When converted to USD, the ACCA costs $1308.76 in 2022 for all members (unless you pay late fees for all tests). The CMA is much more cost-effective, especially if you’re a student.

2. Global Presence

If you want to choose a certification with a higher global presence, choose the ACCA. The ACCA has over 250,000 members in 51 countries but nearly 543,000 future members worldwide. On the other hand, the CMA only has 40,000 members in over 100 countries.

3. Exam Duration

For the CMA, you’ll have to sit in for two exams. Each exam is 4 hours in duration and contains 100 multiple-choice questions and two 30-minute essays. The ACCA has 13 exams and an Ethics and Professional Skills Module, making it the longest exam out of the two options.

4. Salary Difference

The average salary of an ACCA is $66,824 per year, whereas the average salary of a CMA is $105,000 per year. This is likely because the CMA designation is more well-known in the United States. With that said, ACCAs don’t make significantly more in the UK, Canada, or Australia.

5. Pass Percentage

The CMA exam is much harder to pass than the ACCA exam. The CMA pass rate hovers between 15% to 20%, whereas the pass rate for the ACCA is 40% to 50%. The ACCA has a lower bar of entry than the CMA, which makes sense why the pass rate for the ACCA is so high.

6. Job Prospects

The top jobs for a CMA are financial account, management consulting and performance manager, financial risk manager, and management and cost accountant. A person with an ACCA can join accounting firms, banks, healthcare companies, and consulting businesses.

7. Value Additions

If you choose to become a CMA, you’ll be considered an expert in your field. Unfortunately, ACCAs aren’t treated with the same respect, even though they’re qualified in a number of financial topics. Fortune 500 companies are more likely to hire a CMA over an ACCA.

Why Become a Certified Management Accountant (CMA)?

Accounting professionals will want to become a CMA because of the higher salary, wide range of career prospects, and global recognition. While becoming a CMA is much harder than becoming an ACCA, the rewards are worth the trouble. Plus, the CMA exam is cheaper.

CMAs are equipped with financial knowledge that allows them to understand basic and complex management processes, skills that are incredibly valuable to employers. If you’re interested in contributing to a company’s larger business objectives, then a CMA is the right choice for you.

Why Become a Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA)?

Accounting professionals will want to become an ACCA because of the comprehensive curriculum, international compliance, and real-time experience. A key part of becoming an ACCA member is possessing at least three years of work experience in a relevant field.

While ACCAs don’t make as much as CMAs, businesses are always on the lookout for people who can recommend business solutions. Those who value you will scramble to hire you. If you’re interested in more than one career path and love to learn, the ACCA is right for you.
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