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Pursuing both CMA and CPA

  • 1.  Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-18-2023 09:21 AM

    I have always wanted to be a CMA first and foremost, I believe I learned about it first in my Intro to Accounting class. Small business are where my heart is. I am currently working full-time at a national CPA firm while finishing school. Unfortunately, when I mentioned this to my bosses, they had no idea what it was and are exclusively focused on CPAs; as is the rest of the hiring in the industry.

    So here is my question, for those of you who are both CPAs and CMAs: which order would you recommend taking the tests?

    CPA first and then take the CMA; reverse? Simultaneously?

    Please advise.

    Brielle Beard
    Tulsa OK
    United States

  • 2.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-18-2023 10:23 AM

    Hi Brielle good day,

    Surprisingly your bosses don't know what a CMA is. As the profession encourages continuing education & current knowledge on industry trends. You currently work for a national CPA firm, if you transition to industry, they will value the CMA.

    If there are no constraints, I say take the CPA first because it is widely recognized in the U.S. and can get you in to any company, or your own company. You're also working under a CPA which is a requirement of the CPA. Then take the CMA shortly thereafter.

    If education is a restraint, get the CMA first. If finances are a constraint, get the CMA first. If technical accounting is a constraint, get the CMA first.

    I believe a CMA is wonderful for small businesses. You will be well prepared by taking the CMA. Also by pursuing both, you can advise clients and firms on whether they are actually interested in a CPA or a CMA. Because most clients think they need a CPA when they actually need a CMA.

    I'm a CMA, not a CPA, but am interested.

    P.S. the CPA test is currently undergoing a format change, this may encourage you to take the CMA test first.

    Ross Doussan CMA
    Financial Analyst
    Lexington SC
    United States

  • 3.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-19-2023 07:40 AM
    I accomplished CMA first and then the CPA.

    Douglas A. Sledge, CPA Management Accountant
    Douglas A. Sledge, CPA, CGMA. CMA. MBA
    Certified Advanced QBO QuickBooks ProAdvisor

    Plan, Organize, Implement, Control.

  • 4.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-19-2023 09:59 AM

    I received my CMA first then waited 9 years to get my CPA. However, I was always self-employed and had to pay for everything out of my own pocket. Since you work for a national CPA firm, they may give you financial assistance to get your CPA. Back when I took the CMA exams, I was told that a part could be waived if I had already passed the CPA exams. I do not believe that is the case anymore given the new formats. There is a chance that your firm will assist with the CMA as well. I would ask and see what they will do for you. I found the CPA easier than the CMA so you could consider the CPA as prep for the CMA.

    David Belnap, CMA, CPA
    Belnap Accounting
    Hollywood FL
    United States

  • 5.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-19-2023 10:26 AM

    While i recognize that a lot of your advice is contradictory to each other, i just want to take a moment to thank each of you. this is exactly the information for which i was looking. As i weigh the information and advice from each of you it will help me determine which order to take them in. My company does incentivize taking credentials with reimbursement for passing; although, they of course heavily prioritize the CPA. Please continue to tell me about your experiences in taking both as this will help me determine how to lay them out. Due to changes in the OK requirements, i should qualify for both around the same time and just after the changes to the test, in 2025'ish.

    Brielle Beard
    Tulsa OK
    United States

  • 6.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-19-2023 10:40 AM
    Hi Brielle,

    I have both certifications and took the CPA exam first as I didn't know much about the CMA.  And I didn't take the CMA exam until a few years after I graduated.  I am not surprised that your firm is focused on CPAs as that is their industry although I am surprised that they did not know what the CMA was.  However, if I had to do it over again, I would take the CMA first--as soon as you are eligible to take it and in most states it is probably sooner than when you are eligible to take the CPA exam.

    Good luck

  • 7.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-20-2023 02:40 AM
    Hi everyone, I did my CMA in August 2018 and applied for Acca exemptions. Based on CMA, they just give me 3 exemptions though previously there were 7 or 9 exemptions. Is there something I am missing to inform them that will provide me with more exemptions. 

  • 8.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-20-2023 11:02 AM

    Hi Brielle,

    I will throw in my two cents as a dual certificate holder of both the CPA and the CMA. I got my CPA first. If the CPA certification is important to your employer, and it sounds like it is, I would recommend pursuing that first. Additionally, as someone else already mentioned, the CPA is more widely recognized. Studying and prepping for both sets of tests is very time consuming, and for that reason I would not recommend pursuing both at the same time.

    Daniel Kriefall CMA, CPA
    West Fargo ND
    United States

  • 9.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-21-2023 02:12 AM

    Hi Brielle,

    I was planning to do both at the same time in 2019-2020, I did study for both simultaneously and found that the CMA covers 2 parts of the CPA at that time, Business and FAR, I ended up doing the CMA only as Covid-19 travel restrictions hit at the time I was planning to take my exams and they don't have CPA testing in the country I live in. If I had the option, I would do the them at the same time, start with the REG exam in CPA (it is the hardest part) once passed you can do the rest, time your CMA exams with the CPA FAR and Business exams as they are very similar in both.

    Good luck

    Abdelrahman Aburub CMA
    Financial Manager

  • 10.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-22-2023 09:03 AM

    I passed CPA exams first in the 90's. I got credit for financial accounting part in CMA. I am not sure about current regulations. CPA is widely known and preferred certification in US. CMA is preferred and known in manufacturing companies. It all depends on the career interest.

    Nirmala Maddula CMA
    Lead Accountant
    Worcester MA
    United States

  • 11.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-22-2023 12:37 PM
    I have taught accounting at the collegiate level for more than 50 years, and during that time I have encouraged my students to take both exams at the same time.  My students typically wanted to go into public accounting, so they were anxious to pursue the CPA Exam.  However, after three to five years in public accounting, many of them grew tired of the lifestyle and decided they wanted the stability of a career in industrial accounting, for which the CMA Exam looks good to employers.  Therefore, if you are going to need the CMA in the future, you may as well take the exam at the same time that you are studying for the CPA Exam because there is so much overlap between the two exams.  You can basically get both certifications with only one investment of study time.  Students sometimes would argue with me that they would be the exception to the general rule and would stay in public accounting for their entire careers.  My response to that was they still needed the CMA, because it would give them something to have in common with their clients.  Clients who are CMAs would be more accepting of an auditor who held both the CPA and CMA certifications.  Thus, there is no downside to passing the CMA early in your career, even if your employer requires you to have the CPA.  The CMA will either enhance your public accounting credentials or allow you to more easily leave public accounting if you so desire.

    Dale L. Flesher, Ph.D., CPA, CMA, CIA, CFE, CGMA, CGFM
    Holder of the Roland & Sheryl Burns Chair in Accountancy
    University of Mississippi
    130 Lakeway Drive
    Oxford, MS  38655
    Telephone 662-816-8819
    Email: acdlf@...

  • 12.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-21-2023 01:08 PM


    I will echo some others that have suggested the CPA first, and for some similar reasons.  The first being that your employer holds this as an important certification for you to achieve.  I earned mine during the first year of employment at an international firm (non-big 4), and it comes with benefits at work.

    At my next employer I earned my CMA (three years later), and will note that the testing is more in depth on managerial accounting, but less broad based.  Thus taking the CPA a bit closer to those high level accounting courses might be better.

    I wish you luck in your endeavors, whichever way and timing you choose to take the exams.  Both certifications are good to have (IMHO).

    Justin Baldwin-Bonney CMA, CPA
    Spokane WA
    United States

  • 13.  RE: Pursuing both CMA and CPA

    Posted 09-22-2023 10:37 AM

    I never really wanted to be a CPA because I hate tax (and think it should just go away), auditing is not appealing, I value management accounting over financial accounting, and I don't like being public facing. However, I wound up working in public for two years, and the partners wanted me to take the CPA exam. So I did. I studied by putting the Delaney manual under my pillow at night and conditioned by passing all but LPR the first time.

    Instead, what I wanted was the CMA ever since I discovered it in the back of the Charles T. Horngren cost accounting text. I was still a master's student when the IMA announced "2000 in 2000," the program to add 2,000 new CMAs and CFMs by the year 2000. This allowed me to sit for free. Since I had already passed the CPA exam, I could waive Part 2 (if memory serves), but I would have to pay the waiver fee. I chose to sit for four hours to save $40 (I think it was). Since I waited almost until the offer expired, I found that I could not take all five parts of both CMA and CFM exams locally, so I had to drive 75 miles over the lunch break to take one in one city in the morning and the other in another city in the afternoon. I passed all five parts over a three-day period without any exam prep.

    My teacher wife says that I test well. :-)

    L. Douglas Coartney CMA, CFM, CPA, CGMA
    Director of Finance
    SC2 INC
    Peoria IL
    United States