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CMA Vs CFA : How To Choose One For Yourself?

CMA and CFA are two of the most well known professional qualifications which students wanting to become Accounting and Finance professionals choose to study.

cma vs cfa

These certifications increase their educational qualifications and skills and help them to get high salary and high growth jobs. However, the big question is, should you go for both CMA and CFA, or just one of them? Comparing between CMA vs CFA is not easy, so let me help you.

Many students face this problem of choosing CMA vs CFA, as you are not the only one facing this dilemma. Let us start by understanding these courses, and then we will compare CMA vs CFA.

About the CMA Program

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Certified Management Accountants (CMA) is a program that is made for the accountants who are working outside the CPA firms. The CMA degree enables people to work in various industries and corporate functions. The CMA certification is best suited for those who are interested in Cost and Management Accounting.

Once you earn the CMA certification, you can expect to get a highly rewarding career in various companies. The reason for this demand is that the CMAs are experts in finance and accounts related areas, and are highly skilled in practical applications. A recent survey by IMAs showed that the CMAs in the USA draw up to 28% more salary than other non-CMA employees.

About the CFA Program

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) course is for people who are interested in equity research, asset management, hedge funds and other types of investment management. In other words, if you are interested in becoming an investment analyst, or a portfolio manager, then this course is ideal for you.

A person who has a CFA degree earns a global and local recognition. You will also gain a very high credibility in the eyes of your employers, clients as well as the colleagues. Moreover, by earning a CFA degree, you can join the elite global network of 10,000 CFA professionals.

How different are the two courses?

The CFA and CMA course are very different from each other and will lead you to two very different career paths. One is not an extension of the other at all. So while choosing CMA vs CFA, you need to first get a clear idea about which type of career you should be targeting. This will help you to build a career in the field of your choice.

Ideally, you should take this decision when you are in college, i.e. When you are yet to complete your graduation. This is the juncture at which most students start to look for the best career options, and you should also take the decision based on your personality and ambitions. This choice between CMA vs CFA will make you future ready.

CMA or CFA – Which is better?

Time duration:  

The CMA exam consists of two parts and IMA allows the candidates 3 years to complete the exams. However, many students complete this much earlier, even within one year. On the other hand, though it is possible to become a CFA within 2 years, most students take 3 to 4 years to complete it.

This is why many people choose the CMA certification. The CMA certification has fewer exam sections and exam paper is also manageable. While comparing CMA vs CFA, people find CMA to be easier.

Flexibility in scheduling the exams:

Candidates who are appearing for the CMA exams have the flexibility to appear on any day within the testing window where is available for 6 months in a year. As the CMA examinations are 100% computerised, candidates have the flexibility to complete their examination quickly and according to the schedule of their choice.

On the other hand, the CFA exams do not have very flexible exam dates. The reason being that the exams are held only twice a year for the first level and only once a year for the second and third levels. This is restrictive, since if you miss one session, then you will have to wait for 6 months to appear for the exam again. Thus it is not very convenient for the candidates for appearing for the CFA exams.

Relevance in terms of job prospects:

In terms of job prospects, all companies need accounting professionals while some need finance professionals. So in terms of relevance in the job area, the CMA certification has high demand as compared to the CFA certification. CFA qualification is for the equity research and is held recognised among industries dealing with asset management and funds. If you intend to be an accounting professional and keep your job options broader, then your choice should be CMA.

However, CFAs are known to get very high positions in different companies, since they have a very niche knowledge. They grow fast and command very attractive salaries. If you want to get the prestige associated with working in world renowned companies in places like Wall Street in the USA, then CFA should be your choice.

Few Important Links for CMA Students

About CMA CourseCMA Foundation Syllabus CMA Inter New SyllabusCMA Final New Syllabus
CMA Inter Study MaterialCMA Foundation Study MaterialCMA Final Study MaterialBest Books for CMA Final

You can watch a few demo lectures by SuperProfs for CMAand see if you would want to consider subscribing to our video series for a better shot at clearing the CMA examination.

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CMA Inter Reference Books – Best Suggested Books

CMA Inter Important Questions | Topics | Chapters