The persistent ongoing education in accord with the continually transposing field of accounting, can be a beneficial venture to thrive successfully in the present -day workplaces. Due to this, uplifting and upgrading one’s own accounting acumen through an advanced professional certification is a key element to be considered by an ambitious budding accountant.
Nowadays, many accountants are keen to opt dual advanced certifications in the financial and accounting arena. Pursuing one or more advanced certifications can assist one by asserting security and aegis during future uncertain economic turmoil, if any. This is largely because of having a larger professional skill set, thus, providing multifaceted experience.
Henceforth, having a dual professional accounting certification- particularly, obtaining both US CPA and US CMA certification—can widen the knowledge, concepts and skills of accounting in a higher order of magnitude. This ultimately help to enhance the marketability of such dual degree holders than their counterparts providing many other benefits too.
A. The Dual Certifications and Careers
Upon obtaining the basic academic degree in accounting and/or some work experience in the accounting sector, one can think of pursuing US Certified Public Accountant (US CPA) and/or US CMA (US Certified Management Accountant) certification.
Both US CMA course and CPA US course have immense value addition potential to elevate the career towards an unseen horizon. In this context, it has to be noted that both these credentials follow unique career paths and are focused on different core areas of accounting which are as follows :
A.1 US CMA Course
The US CMA certification is more attentively focused in the area of management and cost accounting, in comparison to the US CPA. US CMA course certification aspirant is more likely to look into analysis, risk management and performance management. The US CMA can work in various capacities ranging from financial analyst to CFO. They often necessitate formulating major financial decisions for an organization.
A.2 CPA US Course
In comparison to CMA, the US CPA career path provides broader accounting training, as the US CPA Exam tests on skills touching many different areas of accounting, from auditing to taxation.
CPAs can work in public/private sectors or can indulge into independent practices. Some CPA US course career paths include working as an auditor or tax preparer.
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B. The US CPA- US CMA overlapping
Based on the basic accounting concepts and the skills achieved at ground zero, continuing accounting education has a major benefit . It enhance and develop the skills already acquired and applied in the workplace.
Both US CPA and US CMA course enhances the depth of accounting subject matter knowledge. However, there are some important distinctions between the two.
More precisely, after passing the US CPA Exam, there remains the licensing procedures. The US CMA, on the other hand, requires membership in the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants).
The intent of CPA involves more accounting-specific training, a CMA deals more with financial accounting as well as asset and performance management. Apart from the differences, there are several parameters where both the certifications overlap and go in a conjoint fashion.
C. Academic requirements
Despite slight variations, a bachelor’s degree is usually required to be eligible to write the US CPA Exam. On the contrary, one can write and pass the US CMA Exam during the course of completing the bachelor’s or master’s degree and have yet to graduate.
It is noted that one is required to have completed a bachelor’s degree to become US CPA and fully certified US CMA. Many aspirants opt to start studying for the exams while they are still pursuing the graduation.
D. Professional experience
Professional accounting experience is required for completion of both the certification processes. For instance, two continuous years of full-time work or four years of part-time work is required to become a certified US CMA.
Becoming a fully licensed CPA requires varying professional experience as mentioned by respective state jurisdictions, typically asking candidates to complete a certain amount of work that is overseen by another licensed CPA. Advantageously, the required work experience used to meet IS CPA eligibility criteria is also applicable to fulfil CMA requirements-a boon for saving time if one wants to pursue both CPA and CMA simultaneously.
E. US CPA and US CMA exams
Both the US CMA and CPA certifications involve separate online exams. In case, one decides to go for dual certification simultaneously, there’s some overlapping content in the exams in areas like financial reporting, internal controls etc.
The US CMA Exam consists of two parts that must be completed within three years of each other:
1. Part 1 :- Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
2. Part 2 :- Strategic Financial Management
On the other hand, US CPA Exam has four parts to be over a span of 18 months.
The CPA exam syllabus includes
1. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
2. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
3. Regulation (REG)
4. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
Topics on external financial reporting decisions on the CMA Exam are similar to the financial accounting basics covered in the FAR section of CPA. It is noteworthy that the CMA Exam tests these topics in more depth than CPA. Studying for one of these exams can help to apprehend the content for the other exam in a much better way.
F. Role of Continuing Professional Education(CPE)
Upon clearing the dual exam, next comes the question of sustaining the status of CPA and CMA. For this, one is required to accomplish annual continuing professional education, or CPE credits from classes, seminars, webinars or any other appropriate formats.
The purpose of CPE is to keep the acuity of an accountant intense, up to date and at par with the changing industry demands. Several CPE courses are available which include topics that are applicable to both CMA and CPA to meet up the requirements of both CMA/CPA credentials.
Both the CPA and CMA credentials require down payments, which include application and exam fees, as well as exam preparation fees. In addition, the CMA also requires IMA membership fees but offers discounts to students and other applicable groups.
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The US CPA and US CMA both require monetary investment where CPA is little bit costlier than CMA, but the cost incurred is considered to be well worth in terms of returns, hence the cost here can be considered as investment rather.
H. Importance of Dual certifications
Taking cue from the concept that spending money on pursuing both CMA and CPA is an investment rather than expenditure in an accountant’s career, having both a CPA and US CMA may benefit and boost career hankerings in various ways.
Being dual certification holders, the employers may consider such a candidate as more qualified and appropriate for higher-level senior positions. This is because a top personnel at firms often pursue both credentials.
If you’re hoping for upliftment on the career ladder, having double certification can set you apart from other candidates who possess single certification but are applying for the same role, whether internally at your company or for a new role. Thus, having a dual certification i.e., CMA and CPA can help you stand apart from the rest in its own capacity.
Obtaining dual designations indicates that the holder has commitment as well as strong motivation to the accounting profession and is fervent to acquire new updated knowledge and skill at work. The dual certification imparts more expertise than a traditional accounting role requires, and having both CPA and CMA can give one that extra authority to be considered for the coveted roles such as CEOs or CFOs etc.
As narrated above, US CMA and US CPA are advanced professional accounting certifications which are globally recognized and are considered as highly esteemed dragging reputation from colleagues and peers in the accounting fraternity.
Combination of US CMA and CPA is recognized as expertise of everything of entry level accounting with global acknowledgement of specialized expertise on hardcore auditing to strategic management accounting which open the door to international opportunities.
Professional network will be keen to focus on such dual certification holders who by virtue of their acclaimed qualification obtained the required versatility to apply the upgraded skill and knowledge to implement decisions in any area of accounting at par with the globalization and the changing pattern of economy.
In conclusion, it can be stated that having dual credentials by earning US CMA and CPA simultaneously is rated as an extreme level of proficiency in the global accounting fraternity that provides versatility, greater earning potential, help attaining top level of corporate hierarchy, and so on. After going through this article, if you wanna kickstart your journey in either of this accounting career separately or simultaneously, Uplift Professionals is ready to help you to achieve your dream.
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