How long does it take to become a CMA?

How long does it take to become a CMA?

The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation offered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) is a prestigious certification that can open up numerous opportunities in the field of management accounting. This qualification is highly regarded in the business world and is a testament to a candidate’s expertise in financial management, strategic planning, and decision-making. If you’re considering pursuing a CMA designation, you may be wondering how long it takes to achieve this significant milestone. In this blog post, we will explore the journey to becoming a CMA as well as what a CMA does.

What is a CMA and what do they do?

Before delving into the timeline for becoming a CMA, it’s essential to understand what a Certified Management Accountant does. CMAs are financial professionals who play a critical role in organisations by providing financial analysis, planning, and management expertise. They bridge the gap between financial data and business strategy, helping companies make informed decisions to achieve their financial objectives.

Some of the key responsibilities of CMAs include:

  1. Financial Planning and Analysis: CMAs are responsible for creating budgets, forecasting financial performance, and analysing variances between budgeted and actual results. They provide insights into cost reduction opportunities and revenue enhancement strategies.
  2. Cost Management: CMAs focus on cost control and management, helping organisations optimise their expenses while maintaining product quality and service levels.
  3. Risk Management: They assess and manage financial risks, ensuring that organisations are well-prepared for economic uncertainties and market fluctuations.
  4. Decision Support: CMAs assist senior management in making strategic decisions by providing financial analysis and modelling for various scenarios.
  5. Performance Measurement: They develop key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance dashboards to monitor the financial health and performance of the organisation.
  6. Compliance and Ethics: CMAs are often involved in ensuring that financial practices adhere to legal and ethical standards, including regulatory compliance.

Now that we have a clear understanding of the role of a CMA, let’s explore the timeline for achieving this designation.

Timeline for becoming a CMA

The journey to becoming a Certified Management Accountant typically involves several key steps, including education, examination, and professional experience. Here’s a breakdown of the timeline:

  1. Educational Requirements: To be eligible for the CMA certification, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. However, the IMA also accepts candidates with a relevant professional certification (e.g., CPA or ACCA) in place of a bachelor’s degree. The educational requirement is the first step in your journey.
  2. CMA Exam Preparation: The CMA exam consists of two parts: Part 1 (Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics) and Part 2 (Strategic Financial Management). To prepare for the exams, candidates often enroll in review courses, such as those offered by ExP. The duration of your exam preparation can vary depending on your prior knowledge and study habits. On average, candidates spend three to six months studying for each part of the exam.
  3. CMA Exam Registration and Taking the Exam: Once you feel adequately prepared, you can register for the CMA exam. The exams are offered during specified testing windows throughout the year. Candidates typically take one part at a time, and the exams are four hours each. So, if you pass both parts on your first attempt, this can be completed in one testing window.
  4. Professional Experience: After passing the CMA exam, you need to gain relevant professional experience. The IMA requires candidates to have at least two years of continuous work experience in management accounting or financial management. This experience can be acquired before or within seven years after passing the exam.
  5. CMA Certification: Once you’ve completed the educational requirements, passed both parts of the CMA exam, and gained the necessary work experience, you can apply for the CMA certification. The IMA will review your application and, upon approval, award you the CMA designation.

In summary therefore, the exams typically takes around 12 to 18 months. However, from the date you register for the exam, you have three years to earn your CMA Certification. If you don’t complete within 3 years you will have to re-register with IMA.

Benefits of ExP’s online CMA courses

As mentioned earlier, many candidates opt for review courses to prepare for the CMA exam effectively. ExP is a renowned provider of CMA exam preparation courses, and our online CMA courses offer you numerous benefits:

  1. Comprehensive Content: ExP’s CMA courses cover all the topics and concepts included in the CMA exam syllabus. They provide in-depth explanations and examples to ensure candidates have a thorough understanding of the material.
  2. Flexibility: Online courses from ExP are designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. You can access the course materials at your convenience and study at your own pace.
  3. Expert Instructors: ExP’s instructors are experienced professionals who have a deep understanding of the CMA exam content. They provide guidance and support throughout your exam preparation journey.
  4. Practice Exams and Questions: To excel in the CMA exam, practice is crucial. ExP offers a variety of practice questions and mock exams that simulate the actual exam environment, helping you assess your readiness.
  5. Personalised Study Plans: ExP’s courses offer personalised study plans to help you stay organized and on track with your exam preparation.

You can register for a free CMA demo course here.


Becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a significant achievement that can boost your career in management accounting. The timeline for achieving this designation includes educational requirements, exam preparation, taking the CMA exam, gaining professional experience, and applying for certification.

To enhance your chances of success in the CMA exam, many candidates choose to enroll in review courses. ExP’s CMA online courses offer a range of benefits, including comprehensive content, flexibility, expert instructors, practice exams, personalized study plans, and a passing guarantee.

Whether you’re just starting your journey or are already on your way to becoming a CMA, proper preparation and the right resources can make all the difference in achieving your career goals in management accounting.

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