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If you’re a child of an Indian household who has grown up to take commerce, I am sure you would have heard this one dialogue from your family and relatives, “Do CA of course. It is the future and there is success in it.”
Well, that was when our resources were limited to the geographic boundaries of India and when there was no globalization. However, as we move forward, the line of geographical boundaries is no longer a hindrance, and we have access to all information around the globe at our fingertips. There are so many alternative courses to CA available today, which are a lot less emotionally, mentally, and physically draining but equally if not more valuable. One such certification is CMA USA.
CMA USA, or Certified Management Accountant, is a professional certification issued by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), USA.
The course is aimed to provide its candidates with strategic thinking, and real-life and applied work experience. It also provides them the ability to analyze and interpret financial data.
CMA USA helps close the skills gap and gain a competitive advantage over other non-CMA employees. CMA holders hold executive positions like financial analyst, risk manager, investment office, financial officer etcetera.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), is an Indian organization that certifies the Chartered Accountants (CA) degree in India. A Chartered Accountant is the one who would typically manage an organization’s funds. Apart from budgeting, they also handle auditing, taxation, business strategy, etcetera.
CA has been proven to be one of India’s most challenging, if not the toughest exam. With unbelievably low pass rates and hectic schedules for more than 3 years.
If you are confused between CMA US and CA, this article will help you solve your problem!
CA has three levels- CA Inter, CA Intermediate, and CA Finals. The levels have four, seven, and eight subjects respectively and each subject, under each level, is worth 100 marks. And, every level has two groups under them.
CMA USA is a two-part exam. There are two exams, Part I and Part II. Each part has six subjects under them and there is a certain weightage each subject has on the whole exam. The subjects under each part are not attempted separately, unlike CA.
The number of levels in a CA course is a lot more than in a CMA USA certification.
The CA exams have a mix of MCQs and Descriptive Questions in each paper. The MCQ’s are worth 30 marks and the descriptive questions are worth 70 marks. Every paper under every level of every group has a different time duration. It usually lies between 4 and 2 hours.
The exam structure of CMA USA is much simpler. It has only two levels for starters, which reduces the confusion and stress to prepare by a considerable margin. The paper is also dominated by the MCQs, which means that if your answers are correct, there is no way anybody could ever stop you from passing.
With descriptive answers, the need for examination evaluators arises and with human involvement in the correction of paper, the bias may occur.
CA examinations are held twice a year for all the levels, in May and then in November. It takes around two months after the exams for the results to be posted.
One can attempt the CMA USA examination in the months of January-February, May-June, and September-October; and the exam results are announced after six weeks from the month of the exam.
A CA course takes a minimum of 5 years to be completed, provided all the exams are passed on the first try. These 5 years include 3 years of Articleship to gain work experience with the course.
CMA USA certification can be completed within 8-10 months, i.e., a candidate has 1.5 years to complete the Part II exam once they pass Part I. On average, a candidate takes 6-10 months to pass both levels.
Chartered Accountancy certification, awarded by the ICAI, is recognized only in India. The course undoubtedly provides very in-depth knowledge of the subjects as it spans a long period of work experience. This in-depth knowledge is given in terms of Indian accounting standards and hence, will not be helpful in other countries.
ICAI has MoUs with very few countries where Indian CA is accepted. Otherwise, someone with the Indian CA has to complete the CPA (Charter Public Accountant) certification of the particular country to practice the profession. They get certain exemptions in the examinations if they already hold the degree.
Whereas, CMA, is a globally recognized course that can be practiced in various countries. CMA charter holders are also actively sought after by the big Multinational Corporations. It is effortless to get a job in another country with a CMA certification.
It is not possible to calculate how much time is spent preparing for the CA exams. Students usually spend the day in and day out preparing for the exams and fall short and do not get through. But for CMA, the recommended amount of time spent studying is 150 hours per part.
CA preparation needs full-time attention, i.e., candidates usually pursue CA as full-time students and do not do it side by side with other commitments. Whereas, CMA is a kind of course that can be pursued while working full time. This is a huge difference in both the courses. Both are so similar, but one requires full-time attention and can be done simultaneously with other things running.
CA has absurdly low pass rates. CA Finals has a pass percentage of 6% for those candidates who got through both the groups under the exam. CMA has a pass percentage of 45%. The pass percentage disparity is huge among both courses. CA has unbelievable cutoffs, where students try multiple times before passing the exams. It is infrequent for students to have cleared all groups, all exams, and all levels. But it is very much possible to get through both the parts in CMA on the first attempt. With right training and dedicated study hours.
In India, a fresher CMA USA can earn up to 4 to 6 lakhs. They can work in Financial Reporting and Strategy, Cost Accountant, Budgeting, Finance Controller, CFO, etc. The average salary in foreign countries is much higher and is in the range of 55,000-60,000$. On the other hand, a fresher CA can earn around 6-8 lakhs on average. They may work in Auditing, Taxation, Cost Accountancy, etc. However, the salaries may vary depending upon skills, abilities, and other qualifications.
|Full form||Charted Accountant||Certified Charted Accountant|
|Duration||4-5 years||6-9 months|
|Exam||20 papers with 3 levels of exam||2 papers with Single level of exam|
|Course time investment||Needs full-time attention||150 hours per part.|
|Exam dates||twice a year in May and November.||Thrice in the year during the months of January-February, May-June, and September-October|
|Salary||A fresher CMA USA can earn up to 4 to 6 lakhs||A fresher CA can earn around 6-8 lakhs|
The article highlights the benefits of CMA USA in India, but this does not mean that CA is the wrong course or CMA is the better one. It may be so that CA has been given a lot of importance in India when a lot of other courses which open many doors have gone unnoticed. It depends on every individual which path they want to pursue to suit their needs and wants. Choose wisely and study hard no matter which course it is. If you are still confused then you can always contact the experts at NorthStar Academy who can help you make the right decision.