CMA USA vs CPA – Which should you choose in 2023?

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CMA USA vs CPA – Which should you choose in 2023?

The field of Finance and Accounting has taken the world by storm. To succeed in this field, it is necessary to keep oneself updated about market trends, prominent information, etc. 

Certifications like CMA USA vs CPA offer a deeper insight into the field of Finance and Management Accounting while ensuring that you are at the top of your field. If you want to become a CMA USA or CPA, you need to enroll in the best CMA USA coaching institute in India i.e NorthStar Academy to clear your CMA/CPA exam on the very first attempt.


Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is the highest management accounting certification that can boost your career in the Management Accounting and Financial Management fields. 

Through this CMA USA course, the candidate can create a financial strategy for planning, analysis, control, decision support, and professional ethics. 

Candidates may like to choose the CMA USA pathway because it covers different topics than the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. The CMA USA course is designed to give you the required edge for becoming the business leaders of tomorrow. 

Choosing CMA USA as a career option over CPA is a great idea since CMA USA Course offers overall knowledge and helps you scale on day-to-day activities, excellent professional credentials, and an excellent rate of absorption worldwide.  


Apart from CMA USA, the other option that candidates may have is the Certified Public Accountants or CPA. After passing the Uniform CPA Exam, they are licensed by their individual state’s board of accountancy, administered by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants).

CMA USA certification requirements are different from CPA provisions. A CPA candidate needs to enroll in the American Institute of CPA (AICPA) and pass a CPA exam, entailing a separate set of fees and exam requirements. CPA employees focus on jobs like auditing reports and preparing tax returns.

While both of these certifications are equally good and are valued in the field of accounting, it may be difficult for aspiring candidates to choose the best course for themselves. 


Administration Body:

The AICPA is an administrative body of CPA. The CPA license is granted to candidates by respective states or jurisdictions instead of a national or international body, creating a lot of confusion in the application process.

Whereas only the IMA or Institute of Management Accountants administers CMA USA. The IMA is a well-run organization with quick email responses providing candidates with clear instructions on preparing, studying, and successfully passing the CMA USA exam.

After getting the CMA USA certification, IMA provides everything – from free webinars (for CPE and self-learning) to a forum where members can exchange ideas and build networks. In comparison, CPAs have a Society of CPAs in each state, but the support is not very impressive.


To become a CPA, a candidate should have a Master’s degree which should be equal to 120 to 150 credit points. Whereas for CMA USA candidates can take the exam right after the 12th.To get the final CMA USA certification person should have a bachelor’s degree and two years of relevant work experience(In the field of Finance and Accounting). However, the best part about pursuing a CMA USA is that you can complete your graduation and work experience within 7 years of passing the CMA USA exam. 

This helps you save on time since you can begin to attempt the exam without graduating. 

On the other hand, the Indian students pursuing the US CPA course must have a bachelor’s degree and possess any of the following qualifications to sit for the exam :

  • Member of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants in India.
  • Member of the Company Secretaries in India
  • Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
  • Master of Commerce.
  • MBA/Mcom
  • Indian CAs with a Bcom.

Course Duration

CMA USA certification takes considerably less time of 6-9 months. The main advantage is that you can complete the CMA course without disturbing your current commitments for working professionals who wish to accelerate their career paths soon. The two parts of the US CMA exam are –

           Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

           Part 2: Strategic Financial Management

 CMA USA emphasizes skills like data reporting and critical decision-making. 

The main subjects covered in the CMA USA course include internal controls, cost management, decision planning, budgeting, performance management, analysis, professional ethics, financial statement analysis, etc.

The CPA certification may take at least a year and the candidate needs to write four papers to clear the CPA exam. This includes:

      A. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

      B. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

      C. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

      D. Regulation (REG)

Some of the main subjects covered as part of the CPA course include ethics & general principles, entity federal taxation, financial statement accounts, entity federal taxation, individual federal taxation, corporate governance, economic concepts & analysis, professional responsibilities, etc.

If a candidate is interested in studying auditing, taxation, reporting, and regulation, then they should choose CPA as a career. On the other hand, if one is interested in management, strategic analysis, and decision making, then CMA is a better choice.

Testing windows

The CPA exams have been switched to the Continuous Testing model that happens throughout the year. 

On the other hand, the CMA exams have three testing windows, as mentioned below:

Jan 01 – Feb 28, 2021

May 01 – Jun 30, 2021

Sep 01 – Oct 31, 2021

Difficulty Level and Application

The CPA pass rate is 50% and the CMA exam has a 45% pass rate. However, CMA USA deals more in higher-level concepts and business applications, while the CPA deals more with laws, governance, and technical components of accounting.

In the long run, it is believed that the knowledge gained from CMA USA is way more practical in the long run for professionals in their business life, while CPA is considered to be more theoretical. 

Fee Structure

Both CMA USA and CPA can be expensive however a CPA course is not just more time-consuming but also expensive. 

A CPA course requires around $4500, including the exam fees, application fees, licensing fees, and training fees. However, the fee structure may vary from state to state.

On the other hand, the CMA USA course costs $2000, including the entrance fee and the registration fee for each exam part and training fee. 

Cma Usa Vs Cpa Detailed Infographic

CMA USA Vs CPA Infographics

Professional Trajectory

CPA is best for professionals seeking to work in public accounting.

Public accounting typically includes:

  1. Accounting and tax services
  2. Auditing and other attestation services
  3. Consulting services

The CMA USA certification is more appropriate for professionals seeking work in Finance Analysts, Cost Controller, Corp Accountant, VP Finance, and can go up to CFO level. 

The common service areas of CMA USA include:

  • Performance management
  • Cost management
  • Risk management
  • Financial analysis
  • Decision-making support

A CPA can get roles like:

  • International accounting
  • Information and technology
  • General accounting
  • Tax accounting

Whereas a CMA USA can get roles like :

  • Financial analyst
  • Financial planner
  • Corporate controller
  • Chief Finance Officer

The salary after completing a CPA is around $119,000, whereas the salary of a CMA could go up to around $85,000. Source – Indeed

The jobs of both CMA USA and CPA are very lucrative however it is seen that CMAs usually earn higher, especially in the long run, because they enter into strategic roles. 

Since the CPA is a U.S. license, whereas the CMA is a globally recognized certification, it provides more global exposure to the students.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

The motive behind this training is to enforce the ideology of updating their knowledge with important information. This will ultimately result in the improvement of one’s ability to serve their client in the future. A CPA has to complete 40 hours of Continuing Education per year whereas a CMA USA has to complete 30 hours of Continuing Professional Education per year.

Frequently asked questions 

1. What is the passing score for the CMA USA exam?

The total score of the CMA USA exam is 500 marks. In order to pass, you need to score a minimum of 360 marks. 

2. Who is the best CMA USA online faculty?

M. Irfat sir has widely been acclaimed as the best mentor and has taught over 15,000 students worldwide. 

3. Which institute is the best for US CMA or CPA online classes?

NorthStar Academy is the best institute for US CMA and CPA online classes where all students have passed with flying colors

4. What is the passing rate for CPA?

As per trends, CPA has a passing rate of 50-54%

5. What does a CPA do?

A CPA is a professional designation, for accounting professionals sought for their industry knowledge, reliability, and credentials. They could do various roles like international accounting, tax accounting, etc.

6. Which is better – CMA or CPA?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. If you want to get into Finance and Managerial roles with the least investment and shorter duration, CMA USA is good to go.

7. Can I do CMA USA while doing the job?

Yes, you can do CMA USA while doing the job to get aligned with the industry-relevant trends and it also helps you to get good salary hikes compared to Non-CMAs.

8. Can I do both CMA USA and CPA courses together?

Yes, you can do both CMA USA and CPA courses together but you need to have eligibility to have overall 150 credit hours of studies.

9. Which course is better CMA USA or MBA?

CMA USA is a globally recognized short term course that improves your credibility to most of the Finance and Accounting jobs because you will learn industry-relevant topics where MBA course takes at least 2years to complete 

10. Is CMA USA difficult to pass for Indian students?

CMA USA exam contains only 2papers with 6-9months whereas other Indian course takes years to complete with more than 15 papers. I think CMA USA might become easy for Indian students to pass


The CMA USA and CPA have their unique benefits, and it’s not a matter of one credential being better than the other, but what matters most is which one is better for your career and building the life you want. To be able to clear your exam in a single attempt and become a CMA or CPA, you need reputed institutions like NorthStar Academy. So what are you waiting for, go enroll now!

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