A few decades ago, we lived in a time when commerce students had very few options to choose from and pursue post their undergraduate degrees. The traditional route would’ve been enrolling for a Chartered Accountancy certification or pursuing a Masters of Business Administration (MBA).
Long gone are those days when there were only a few career options. We now live in a world where physical distance is no more an obstacle. People are becoming aware of the various other opportunities available. But, another dilemma arises: the difficulty of which path to choose. More options, more time spent thinking about what to pick.
CMA USA has become one such course breaking traditional norms and progressing toward a holistic and global approach. It is a very tough contender to a conventional MBA program. This article should aid you in making an informed decision between CMA USA vs MBA and help you eliminate one of the two options.
MBA, or Masters of Business Administration, is one of the most popular and sought-after programs by business and management students. A business administrator oversees the daily general operations of a business organization. It is not uncommon to find C-suite executives holding this degree, which makes it very attractive to students. There are various departments in business organizations, and someone pursuing an MBA should know about all of them as they end up steering the company’s ship. Due to this very reason, it is why MBA degree holders end up at the top of the organizational hierarchy.
CMA USA is a credential awarded by the Institute of Management Accountants, USA, after passing the exams. CMA is a certification course that focuses on the Management Accounting and Finance department of an organization and not the overall operations of a firm. The syllabus is created for the candidates to excel in 12 critical areas in business finance. CMA is a relatively new course but is making huge strides in adding value to one’s resume, increasing the odds of promotions and pay hikes. Global firms look to hire candidates with a CMA degree.
MBA is a generalist master’s degree, i.e., it does not focus on any one specialization of the various areas of a business like finance, marketing, human resources, etcetera. MBA covers all the functions of a business organization and provides a wholesome view of all the areas of the firm’s possible activities. An MBA pursuer should also learn relevant soft skills and leadership skills as they are technically being trained to one day lead a team- big or small.
As the name suggests, CMA USA is a specialized degree in Management Accounting. A CMA USA certified would be someone who is involved in the financial decision-making of the company. The course includes Strategic Management, planning and control, technology and analytics, risk management and Internal Controls, Performance Management, etcetera.
To enroll in a good MBA program, one must take an entrance exam. There are various entrance exams for an MBA program depending on the university’s requirements. The various entrance exams are GMAT, CAT, SNAP, XAT, etc. Candidates need to put a lot of time and effort into the entrance exam, as receiving a high score is of utmost importance.
But there is no such entrance exam to enroll for a CMA USA certification. One needs to match the eligibility requirements to do the program. This includes :
Multiple MBA programs are available like full-time MBA, part-time MBA, executive MBA, and Online MBA.
A CMA USA is a two-part exam. An average candidate takes between 6 to 8 months to finish the certification. It is said that a minimum of 150 hours need to be spent on prep to pass each level. The pass rate of the program is relatively high.
An MBA graduate can fill various roles in consulting, marketing, finance, project management, etc. As mentioned before, MBA is a generalized degree, and the course offers specializations through its syllabus structure. This helps to train a student in multiple fields of business while focusing on one area in detail.
A US CMA will fill job roles like Chief Financial Officer, Financial Analyst, Financial Manager, Cost Accountant, Accounting Manager, etcetera. They are trained to read and analyze numbers and turn them into meaningful dialogues, which aid in decision-making. Their role is to decide various investment opportunities, the profitability of new projects, ways of financing assets/projects, etcetera.
An MBA program may cost you anywhere between Rs. 1,00,000 to Rs. 1 crore for a two-year program. The cost depends on which university you are receiving the degree from, the cost of living, moving to another city/country, etc. The higher ranked the university, the more challenging it is to get into it, but the better job opportunities from such universities.
CMA has a total monetary investment of $1,325, including exam fees, application fees, and IMA membership fees. The monetary investment is much lesser than what an MBA would cost.
Many institutions in India provide excellent MBA courses, but one shortfall is that they do not require work experience. Having work experience before pursuing the degree gives the student a different perspective of looking at things. CMA USA has made work experience compulsory to get the certification. This makes a huge difference in how candidates can be selected for various companies. CMA USA is also a globally accepted course, whereas MBA, even though recognized globally, the university from which you get the degree is what matters more.
CMA is a completely finance-focused course, whereas, as mentioned before, MBA is a general course with different specializations. An MBA in finance would give a candidate insights into finance while providing insight into other fields of a business. But, even with a finance specialization, doing a course wholly based on finance vs. doing a course that also teaches finance is entirely different. CMA is a better option if a candidate wants to be more clear that they want to pursue core finance.
There would be nothing better than to have both the qualifications under your name. It would be a great plan to pursue a CMA USA while working for experience before an MBA or bachelor’s degree. It is not uncommon to do a certification while working, as it does not require full-time attention. After the required work experience has been completed and the CMA qualification is received, an MBA can be pursued. This will make you unique and more attractive in the job market.
It was mentioned earlier that having an MBA opens up opportunities to reach the C-suite level, but that does not mean that a CMA USA does not add any value. A CMA USA holder is a trusted accountant and can easily get the top management, if not earlier than an MBA graduate. Another advantage of CMA USA is you can get opportunities to work abroad as it is a globally recognized certification, it also opens you up to a network of other CMA USA certification holders globally.
Both the courses MBA and CMA USA are exceptional and, moreover, relevant in today’s world. Candidates with either of the degrees are in high demand. It would be wise to choose either of the two, but which – well the answer depends on you and what suits your needs best. If you are interested in pursuing a globally recognized course in finance and management accounting within a shorter duration, then you can take the CMA USA course. You can enroll in NorthStar Academy’s Comprehensive CMA program through which you are bound to pass in one go
CMA USA is an internationally recognized professional designation, while the MBA is an academic degree. Though both are desired career goals in the accounts field, CMA USA is focused on management accounting while an MBA in Finance covers a much broader scope of finance units.
However, earning your CMA certification is almost always faster than completing an MBA. You can even take the CMA exam before finishing your undergraduate degree and then complete the certification process after gaining two years of experience in the field.