Candidates for the Certified Information Systems Auditor certification sometimes need to reschedule the CISA exam. After all, things in life can come up and derail your plans. But as long as you’re still within your eligibility period to take the CISA exam, you can reschedule it with just a few easy steps.
Reasons to Reschedule a CISA Exam
After you have registered to take the CISA exam, paid the CISA fees, and scheduled your exam appointment, you might have to reschedule. But don’t fret, because the process to reschedule a CISA exam is easy.
Furthermore, the ISACA doesn’t ask about the reasons for rescheduling a CISA exam. That is, you can reschedule for sickness, work or personal conflicts, or even because you don’t feel ready. However, you do need to keep these restrictions in mind:
You must reschedule your CISA exam at least 48 hours before your originally scheduled test appointment. Otherwise, if you reschedule less than 48 hours in advance, you’ll forfeit your registration fees. And then, you’ll have to pay those fees again to re-register for a new exam date.
Can you cancel a CISA exam?
Technically, ISACA doesn’t allow candidates to cancel a CISA exam. However, you CAN log into your ISACA profile and cancel your scheduled exam. But if you don’t immediately reschedule a new date within your 365-day eligibility period, you won’t receive a refund of your registration fees.
CISA Exam Dates
Before going over the steps to reschedule the CISA exam, though, let’s review the CISA exam dates. After all, if you’re going through the effort of an ISACA CISA exam reschedule, you’ll first need a new preferred exam date.
In the past, the CISA exam was only given 3 times every year. But just like many other certification exams, candidates can now take the CISA exam at any time thanks to online proctoring. However, in-person exams are still available at testing centers around the globe, too.
Scheduling your CISA exam
One of our partner sites has an entire article about CISA exam dates, but here’s a summary:
All in-person testing is coordinated through the company PSI Exams. If you go to the PSI Exams website, you can find testing centers near you. And then, you can select from the dates and times available at your chosen testing center.
However, if you prefer the convenience of online proctoring from your home or workplace, you’ll schedule your exam date from your online ISACA profile.
How to Reschedule the CISA Exam
To cancel and then reschedule the CISA exam, just follow these steps:
Second, click on the tab for “Certifications and CPE Management.”
Then find your scheduled CISA exam date and click the “View Details” button.
Finally, on the next screen, click the button for either “Reschedule” or “Cancel Schedule.” From there, simply follow the prompts.
And after you cancel your exam appointment, you can also reschedule a new one, if needed. On the final screen, before you log out, you’ll find a “Schedule Exam” button. Once you click it, the platform will lead you through the process of selecting a new CISA exam date.
Most importantly, just keep in mind that in order to reschedule a CISA exam, you first must cancel your existing one. Of course, you must select a date that is still within your 365-day eligibility period.
CISA Reschedule Fees
Good news: If you reschedule your CISA exam within your 365-day eligibility period, then you don’t need to pay any additional reschedule fees. On the other hand, your pocketbook could be impacted for the following reasons:
If you cancel your CISA exam and don’t reschedule it during your 365-day period, you’ll lose your registration fees. And then, if you decide later that you want to sit for the CISA exam, you’ll have to repay those registration fees.
Furthermore, if you don’t reschedule within at least 48 hours in advance of your existing CISA exam date, you’ll also lose your registration fees.
And if you just flat-out cancel (without rescheduling), you won’t receive any sort of refund on fees you’ve already paid. That is, all CISA exam fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
How to Avoid Rescheduling Your CISA Exam
In the end, CISA candidates often reschedule their exams because they don’t feel prepared. And oftentimes, they don’t feel confident because they haven’t used the right tools to study.
Subsequently, the best way to prep for the CISA exam is to use a comprehensive CISA course. This way, you’ll feel confident that you’ve studied the right information to get a passing CISA score. For example, our top two picks for CISA review are Certified Information Security and Surgent CISA.
CISA exam review
First of all, CISA SuperReview Certified Information Security from expert Allen Keele is a popular option. To start, it’s the only full CISA review course with video lectures. Furthermore, it includes over 900 practice questions and full-length timed exam simulations. And even more importantly, Allen provides all content support himself. In fact, users even have access to one-on-one telephone mentoring with Allen. That kind of personal support can be critical to help you pass the CISA exam.
Of course, Surgent CISA Review is another good choice for CISA review. This top-notch course comes complete with over 975 questions with answer explanations, textbooks aligned to the CISA content specification outlines, and unlimited practice exams. Plus, the courses use adaptive learning technology to help you study more efficiently. What’s more, Surgent’s proprietary ReadySCORE feedback lets you know when you’re ready to pass based on your practice exam performance.
So if you need to reschedule the CISA exam, don’t worry. As long as you’re still within your 365-day period of eligibility, you just need to reschedule within your online ISACA dashboard. And if you’re rescheduling because you’re not ready to take the exam yet, find some help from the best CISA review courses.
When it comes to starting an accounting career, we’ve looked at Big 4 vs. small firms. However, those aren’t your only choices. Mid-tier accounting firms have a lot to offer, both in terms of salary and work-life balance. Additionally, according to the Australian Financial Review, mid-level accounting firms have been growing faster than the Big 4 recently.
Life at Mid-Tier Accounting Firms
Not all mid-market accounting firms are the same. For example, working at RSM, BDO, or Grant Thornton will be quite a bit different from working at a firm with 1,500 employees. However, there are some commonalities to these jobs.
Before we get into details, it’s good to know what is considered a medium-sized firm in accounting. Essentially, the Big 4 are the top-tier firms in terms of size and revenue, and they’re in a field all their own. According to Accounting Today, the smallest of the Big 4, KPMG, had 35,736 employees as of 2019. RSM, the next-largest US firm, had only 9,670 – about a quarter of KPMG’s size.
Thus, you could classify the largest mid-size accounting firms as those with fewer than 10,000 employees. They also offer international services, but on a smaller scale than the Big 4. Additionally, they span multiple geographic regions and work with middle-market companies. If we consider the top 20 or so US firms beneath the Big 4 to be mid-tier, these are firms with between 1,000 and 10,000 employees.
On the smaller end, regional accounting firms typically operate out of one or two regions, though they may have multiple locations throughout that region. Below that are boutique and local firms. So, essentially, medium-size accounting firms are smaller than the Big 4 but larger than regional firms.
Since larger companies have more resources and tend to pay higher salaries, it makes sense that the average starting salary at a mid-tier accounting firm is less than a Big 4 but more than a small firm. You’ll typically start between $48,000 and $66,000 a year. As a junior CPA with 1-3 years of experience, you can expect to make between $57,000 and $81,000 a year. At a senior level with 4-6 years of experience, your salary will usually fall between $70,000 and $100,000. Finally, as a manager or director, you can expect to earn between $85,000 and $122,000 at a mid-tier firm.
Here’s a more specific breakdown of mid-tier accounting firm salaries by job title from Robert Half’s 2021 Salary Guide. Unfortunately, the guide no longer breaks down salary by firm size, but these represent the 50th to 75th percentile, which is about where mid-tier firms fall.
As for a medium accounting firm partner salary, that will once again vary based on the size of the mid-tier firm, but it typically ranges from $200,000 to $800,000 a year. In contrast, the typical partner salary of a small firm of 10-50 people is closer to $140,000-$150,000 a year. At the Big 4, however, partner salaries start around $300,000 for the first year and can go as high as $3,000,000 after a decade or more. Once again, a partner salary at a mid-sized accounting firm lies somewhere between the small firms and the Big 4.
Type of Work
It’s no surprise that the biggest international clients and richest individuals go to Big 4 firms for their accounting needs. Thus, you’ll work with slightly smaller clients at mid-tier firms, though they still may be international companies. Additionally, since fewer employees are at a mid-tier firm, you’ll be called on to fill more roles and thus gain a broader range of experience. These firms have fewer resources than the Big 4, so there’s less streamlining and systematization of work processes. Also, you may work with older technology or software.
The trade-off for the smaller salaries at mid-tier accounting firms is that you’ll work fewer hours than you would at a Big 4 firm. Indeed, many people choose to leave the Big 4 to find a better work-life balance. You’ll still work longer hours when it comes to busy season, but during the rest of the year, the hours are closer to 9-5. There’s a substantial difference between the normal working hours at a mid to large accounting firm vs. Big 4.
If small firms feel like families, Big 4 firms can feel like huge, cold corporate entities. A mid-tier firm is a good compromise. It won’t feel small enough to be claustrophobic, nor is it large enough for you to get lost. You’ll know and develop relationships with your co-workers, but you’ll also get to work with people outside your department.
Plus, employee turnover in medium-sized accounting firms is much lower than at the Big 4 since many people are temporarily working at the largest firms for the resume boost. There’s also the fact that advancement is so important at the Big 4 that it fosters a cut-throat environment. You’ll feel much less of that at a mid-tier firm.
Given the size of the Big 4, there are more opportunities for advancement there. However, there’s also the expectation that you’ll be more geographically mobile. That is, if the firm has a better job for you in another state or even another country, you’ll be expected to move there. Moreover, since the Big 4 have more partners than mid-tier firms, you stand a better chance of making partner there. However, you will also face fierce competition from your many fellow employees.
Overall, Big 4 firms are still unmatched when it comes to buffing up your resume. Smaller firms prefer to hire former Big 4 employees over those from mid-tier accounting firms. There’s a reason that medium-sized firms are sometimes called “second-tier.” That said, taking a job that doesn’t suit you just because it looks good on your resume isn’t the best career path for everyone.
Working For a Mid-Tier Accounting Firm: Pros and Cons
Ultimately, here’s what it boils down to when it comes to Big 4 vs. mid-tier firms.
Pros of Mid-Tier Accounting Firms
Better work-life balance. You’ll work less overtime, and you may not need to work nights and weekends outside of busy season.
Less pressure. While you’ll still be expected to produce high-quality work, there won’t be the same high-pressure environment you’d feel at the Big 4.
Decent salary. Although you won’t make quite as much as you would at the Big 4, you’ll still make a good salary compared to smaller firms, particularly as you advance.
Broader practical experience. You’ll work on a greater variety of things and stages in the auditing process, gaining good experience and helping you prepare to take the CPA Exam.
Cons of Mid-Tier Accounting Firms
Medium-range salary. Mid-tier firms make less revenue than the Big 4 and thus pay their employees less.
Less chance for specialization. At the Big 4, you may spend a great deal of time with a single client working on a single part of an audit, allowing you to specialize.
Less chance to make partner. Mid-tier firms have fewer partners and potentially more office politics, making advancement more challenging.
Fewer exit opportunities. A mid-tier firm, even a large one, doesn’t look quite as good on your resume as a Big 4 firm.
Mid-Tier Accounting Firms List
If we consider accounting mid-tier firms to be those with between 1,000 and 10,000 employees, here are the 20 firms that fit this bill. This data comes from Accounting Today’s 2019 list as ranked by revenue.
CBIZ & MHM
Dixon Hughes Goodman
Carr, Riggs & Ingram
Citrin Cooperman & Co.
So, why mid-tier over Big 4? Usually, it comes down to work-life balance. Most people who work at small to medium accounting firms do so because it allows them to spend more time with their families or pursue hobbies. However, a mid-tier firm will still provide a better salary and more opportunities than most small-sized firms. Your choice will come down to your career and lifestyle priorities.
What are the mid-tier accounting firms?
Generally speaking, the medium accounting firms size refers to the largest ten to twenty firms below the Big 4. RSM, BDO, and Grant Thornton are the largest and most well-known of these firms
Which are the best medium-sized accounting firms?
The best firm for you is, as always, the one with the work environment that suits your life and needs. You’ll have a different experience at, for example, Eide Bailly, which is headquartered in North Dakota, than you would at RSM, which is headquartered in Chicago. Finding medium-sized accounting firms is easy, so do some research into the firms’ corporate culture to decide which one is the best for you.
How many employees are there in a mid-size accounting firm?
Between 1,000 and 10,000 employees are working at a mid-tier accounting firm.
If you’re thinking of tackling the CMA exam, you should definitely consider a CMA review course. After all, the right materials will help you study better, which means you could study less in the long run. So in this article, I’ll give you some tips about finding the best CMA exam course for your learning style and budget.
Why You Need a CMA Exam Review Course
The IMA (or Institute of Management Accountants) grants the CMA credential, which is recognized around the world. Each year, the IMA releases the CMA exam pass rates, which tend to hover around 50%. Plus, the IMA estimates that most candidates spend at least 150-170 hours studying for each half of the 2-part CMA exam. What’s more, candidates who don’t study—or just as importantly, study with the wrong materials—often fail on their first exam attempt.
If you fail an exam part, you can re-take it. However, the re-take fees are substantial, so you want to avoid them. Therefore, you might as well save yourself some money upfront by studying with a CMA exam prep course. But with so many on the market, which should you choose?
To help you select the best CMA exam prep for your learning style, I’ve reviewed the most comprehensive packages from some of the top courses: Becker CMA, Gleim CMA, Hock CMA, Surgent CMA, and Wiley CMAexcel. And after this course comparison, I’ll share some tips on what to look for when selecting a CMA course.
Becker CMA: New CMA review course for 2021 (plus, new features in 2022)
Beckeris a well-known name in the accounting industry. After all, Becker has been helpingCPAandCMAcandidates pass their credential exams for decades. However, in the past, Becker partnered with a third-party provider who actually wrote all of Becker’s CMA materials. But now, Becker has completely revamped its CMA courses. And consequently, all of the Becker materials are written by the company’s team of accounting experts. Therefore, the new Becker CMA video lectures, textbooks, and test bank match the quality the industry has come to expect from Becker.
Specifically, theBecker CMA Review Procourse comes with unlimited access to 70 practice essays and 4,000+ MCQs. Plus, it also includes digital and printed textbooks, even though some providers are only giving PDFs these days. Of course, the course also has video lectures, all led by Becker’s expert instructors. Each video is short and only covers one topic, so you won’t have to sit through hours of dull lectures.
What’s more, Becker’s courses use adaptive software called Adaptive2U Technology by Sana Labs. In a nutshell, this software constantly accesses your performance as you answer MCQs. Next, the technology figures out what content you’ve mastered and probably don’t need to study anymore. But more importantly, it also pinpoints what topics need more practice. Then, it curates your lessons and directs you toward texts and videos that will strengthen your weak areas. Basically, this approach could help you study fewer hours.
Plus, Becker CMA Review Pro course gives you outstanding personalized support. In fact, it comes with five one-on-one virtual tutoring sessions with a Becker instructor. In addition, you can take Becker’s LiveOnline courses, too. And you can actually interact with your instructor and ask questions in real-time.
If you want more info, check out this review of Becker CMA on our sister site.
Gleim CMA: Quality materials for 40+ years
Gleim CMA has been helping accounting professionals pass their credential exams for over 40 years. And because of the value of their courses, it’s no wonder that so many candidates study with Gleim. For example, the Gleim CMA Premium Review includes 3,000+ practice MCQs and 167 sample essays, more than any other provider out there. Plus, you’ll also get 45+ hours of video lectures including the “Deep Dive” series, audio versions of many lectures, Gleim’s famous textbooks (print or digital), a personalized study planner, and access to your online materials until you pass the CMA exam. And when you take a Gleim mock exam, you’ll notice that the Gleim platform looks and feels just like the real CMA exam.
Gleim is another company that uses an e-learning system called SmartAdapt. Basically, it works by keeping track of your performance on practice questions and quizzes. As it monitors what content you’ve seemed to master, it will suggest content to study for the questions you’ve been missing, too.
Here’s one thing to note about Gleim: if you don’t already have a strong accounting background, you might be unfamiliar with some of the terms and concepts used in the Gleim course. So before you start to answer practice questions, just take some time to study first.
Hock: For international and US-based candidates alike
Hock CMA is popular with both international and US-based CMA candidates because of the high quality of its courses that are offered at a more affordable price point. Take the Hock CMA Review Complete package, for example. It’s a good value because it includes 3,500+ practice MCQs, 66 essay samples with answers, study texts (digital or hard copies), 4 practice exams, digital flashcards, 66 hours of video lectures, and even a personalized study planner. And just as importantly, the Hock CMA Review Complete package also gives you unlimited access to your online materials until you pass the exam. This way, you don’t need to repurchase your package if you happen to fail an exam part.
Plus, Hock’s guarantee should give you some peace of mind about purchasing a Hock course, too. According to Hock’s policy, if you work through most of the study material included in your course but still don’t pass one of your CMA exam sections, Hock will pay your exam re-take fees. I think that shows you that Hock has a lot of faith in their CMA courses.
Surgent: A popular course with e-learning software
And finally, you should also check out Surgent CMA Review. After all, Surgent comes highly rated from its previous users. If you go with the Surgent CMA Review Ultimate Pass package, you’ll receive 3,945+ MCQs that have detailed answer explanations, 65+ sample essays, full-length practice exams, flashcards, and 60+ hours of video lectures. What’s more, you’ll get free updates in case Surgent updates the study materials.
Surgent is a strong course for several reasons. First, Surgent’s lessons are bite-sized, meaning you can squeeze them into your busy life. Second, Surgent’s top courses come with access to virtual CMA coaching sessions, and that could be a big study boost.
And third, Surgent uses an award-winning e-learning platform called A.S.A.P. Technology. The software creates personalized study plans according to your anticipated exam date in combination with an analysis of your performance on practice questions. Basically, it works by directing your studies toward what content you don’t seem to know yet based on how you answer practice questions. And according to Surgent, this direction greatly reduces the number of hours their users spend studying for the CMA exam.
Wiley CMAexcel is a popular CMA study course because it is one of the IMA’s Strategic Partners. Basically, this means that the IMA trusts Wiley’s study material, so it might be right for you.
Wiley’s Platinum Review course includes plenty of study tools to keep you learning, like over 5,500 MCQs (multiple-choice questions), 16 sample essays, and 66 hours of instructional videos. Plus, you receive a personalized study planner, a mobile app, 800+ pages of study text available online, flashcards (digital or printed), and unlimited mock exams.
Moreover, Wiley breaks its courses into “Bite-Sized Lessons” that are designed to be short but effective. Wiley’s courses also use an e-learning Efficient Learning System. And what’s more, many candidates have crammed with Wiley’s “11th Hour Final Review” and found that it went over some of the exam’s hardest content right before their exam day.
And if you happen to fail the CMA Exam after studying with Wiley, the Partner Until You Pass Guarantee means that you won’t have to repay to keep studying with your Wiley course until you receive a better score.
It’s also worth mentioning that Wiley now uses an interactive learning platform, similar to many of today’s top CMA review courses. The FocusMe Technology monitors your performance as you work through the course and answer practice questions. Once it starts to learn what topics you need to study more, it will suggest study material and practice questions that will strengthen your weak content areas.
If you’re curious to learn how Wiley stacks up against Becker, the industry leader, check out this comparison of Wiley CMA vs. Becker CMA.
CMA Review Course Materials
Each CMA exam review company has developed slightly different learning tools, but they share a common goal. Simply put, they’re all designed to help you pass the CMA exam. But most courses include some sort of textbooks or study materials that are reinforced with video or audio lectures, practice questions, and other learning devices like flashcards.
However, the type of study materials and content delivery methods that work for you might not work for the next CMA candidate. Therefore, it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you begin to search for the CMA exam review course. After all, you don’t want to waste a lot of money on a course that ultimately just doesn’t work for how you learn.
Access length – make sure it’s long enough
Firstly, consider the access length of CMA exam courses. After all, most courses put the bulk of their material online, and you need a username and password to access them. Some courses only give you access for a limited amount of time – 12 or 18 months are common. So that means you can only study with your course during that timeframe.
When you first start to study for the CMA exam, 12 months might seem long enough. However, keep in mind that the CMA exam is actually given in two parts, so you’re essentially studying for two big exams and not just one. And most candidates spend hundreds of hours studying, which takes a while when you already have a job and other commitments. Plus, it’s inevitable that something in your personal or professional life will delay your studies for a bit. So really, it’s best to take a long-haul view of your study period.
So what happens if you purchase a course with only 12 months of access and you haven’t passed both parts of the CMA exam yet? Well, you’ll need to repurchase your course, and that’s a big expense.
Access until you pass
Therefore, I suggest purchasing a course with unlimited or “access until you pass,” meaning that your online login will be valid until you’ve passed the CMA exam. This type of unlimited access course can cost a little more upfront, but you could very well end up spending much less because you never have to repurchase your course materials.
Plus, an unlimited access course takes away the pressure of a ticking clock counting down the days until your CMA review package expires. And when you’re already under so much pressure, why not make this one thing a little easier on yourself?
Sample essay questions
Both Part 1 and Part 2 of the CMA exam includes essays and multiple-choice questions (or MCQs). Each essay is broken down into 2-7 smaller responses. Basically, you’re presented with a real-world scenario and then you’re asked to explain how you would respond and why.
Although some CMA candidates struggle with the essays, you can master them with practice. Therefore, look for a course with plenty of practice essay questions. And of course, make sure the essay samples have answer explanations, too.
MCQ test banks
Most CMA exam review providers refer to their collection of practice MCQs as “test banks.” The questions usually come from two places. First, the IMA writes new CMA exam questions each year and then releases the old ones as study material. CMA courses compile these previously released questions into their test banks. Or, some providers have CMA experts that write questions similar to what you’ll see on the exam.
The size and quality of a test bank are really important. To start, look for a course with thousands of MCQs. After all, one of the best ways to get ready for the exam is to practice with MCQs over and over until you start to ace them all. And if you only have a few hundred or even just one or two thousand questions, you’ll have to review the same questions. And that just doesn’t help you learn as quickly as you would if you had more MCQs at your disposal.
E-learning software and performance analytics
These days, e-learning software with performance tracking is taking over the education market. After all, you more often see e-learning in K-12 classrooms, so it’s not surprising that many CMA exam review courses are using similar platforms not. Besides, this kind of software can build a personalized learning experience that ultimately leads to few study hours.
But how do these courses work? Well, here’s a short outline of a typical scenario:
First, many courses that come with a personalized study planner will ask about your anticipated exam date and how many hours you can study each week. With this information, it starts to understand how much content you’ll need to cover each week as you study.
Second, you’ll take a diagnostic quiz or maybe even a series of quizzes of content that is likely to appear on the CMA exam. Then, the software analyzes your performance and builds a list of the content you’ve mastered (and therefore don’t need to study) and what you haven’t mastered (and need to focus on).
Next, the course will help you build your weekly studies based on your performance. For example, your course might suggest that you watch video lectures about a certain topic and reinforce your new knowledge with practice questions.
And finally, some courses even had predictive tools that show you what percentage of the CMA content you know, based on your practice question performance. Essentially, this type of feedback helps you understand when you’re ready to sit for the CMA exam.
Expert support and mentoring
Even if you’ve been in the accounting field for a while, you’ll probably have a question about the CMA exam content at some point. After all, the CMA exam is an “academic” one. That is, it tests you on material or nuanced details that you might not use in your daily practice.
Therefore, it’s useful to have access to accounting experts via your CMA exam review course when you need some help. However, review companies give you that help in different ways. Some have live (or live online) classes, so you can ask an instructor your question in real-time. Others have expert forums, and users post questions and receive a response in a certain time period.
Personalized study planners
The IMA’s Learning Outcome Statements is the official syllabus for the CMA exam. It’s fairly lengthy since the CMA exam is actually given in two parts. Therefore, it can be easy to look at the syllabus and feel overwhelmed with the amount of information that you’ll need to study.
However, that’s where a good personalized study planner comes in. A study planner will help you do just that…plan out your studies so that you’re guaranteed to cover all the material in time. The top courses include a customizable study planner, and I think they can be a big key to your overall success.
Video and audio lectures
If you’re like many candidates, you’ll do a lot of studying with video or audio lessons. Besides, after going through college, most of us learn through lecture formats. Plus, you can watch videos on your own time and take notes as you go alone to learn even more. So it’s important to focus on the quality of a course’s lectures before you purchase it.
But when it comes to CMA exam review courses, what exactly does “quality” look like? Well, the answer honestly depends on the user. However, here are some things to consider:
Video length. For example, do you like longer lectures that cover wide topics? Or do you prefer shorter lectures that take a deep dive look into topics?
Number of lecture hours. If you’re someone who enjoys learning from videos, make sure the course includes enough to cover all the content.
Level of engagement. Some instructors are super engaging and almost downright entertaining. But others are just not, and it can be a real struggle to stay awake and focus through a boring video.
Quality of the instruction. Of course, you have to be able to follow the course’s instructors. After all, what’s the point of watching a video if the information isn’t presented in a way that helps you understand a topic.
So since lectures are such a critical component of a review course, how will you know anything about the quality of the lectures? Well, most CMA exam review providers offer free trials. Therefore, I suggest signing up for a trial and taking a look at the videos before you make a final purchase.
Textbooks and other study materials
Of course, despite the availability of video lectures, most of us still study the old-fashioned way: by reading a book. Therefore, the quality of a course’s textbooks or study notes is important, too. Besides, a lot of people—myself included—like to study with books because they can highlight and take notes in the margin.
But don’t think that all CMA exam textbooks are equal. For example, some companies will send you hard copies. Others, though, only provide you with online texts or even just a PDF that you’ll have to print and bind yourself. So if you don’t like e-books, take note.
Mock exams are another critical component of a good CMA exam review course. After all, you won’t really know if you’re ready for the exam until you sit down and take a practice exam. And like the point I just made about textbooks, don’t’ assume that all providers have the same mock exams. They don’t. In fact, some are better than others. So what should you look for?
First, your mock exams should mimic the look and feel of the real CMA exam. Basically, the CMA exam review course interface should have the same functionality as the version you’ll see on exam day. This way, when you take the real one, it will feel like you’re just taking another practice exam—no sweat.
Plus, your practice exams should be full-length and timed. Why? Well, one of the biggest challenges of the CMA exam is the pacing of the questions. You can’t linger too long on any one question or you’ll run out of time to finish the exam. But if you practice the pacing, you’ll get used to carefully reading the question, selecting the correct answer, and moving on to the next question without hesitation.
Picking a CMA Course
In the end, how do you pick the CMA exam review course that will work for you? Consider these suggestions:
First, take note of your learning style. Do you like to watch classroom-style lectures on video? Or do you prefer taking notes in the margin of a textbook? Or do you like to quiz yourself with flashcards?
Second, when and where do you plan to study? Can you use an online-only course, or do you need access to offline materials, too? Will you need a mobile app or other tools to help you study on-the-go?
And finally, what’s your budget? Do you need a payment plan? And have you looked for promo codes and CMA course discounts? (Hint: keep reading for some discount links!)
A Few CMA Study Tips
Education researchers how most people learn best, and it’s really fairly straightforward. To maximize your study time, use this 1-2-3 punch: read, hear, and then engage with the materials.
But how do you do that with a self-study course? To begin, read the material in your textbook or study notes. Then, listen to that same material in a video or audio lecture. And finally, reinforce the content by interacting with it, either by answering practice questions, quizzing yourself with flashcards, taking a mock exam, or even engaging in a class discussion.
When you interact with content via these three methods (reading, hearing, and engaging), you learn the best.
Study at the time that’s best for you
The IMA claims that most candidates spend 150-170 hours studying for each part of the CMA exam. In sum, that’s more than 300 hours. And that’s just an average, so you could spend even more time getting ready for the big day.
Therefore, to maximize your efforts with your CMA exam review course, study at a time that’s best for you. Are you a morning person? If so, find a way to carve out some time to study every morning. Or are you a night owl and like to stay up after everyone else in the house has gone to bed? Conversely, will you be studying on-the-go with your online course?
Whatever works best for you, create a schedule and stick to it.
Budget Considerations for CMA Exam Prep
Of course, as with any big purchase, you might not be able to ignore your budget when you’re picking a CMA exam review course. Plus, you don’t want to waste valuable resources on a course that isn’t right for you.
However, don’t automatically dismiss a course because you initially think you can’t afford it. Instead, consider your CMA exam review course as an investment in your future and your career. After all, CMAs have better access to top job positions and higher salaries than their uncredentialled co-workers. So even if there is an up-front cost, it’s likely that you’ll make up for the cost of your course when you start to see better salaries.
In addition, I suggest purchasing the best course for you because you’re going to save yourself a lot of study time. And time is money, right?
Plus, many courses offer payment plans so you can spread out the cost over time. And of course, keep in mind that substantial discounts are often available. So even if you think you can’t afford a top course, you might be pleasantly surprised after you factor in a deep discount.
By now, you’ve probably noticed that some CMA review providers have comprehensive courses that include lots of different study tools like textbooks, flashcards or study notes, video or audio lectures, a test bank with thousands of practice questions, and maybe a mobile app. On the other hand, companies also sell so-called “supplements,” which are basically just components of their comprehensive courses that they are selling piecemeal. For instance, companies sometimes sell their test banks (collections of practice questions) or textbooks as stand-alone learning tools.
So which is better? Should you purchase a comprehensive course, which includes a lot more study materials but has a higher overall price? Or should you just buy one or two supplements and save yourself some cash?
It’s best to purchase a full course
Well, based on my personal experience, you’re better off purchasing the best full comprehensive CMA course that you can. And let me tell you why.
You need more than a supplement
First, supplements don’t have all of the tools that you really need to study. For example, let’s say that you pick up a textbook from one of the companies I’ve reviewed here. Even if you read it cover to cover, you still don’t have practice questions to challenge yourself. And you can’t take any mock exams when you think you’re ready to take the real exam. And even more importantly, you won’t have any sort of professional expert support at your fingertips when you get stuck with a study problem.
Access until you pass is best
Second, if you only purchase a supplement, you won’t be able to take advantage of a company’s access until you pass guarantee, if it has one. Moreover, you also won’t be able to get free updates to your material. That is, the content of the CMA exam syllabus can change from time to time. When that happens, CMA review companies will change their study materials. However, if you purchase a stand-alone supplement, chances are that you won’t get a free update if the exam content changes. And that means you could be studying with outdated material, wasting your time on material that won’t even appear on the exam.
More learning tools = more productive studying
Third, and perhaps most importantly, you won’t be studying at your prime if you only go with a supplement. Earlier in the article, do you remember when I mentioned that you learn best when you read, hear, and engage with content? Well, that’s why comprehensive CMA exam review courses come with textbooks and lectures and ways to apply your knowledge through taking practice questions, sitting for a mock exam, or even taking part in a live classroom discussion. But if you only purchase a supplement, you won’t be able to take full advantage of the quickest way to learn.
CMA Exam Review Courses: What’s the Best?
I hope this article has given you some thoughts to consider before you purchase a CMA exam review course. After all, it’s a big decision because the right course could help you pass the CMA exam on your first try.
But among five strong courses (Becker CMA, Wiley CMAexcel, Gleim CMA, Hock International, and Surgent CMA), is there a best? Well personally, if I had to pick a course for myself, I would go with Becker. Let me explain why. First, Becker has completely rewritten its CMA materials, and now they are better than ever. Second, the bite-sized videos are great for working professionals who don’t have a lot of time for long lectures. And third, Becker’s e-learning software directs your studies in such a way that you’ll probably need to study fewer hours.
Basically, Becker helps you study better, which means you’ll be better prepared for the big exam day.
If you want to become a CMA, it’s important to learn all the information you can before you begin. This will help you plan the steps that will be involved in preparing for and passing the exam, getting certified, and maintaining your certification over time. In this post, I’m going to give you a full how-to guide to help you get your CMA.
To take your accounting career to the next level, it all begins with getting your CMA, which stands for the Certified Management Accountant credential. This globally recognized certification sets you apart as a professional in the field. It’s granted by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and is therefore respected in the industry.
Your CMA certification will look great on job applications. Having a CMA will show that you did the work and invested the time and money to get your certification. You’ll have benefits and opportunities within the financial and accounting management fields to do things you wouldn’t have been able to do without the CMA. So in the long run, you’ll probably have access to better jobs that pay bigger salaries.
So, let’s look at how you can become a CMA in this complete guide.
What is a CMA?
First, let’s explore what a CMA actually is. CMA stands for Certified Management Accountant. Basically, it is a designation awarded to accountants who have passed the CMA exam and have met certain other qualifications. CMA-certified professionals usually work in financial planning and analysis positions such as budgeting and forecasting. Plus, some CMAs work in control and professional ethics.
A CMA may hold the title of a corporate accountant, cost accountant, management accountant, risk manager, financial strategist, FP&A manager, or a similar job title in this field.
What’s more, CMAs can leverage their unique skills to perform various tasks such as crunching numbers, preparing financial statements, arranging funding, and more. Usually, CMAs work within corporate finance teams in the public or private sectors of those companies. Or, CMAs can work with the government.
There are many opportunities available if you get your CMA. So, how do you do it?
Become a CMA – The Steps
Let’s look at the steps to achieving this certification. First, to get your CMA, you need to meet all of the qualification requirements. But to get started, the IMA has two basic qualifications you must meet to apply to the CMA program and eventually take the CMA exam. What’s more, after you pass the exam, you have education and experience requirements to meet, too.
Exam: Pass the 2-part CMA exam within 3 years of gaining admission into the CMA program
Education: Obtain either a bachelor’s degree or another qualifying accounting certification within 7 years of passing the CMA exam
Work: Gain 2 years of full-time work experience in management accounting or financial management
Ethics: Agree to the IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice when you apply for your CMA credential after meeting all other requirements
CPE: To keep your CMA certificate, you’ll need to gain at least 30 hours of continuing professional education each year
Let’s review each step in more detail.
Step 1: Joining the IMA
First, before you can start to tackle the exam, you need to join the IMA and be in good standing. While this does require an IMA membership fee, there are other benefits to it as well.
For example, the IMA membership can provide you with many opportunities through networking via the myIMA Network. Plus, it can give you the tools and information needed to help enhance your career as a CMA. For example, IMA members can access free continuing education courses and webinars. And even more, members also receive several monthly publications like Management Accountant Quarterly and Strategic Finance.
The IMA also has different types of memberships available. Therefore, what you pay will depend on your membership level. In fact, qualified students (6 credits or more per semester) will pay only $39 per year for their membership. Professionals, however, pay $245 for their annual IMA membership fees.
IMA Membership Fee
$245 – professionals
$39 – students
Step 2: Joining the CMA Program
Now, as mentioned above, you also have to join the CMA program. In a way, joining the program is like an application stating that you intend to become CMA certified. However, this step is different from joining the IMA. After all, you need to join both—the IMA and the CMA program.
The CMA program fee is not refundable. So, don’t join and pay until you are ready to take the CMA exam and you know this is what you are going for. Once you’ve made that decision, here are the fees for the CMA program:
CMA Program Fee
$250 – professionals
$188 – students
Next, after you are accepted into the CMA program, you will be required to sit for and pass the exam within 12 months. And then, you must complete the CMA program in its entirety within 3 years of enrolling.
Step 3: Take the CMA Exam
Next, after you join the IMA and the CMA program, you need to take the CMA exam. But first, you should study. After all, by studying, you can greatly increase your chances of passing the CMA exam parts on the first try. And in the long run, you’ll save time and money when getting your CMA. Besides, you have to pay to retake a failed section, so it pays to study.
A good study review course will help you pass the CMA on your first try. Investing in a quality CMA course is the best way to ensure you pass the exam. Plus, it will help you save money in re-take fees because you didn’t properly prepare. Several top-notch CMA courses are available, including Gleim CMA, Becker CMA Review, Surgent CMA, and the Hock CMA materials. NINJA CMA Review is another option, and it’s the only CMA study material that has a monthly subscription plan.
Although some up-front costs are involved, investing in the right study materials for your learning style could greatly help you in the long run. Additionally, you can save a lot of money with CMA course discounts (e.g., Becker CMA coupon), which are available on our partner site, IPasstheCMAExam.com.
Register for the CMA exam
When you have sufficiently studied and you’re ready to take the exam, you will need to register to take each part. However, keep in mind that your CMA exam fees are non-refundable. Therefore, be sure you pick your date and time carefully and don’t miss it.
The CMA exam is given in two parts. Moreover, you can register for, pay for, and take each exam part separately. Or, if you want, you can register for both parts at the same time. The exam fee for each part is:
CMA Exam Registration Fee (per part)
$415 – professionals (for a total of $830 for both parts)
$311 – students (or a total of $622 for both parts)
Two Parts of the CMA Exam
The two parts of the CMA exam are as follows:
Part 1 – Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
Part 2 – Strategic Financial Management
Each part contains 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs), which you will have 3 hours to complete. In addition, both parts include two essay questions that you have an hour to complete. Your final CMA score comes from both the MCQs (75%) and the essays (25%).
So in total, you have 4 hours to complete each part of the CMA exam. And while waiting for your CMA exam results, you can be sure to meet the education and work requirements. Afterward, you will be able to apply for your CMA credential.
Step 4: Meet the Educational Requirements for CMA
In order to get your CMA credential, you must have certain levels of education and work experience. Specifically, you need to meet the following educational requirements:
Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited post-secondary educational institute.
Meet the education requirements within 7 years of passing both parts of the CMA exam.
However, your degree does not have to specifically be in accounting. Of course, if you study accounting or a related field in college, passing the CMA exam could be a little easier.
In addition, you may take the exam before you complete your degree if you are registered for at least 6 credits per semester (as an active student). But keep in mind that once you start the CMA program, you need to finish the program—and meet all of the requirements like getting your degree—within 3 years. Therefore, you should plan to enter the CMA program until you have at least part of your bachelor’s degree finished.
What’s more, it’s also possible to qualify for an education exemption if you already have certain other approved professional certificates. The IMA has a complete list of qualifying credentials online. However, the list includes the CA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the CPA from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, the CFA from the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute, and the CIA from the Institute of Internal Auditors, among others.
Furthermore, you will need to request an original transcript or an official letter from your qualifying organization. Then, you should have it sent to the IMA for review and approval of the educational requirements.
Step 5: Meeting the Work Requirement
In addition to passing the 2-part CMA exam and meeting the education requirement, you must also gain some practical experience before obtaining your CMA certificate. Specifically, you need:
2 years of continuous full-time work in management accounting and/or financial management
Or, you can substitute 4 continuous years of part-time experience
Plus, you need to gain this experience within 7 years of passing the CMA exam.
Step 6: Maintain Your CMA Credential
Once you have completed all of these steps, you can apply for your CMA certification. However, it’s also important to know the requirements to keep your credential active. In fact, the IMA expects all CMA holders to gain annual CPE, or continuing professional education.
To do this, you first must:
Pay your IMA Membership fee to make sure your IMA membership remains active
Pay your annual CMA maintenance fee
Next, you should meet these continuing education requirements:
30 hours of continuing education per year
2 of these 30 hours must be in the area of ethics and comply with the IMA Statement of Ethics for practitioners
Therefore, as you can see, the process to get your CMA certification involves many steps. However, they are fairly straightforward. This highly respected credential could help you gain an edge over the competition in a very prolific field. While it will take a hefty investment of money and time to achieve your certification, you can easily see that the benefits are very much worth it.
Having your CMA certification puts you in a great position for better jobs and higher-paying positions. Are you ready to get your CMA? If so, check out this free CMA course from our partner site.
In this comprehensive chart, I've compared the best CPA review courses in the industry. I have firsthand experience with these courses, so I'm sure that one of them will work for you. So, you can use this page to explore the features of CPA review courses and get more information about the best CPA Exam prep solution for you. With these specifics, you can choose the course that accommodates your learning style. And if you study in the right way, you won't have to worry about your CPA Exam score release date.
Disclosure: The I Pass Team may earn a small amount of compensation if you purchase CPA review courses from our links; however, our team uses these revenues to maintain the site and produce awesome free content just for you!
Disclosure: The Accounting Resume Team may earn a small amount of compensation if you purchase from our links; our team uses these revenues to maintain the site and produce awesome free content just for you!
Best CMA Review Courses, CMA Discounts & CMA Exam Promo Codes (Biggest & Best CMA Discounts)
Enter the code at checkout and save 15% on both the IMA membership and CMA entrance fee!
More CMA Discounts
Sometimes, the IMA provides promo codes for CMA exam fees, for Middle Eastern candidates in particular. Right now, you can use code IPASS15 to save 15% on your IMA membership and CMA application fee!
Discounts on CMA Courses
Once you become a CMA, you’ll experience the CMA benefits of the certification. In fact, the CMA will pay for itself sooner than you think. The CMA affords career advantages such as increased income, incentives, and job opportunities. But before it does, you must pay for the certification with time, effort, and money. Specifically, your funds have to cover CMA exam fees and study materials.
Even though the CMA certification is worth the expense, you don't want to make that expense any bigger than necessary. That's where CMA course discounts come in. With these discounts, you can save hundreds of dollars on your CMA review. If you want to save big and pay less for the CMA, just use a CMA course discount today!
The Best CMA Discounts
If you're feeling overwhelmed by all the awesome CMA review discounts available, don't worry! I'll help you choose the best one for you.
The first thing you must do is figure out which materials and features your CMA review course must have. To figure this out, you should consider your learning style and knowledge levels. You should also consult my comparison of the most popular CMA review courses. Once you know what you're looking for, analyze each CMA review course on the market to see if they include what you absolutely need.
If you find the course you want doesn't come at a price you're willing to pay, then search for a CMA discount for that course. The right discount can save you hundreds of dollars on the CMA course of your dreams!
However, the best CMA discount you find may still not be enough to lower the price of your perfect CMA review course into your monetary range. In that case, you may need to reconsider your pricing priorities. Giving yourself a CMA course budget can be a good thing, but sometimes, you can get a lot more value out of a course if you spend a little more. And when it's the course you need to pass, it's worth every penny. You need the right CMA course so you can pass the exam the first time. Passing as soon as possible saves time and money, so the course that helps you do that is always a good deal.
CMA Exam Promo Codes
If the CMA discount you want requires you to use a CMA exam promo code, you just have to follow these steps.
To redeem a CMA exam promo code, you first have to copy the code from this site. Copying the code is as simple as clicking one of the buttons that says something like, “Get the code!” It's so easy because this button both copies the code for you and takes you to the review provider’s site. On that site, you must add the CMA course you want to your cart. Then, at checkout, you’ll see the place to paste the promo code. Once you've pasted the code, click “Apply.” The cart will refresh to apply the discount and reveal how much you’ve saved. You can now buy the best CMA course for you and begin preparing for the CMA exam!
As you can see, saving big by using a CMA exam promo code is pretty easy! Try the process today with one of the CMA exam promo codes here!
Other Ways to Save on CMA Study Materials
First of all, the easiest and most effective way to save money is to pass the CMA exam the first time. However, there are also a few other steps you can take to save.
1. Explore the Free Trials
Working through the free trial of a course helps you see whether the course addresses your learning style and affords plenty of review resources. Thankfully, both Gleim CMA and Wiley CMA have free demos available, so I suggest your start your CMA review search with these providers.
2. Maximize Your CMA Test Prep
The test prep program included in your CMA course is more than just a collection of practice CMA questions. Instead, it's an assortment of opportunities to solidify your understanding. Each practice question tests you on a specific concept, so if you get the question right, you've reached a deep level of understanding with the concept. If you get the question wrong, you get to learn more about the concept and use your mistake to improve your comprehension.
3. Create Your Own Flashcards
Now, I know that many CMA exam prep providers include digital or printed flashcards with their courses. But I personally believing that making your own is the best way to go.
When I was studying for the exam, I filled 3x5 index cards with the key concepts and important points. Some of my friends filled a few notebook pages instead. Either way works as long as you give your brain the opportunity to process all the content you learned.
Got Any Other Good Ideas?
Please share your ideas with us! The CMA community and I are eager to know how you plan to save money on the CMA exam! It doesn't have to cost a fortune to become a CMA!
Drafting an accounting resume should be nothing new for you, but have you ever reviewed a resume on behalf of your company? I have.
I started my job at an investment bank and was part of the team who screened resumes for first-round interviews of the analysts’ program (yes, this was done by junior bankers and not HR professionals). This was typically done after a long day, and the stack was thick, like 3-4 inches, so I must have been reviewing hundreds of resumes in one go.
A Process of Elimination
The most efficient way to process the pile was by elimination. I looked at the GPA. Anything below 3.0 was out. More than 2-3 typos? Out. Ugly formatting? Out.
Then, I skimmed through the text. This was more of a subjective process because we weren’t asked to look for distinctive traits or experiences. We were told to pick the ones we “liked.” I picked my favorites based on:
Those with higher grades and relevant internships
Those who had a profile similar to mine
Those I knew personally (either directly or indirectly)
Those who had done something so unique that I wanted to meet them in person
It is pretty hard to work on bettering your grades and landing internships once you graduate. Also, it’s challenging to fit your resume to match the profile of your reviewer because you never know who that person will be.
But you can definitely try to make some contact with existing employees and include something unique in your accounting resume so that everyone wants to invite you for an interview.
Find Your Accounting Resume Hook
I have seen quite a few “Miss Texas” and part-time models on accounting resumes. And while this is interesting, you run the risk of being interviewed by people who are only interested in what you look like. In my experience, my peers who selected models had almost no intention of providing the interviewee with an offer, regardless of how well they interviewed.
But if you have done something extraordinary, like you have set up a non-profit organization in Africa, this is a “hook” that almost always works to get people’s attention.
Also, a hook is much more impactful than a resume objective statement; these statements just take up valuable space on your resume, so go against your desire to include one.
Your Accounting Resume at The End Of The Day
We had 4-5 analysts reviewing the same stack of resumes, and our picks were often strikingly similar. That’s why most people either get no follow-up or lots of follow-ups from their resumes.
And if you’re pursuing big 4, discover how to make your big 4 resume shine. (Don’t forget what you learned here though — apply all the tips you can!)
The old school approach has always suggested an “objective” at the beginning of your resume, stating your desired job and field.
I am not a fan of this. Let me explain.
3 Reasons Why an Accounting Resume Objective Wastes Valuable Space in Your Resume
1. No Need to State the Obvious
If you are joining a standard program such as those offered in Big 4, or management trainee program in the Fortune 500 companies, stating the objective is not necessary because, well, there isn’t much to say other than you are interested in joining that particular program.
There is no point saying the obvious and wasting valuable space in your resume.
2. You Said What You Want, But What’s Your Value-Add to the Company?
If you are contacting a recruiter for general positioning in the accounting department, then it *might* be helpful to say what you are looking for. Examples:
Seeking a job in financial accounting to utilize my audit experience from Big 4
To obtain an internship to gain experience in governmental accounting where I would like to specialize in
The problem is, while you state what you want from the company, you are not telling the reader why they want you. The recruiter only cares whether you are a good candidate for the company, not vice versa. That’s why I don’t think an objective statement will do you any good.
3. It’s Pretty Lame Anyway
It’s pretty hard to make an accounting resume objective sound impressive no matter how you frame it (because, again, it is a self-centered statement). If you can’t wow the recruiter, don’t bother.
I understand that in some culture / country it is customary to put in such an accounting resume objective on your CV. If so, it’s totally fine; but if you are looking for a job in the US, I’d recommend that you skip it.
A cover letter is a much better way to express your interest to the firm. We will go through this in the next post.
Rumor has it that Big 4 hire only attractive people. How true is this?
Research Indicates a Bias
According to a research from the University of Michigan, beautiful people make more money. This “beauty premium” is comparable to the gap between genders and ethnicity. Another research from Australian National University reveals that taller people earn more, because they are perceived to be more intelligent and powerful.
People like to be around attractive individuals because they appear to be more “sociable, dominant, mentally healthy, intelligent and socially skilled” than their less appealing peers. These people have benefited for this bias for years, giving them higher levels of confidence.
Attractive People Perform Better at Interviews
Attractive individuals tend to be more confident, and likely perform better at interviews.
Also, people are naturally drawn to beauty and average looking candidates may be overlooked. Let’s say a recruiter met 100 students at a college fair. If everyone is equally smart, she is more likely to remember the tall, cute guy.
This is human nature and we have to accept this to some degree, not only in Big 4 but in every company in every industry.
What Exactly does it Mean by Attractive?
Let’s define the word “attractive”. It could mean hot-looking, charismatic or presentable.
Big 4 are business service firms. Interacting and soliciting business from clients is an important part of the job. Candidates who are smart, and at the same time good with people, are naturally their top choice. I don’t think Big 4 are looking for hotties. Instead, they prefer presentable candidates.
How to Look Presentable at Interviews
Are there ways to make ourselves more presentable? I think so.
1. Always Take Care of Your Appearance
This applies to the entire recruiting process, from attending the college fair to your final interview. No one expects you to look like an airbrushed model, but it helps to put some time into your appearance. Fair or not, right or wrong, it changes the way you are treated in many ways.
2. Work on Your People Skills
Firms look for people they can be comfortable putting in front of their clients. Think of yourself as the client. Whom do you want to see? Likely a well-groomed, cheerful and outgoing individual who are comfortable talking to different types of people. Does this person need to be physically attractive? It helps, but not a must.
Big 4 aren’t necessary going for good looks, but for those who are good with people.
Attractive individuals have the advantage of attracting people’s attention, but they also need to develop their social and communications skills to become top candidates for Big 4.
Therefore, if your face looks like a brick, you may have an uphill battle but bear in mind that Big 4 aren’t picking up hotties. If you overcome that with solid experience, professionalism, confidence, and great attitude, you can get hired with no problem.
What do you think? Any stories to share? Drop a note below.
You may be wondering about the difference between CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and accountants in general… aren’t they the same?
Well, yes and no.
CPA vs Accountant: What’s the Difference?
Every CPA is an accountant but not all accountants are CPAs. I like to describe CPAs as “Black Belt Accountants”, meaning that they have achieved beyond what a normal accountant does through advanced education, training, education and high ethical standard.
Let’s compare CPA to accountants in terms of education, experience and opportunities.
The CPA educational requirement is the most demanding among all accounting and finance qualifications: you need to be in accounting concentration or have taken enough credit hours to demonstrate the same level. Also, you must have at least a 4-year bachelor’s degree, and have taken 150 credit hours of higher education.
As a CPA license holder, people have comfort in your education level simply by looking at your title.
CPAs, not normal accountants, fill senior finance positions.
In light of the financial scandals in the past years, corporations have increasing pressure to only hire qualified professionals in order to uphold the accuracy and integrity of the company’s finances.
At the same time, for non-CPA accountants who move up to such senior positions after years of hard work, they are asked by the company’s board to “get the CPA done” within a year or they will be fired. I have more and more readers in this situation.
If you are young and have the time and energy to take on this exam, it is the best time to do it.
Your opportunities aren’t limited to CPA firms or auditing. The CPA qualification is the most recognized in the accounting field, so it is applicable and beneficial to any career related to accounting.
It could be the typical Big 4 route towards partnership, or it could be as different as a strategic advisor to an amazing start-up. You could specialize in tax in an investment bank to offer valuable insight in M&A structure, or be the boss by launching your own CPA firm. Sky is the limit in terms of what the CPA qualification can help in your future career.
Because of these reasons, accountants in different backgrounds are considering getting a CPA to enhance their credentials and income generation power. You can learn more about why you may also want to become a CPA here.
How to become a CPA
A CPA candidate has to go through 5 steps in their journey towards a CPA qualification. These steps are proof of their expertise in the following areas: