CFA vs. CMA: which is the preferred ones?

By Editorial

A number of practitioners or students in the field of accounting and financing may have had questions to which path to take. They often get confused about whether to go for CFA or CMA. Both CFA and CMA come from the accounts and finance domains. So one needs to find out the difference between both and how it benefits in the professional lives. It's close to purchasing a good. When you go shopping and have a range of choices for the items, you compare and figure out what one of them has to give.

Know more: Best Universities in US for pursuing a career in Finance

Let’s know the difference between CFA and CMA


Full form: Chartered Financial Analyst

Definition: The CFA course is an internationally recognized professional credential that tests and certifies the expertise and credibility of financial analysts. The course is designed for those involved in market analysis, investment firms, wealth management and other forms of money management. The CFA Charter is said to be the gold standard in the area of investment valuation and one of the most prestigious designations in finance.


Full form: Certified Management Accountants

Definition: CMA is accredited in the area of financial planning and strategic management. In comparison, unlike most accounting certifications, CMA is an internationally recognized certificate with a specific emphasis on business finance and management accounting. It is a software that is tailored for accountants who work outside CPA companies. 

If you have received the CMA credential, you should hope to have a highly rewarding career in different businesses. CMAs operate in an organization's accounting, corporate finance, and policy departments. The reason why the market for CMAs is so high is that they are highly qualified in practical applications.

But now the question comes “Which one is better”?

Although the CMA program can be completed in less time than the CFA, there are certain aspects of these systems that make it impossible to choose between them.

Criteria CMA CFA
Time standards  The CMA test has two sections, and IMA requires applicants to complete the tests within three years. However, it is likely that many students can achieve this much faster, perhaps within a year, if they study properly. On the other hand, while it is possible to become a CFA within two years, the majority of students require three to four years to achieve it.
Schedule of Examination  CMA applicants have the freedom to appear on any day over the testing frame, available for a span of six months each year. As the CMA exams are 100% computerized, candidates can also complete their test easily and according to the schedule of their choosing.  The dates of the CFA examination are not very adjustable. CFA examinations are held twice yearly for Level 1 and around once a year for Levels 2 and 3.
Job Overview  CMAs usually work as cost accountants, risk analysts, budgeters, corporate accountants, FP&A analysts, accountants, financial advisers, and management decision-makers. Certification of the CMA has a relatively higher demand.  CFAs are also considered to hold very large positions in various businesses, as they have very little expertise. They rise quickly and have very competitive wages. If you want to get the reputation of working in world-renowned firms in locations like Wall Street in the USA, then CFA should be your alternative.
Skills gained Securities management expertise, investment portfolio, risk distributions, portfolio policy, commercial banking.  Expertise in Financial Accounting, Expertise in Tax Management, strategic planning, Sustainability Research, Domestic Financial Statements

Different career opportunities and salary in both fields



Chief Financial Officer (CFO): $140,930; 
Corporate Supervisor: $99,633 
Tax Controller: $88,108


Chief Investment Officer: $316,600 
Financial Consultant: $80,930
Portfolio Advisor: $344,500

Looking at all of these strengths, CFA has a broader market reach and is more popular and relatively complex. Consider opting to look at the remarkable professions that both of these qualifications have to bring and which you will enjoy more. Consider the pros and cons and pick carefully! Both programs have characteristics that make them different than the other systems in every aspect. Therefore, going through the analogy mentioned above, you would have better understood the distinction between CMA and CFA.

Read more: Marketing vs Finance : The 2 parallel roads


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