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There Are Three Recognized Accounting Designations Accounting Essay


In Canada, there are three recognized accounting designations that may be pursued upon the completion of a post-secondary accounting degree (Accountant, 2008). The three accounting designations are Certified General Accountant (CGA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and Chartered Accountant (CA) (Accountant, 2008).For the purpose of this report, Certified Management Accountant will be the focus of this report.

The difference between CMA's and other designations are that Certified Management Accountant's focus on business strategy, and strategic decision-making (General faqs, n.d.). CMA's are the only accounting professional designation that focuses on strategy, management, and accounting (General faqs, n.d.).

The purpose of this report is to answer any questions accounting students may have about the CMA designation, and assist in the final decision making of a career path.

This report will explain the educational requirements, educate, explain the process of becoming a Certified Management Accountant, the expected compensation that will be received, and the kinds of working conditions in the working environment.

The Educational Process and Requirements

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Before writing the entrance exam, a student must complete an accounting degree program from one of Alberta's recognized institution (General faqs, n.d.). There are three ways to meet these prerequisite requirements:

If a degree is acquired with all 16 prerequisites with an achievement of 60 per cent in each prerequisite course, the CMA Entrance Exam can be challenged (Option 1, n.d.).

If the degree does not contain the required 16 prerequisites, then the CMA Accelerated Program is an option (Option 1, n.d.). The CMA Accelerated Program is a 22-week long program that offers a fast track option for degree holders (Option 2, n.d.).

Graduates who acquire a degree from an accredited university are exempt from writing the CMA Entrance Exam (Option 3, n.d.). Graduates from an accredited university with a major in accounting must have an overall average of 75 per cent and a minimum average of 60 per cent in each course to be exempt from writing the entrance exam, and directly enter the Strategic Leadership Program (Option 3, n.d.). The CMA recognized accredited schools in Alberta are:

University of Alberta - Bachelor of Commerce - Accounting Program (Option 3, n.d.).

University of Alberta - Commerce MBA (Option 3, n.d.).

University of Calgary - Bachelor of Commerce - Accounting Program (Option 3, n.d.).

University of Lethbridge - Bachelor of Management - Accounting Program (Option 3, n.d.).

The Process of Becoming a CMA

The process of obtaining a Certified Management Accountant designation includes passing the entrance exam, completing the two years Strategic Leadership Program (General faqs, n.d.). The program consists of 6 modules, and each of the modules must be completed in groups (CMA strategic leadership program, n.d.). At the end of the first year, the CMA case exam will need to be passed, and then the complete the CMA Board Report at the end of the second year (CMA strategic leadership program, n.d.).

Entrance Exam

All students who register for the entrance exam are also enrolled in the CMA Entrance Exam Preparation Program (General faqs, n.d.). To help the students, the preparation program will be focused on technical components of the exam, such as financial accounting, management accounting, tax, and finance (General faqs, n.d.).

Strategic Leadership Program

After passing the CMA Entrance Exam, candidates will pursue a two year long Strategic Leadership Program (General faqs, n.d.). The Strategic Leadership Program is a two-year, part-time program that runs parallel with full-time employment (CMA strategic leadership program, n.d.). The leadership program teaches candidates the practical theory needed to succeed in the management accounting profession, and to apply the theory to their career (CMA strategic leadership program, n.d.).


There are six interactive sessions, which are represented as modules (General faqs, n.d.). Each session is two days long, and occurs every three months during the weekends, so it would not interfere with work (Heninger, 2011). The activities include group case studies, discussions on leadership roles, managing people and company assets, as well as writing management reports based on what has been learned (Heninger, 2011). According to Rhonda Heninger (2011), there are certain tasks that must be accomplished in the working environment that relates to the CMA program.

CMA Case Exam

At the end of the first year, CMA candidates must write a CMA case exam that runs for four-hours (General faqs, n.d.). The case exam will test the candidate's development skills, and implementing a business plan for a firm (General faqs, n.d.).

CMA Board Report

At the end of the second year, candidates will complete a comprehensive, team based written evaluation and presentation of a business situation (General faqs, n.d.). Upon completion of the program, candidates will be awarded a Certified Management Designation (General faqs, n.d.).

The Compensation and Bonuses

Figure 1 represents the full compensations CMA received in the workforce between the years of 2005 and 2010.

Figure : CMA Total Cash Earned - 2005-2010


Among the CMA's interviewed, 1,387 of 2,070 reported receiving a bonus, commissions, and profit sharing (Researchworks INC, 2010). Below, table 1 illustrates the median and mean of bonuses from 2005 to 2010.

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Table : Total cash, Base, and Bonuses from 2005-2010

Base Salary


Total Cash













2009 Bonus / 2010 Base







2008 Bonus / 2008 Base







2006 Bonus / 2007 Base







2005 Bonus / 2005 Base








The Working Environment

Certified Management Accountants work in various industrial organizations and businesses (Accountant, 2008). The duties are not static and can be very different every day (Accountant, 2008). The working condition depends on the responsibility, and type of industry, but dealing with people, and customers are the norm. (Accountant, 2008).


The duties of a Certified Management Accountant vary day to day, depending on the position (Accountant, 2008). Some responsibly includes prepare budgets, financial statements, tax returns, provide support in litigation matters, and make recommendations regarding solution to financial and business problems (Accountant, 2008).

Working Conditions

All three accounting designations work in similar job environments (Accountant, 2008). The settings are usually in the office, but overtime is often required during tax season (Accountant, 2008). Staying in the office can get boring at times, but projects can be another environment to relieve oneself from the office (Heninger, 2011). The CMA designation is respected all over the world with employment pretty much anywhere (Accountant, 2008).

Promotional Advancement and Employment

After receiving a designation, the sky is pretty much the limit (Heninger, 2011). Self-employment and partnership firms are popular options. A CMA designated accountant that wish to stay in an organization, can advance faster in a firm than a person without a designation (Accountant, 2008). A wide variety of organizations include government, banks, businesses, and public accounting firms (Accountant, 2008). Promotional advancement may include becoming a controller, a senior executive, or chief financial officer (Accountant, 2008).


In order to receive a Certified Management Accounting designation, a person must have an accounting degree, possess the recommended prerequisites, pass the entrance exam, and then finish off the CMA Strategic Learning Program.

The working conditions are mainly in the office, but different duties can keep the day interesting. Over time will be spent in the office during tax season but the ability to climb the corporate ladder and have an awarding career will be a no brainer to many people.

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