The United States of America, often called a country of opportunities, is a highly desirable career destination for most professionals around the globe, especially for Indians. Currently, the US offers the highest number of job opportunities for accounting professionals as they are facing an acute shortage of accountants in the country. Hence, this is an ideal time for accountants to start their careers in the US. Interested Indian aspirants often ask us about the need for additional certifications before starting their accounting career in the US.
Well, for aspiring and seasoned accountants in the United States, the decision to pursue additional certifications can be a pivotal step in their careers. Two of the most recognized and respected certifications in the field are the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and the Certified Management Accountant (CMA). Both certifications offer unique benefits and open doors to various career opportunities.
However, the choice between CPA and CMA often depends on an individual’s career goals, interests, and aspirations. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key differences, advantages, and considerations when deciding which certification is right for US accountants.
Understanding the CPA Certification
The CPA certification is one of the most prestigious and sought-after qualifications for accountants in the United States. It is regulated by AICPA and typically requires candidates to meet specific educational and experience requirements before they can sit for the CPA exam.
Key Features of the CPA Certification:
- Broad Scope: The CPA certification covers a wide range of accounting and finance topics, including auditing, financial accounting, taxation, and business law. CPAs are considered experts in financial reporting and auditing.
- Legal and Regulatory Focus: CPAs often work in public accounting firms or for government agencies. Their role involves ensuring financial compliance and reporting in accordance with state and federal regulations.
- Education Requirement: To become a CPA, candidates must typically hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in accounting or a related field. Additionally, they need to complete a specific number of credit hours in accounting and business courses.
- Experience Requirement: Most states require candidates to accumulate a certain number of hours of relevant work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
- CPA Exam: The CPA exam is a rigorous, four-part examination that assesses candidates’ knowledge and skills in areas such as auditing, financial accounting and reporting, regulation, and business environment and concepts.
Advantages of the CPA Certification:
- Versatility: CPAs have a wide range of career options, including auditing, tax preparation, forensic accounting, and management consulting.
- Legal Authority: CPAs can represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and offer a broad spectrum of financial services.
- Global Recognition: The CPA designation is internationally recognized, making it valuable for accountants looking to work globally.
- High earning potential: A CPA in the US can earn a starting salary of $60,000+ (INR 50,00,000).
Understanding the CMA Certification:
The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification is a specialized credential that focuses on management accounting and financial strategy. CMAs are often sought after by organizations that require expertise in financial planning, analysis, and decision-making.
Key Features of the CMA Certification:
- Management Focus: CMAs are experts in financial management, cost management, risk management, and performance management. They play a crucial role in helping organizations make informed strategic decisions.
- Global Perspective: The CMA certification is recognized worldwide and is ideal for professionals who aspire to work in multinational corporations.
- Education Requirement: To become a CMA, candidates need a bachelor’s degree in any field. There are no specific education prerequisites in accounting.
- Experience Requirement: CMAs must have at least two years of continuous professional experience in management accounting or financial management.
- CMA Exam: The CMA exam consists of two parts, focusing on financial planning, performance, control, and financial decision-making. It is designed to assess candidates’ strategic financial management skills.
Advantages of the CMA Certification:
- Strategic Focus: CMAs are valued for their ability to guide organizations in financial decision-making and long-term planning.
- Global Opportunities: The CMA certification opens doors to international career opportunities, particularly in finance and management roles.
- High Demand: As organizations increasingly emphasize financial analysis and planning, CMAs are in high demand.
- Hig earning potential: A CMA in the US can earn a starting salary of $60,000+ (INR 50,00,000).
Choosing Between CPA and CMA:
The decision to pursue either a CPA or CMA certification depends on several factors, including career goals, interests, and current qualifications.
Considerations for Choosing a CPA Certification:
- Public Accounting Career: If your career aspirations involve auditing, taxation, or working in public accounting firms, the CPA certification is the most suitable choice.
- Compliance and Regulation: CPAs often work in roles that require a deep understanding of financial regulations and compliance.
- Broad Skill Set: CPAs gain expertise in various accounting disciplines, making them versatile professionals.
Considerations for Choosing a CMA Certification:
- Management Accounting: If you are interested in financial planning, budgeting, cost management, and strategic decision-making, the CMA certification aligns more closely with your career objectives.
- Corporate Finance: CMAs are often employed in corporate finance departments, where they play a pivotal role in shaping an organization’s financial strategy.
- Global Opportunities: The CMA certification is highly regarded worldwide, making it an excellent choice for professionals seeking international career prospects.
To summarise: In the realm of accounting certifications, both the CPA and CMA offer unique pathways to success. The decision between the two should be driven by your career goals, interests, and where you see yourself making the most impact. Many accountants even choose to pursue both certifications to broaden their skill set and enhance their career prospects.
Miles Education: Best CPA/CMA course providers in India:
As a leading global training provider for US CPA, CMA, CFA, and FRM, Miles has revolutionized learning for accountants through a blended model. It encompasses face-to-face classes, online training, videos, and comprehensive concept notes. With Varun Jain, the world’s favorite CPA/CMA instructor, the institution has consistently delivered excellence. Now Miles is giving all accountants, whether a CPA or a CMA, the same platform to outshine in the US accounting industry!
How Miles helps you to start a successful accounting career in the US?
While the field of engineering has always opened the doors for Indian techies to live their American dream, the accounting profession lagged behind in offering such opportunities. This disparity was primarily due to differences in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) guidelines. Accountants completing their degrees in the US were eligible for a 12-month OPT period, whereas tech professionals were granted a more extended 3-year work permit.
Our institution, Miles Education took this matter into consideration and collaborated with top US universities to pave a similar path for our Indian accountants to work in the US. We have integrated Business Analytics into Masters in Accounting programs, making them STEM-certified (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). This incredible move allows our Miles alumni who pursue these programs to receive the same 3-year work permit as engineers!