At Wiley, we pride ourselves on being a go-to source for anyone seeking useful career advice or insight on professional credentials — but sometimes, other people do a far better job of explaining things than we ever could. So, if you’re currently studying (or in) accounting, here is one article that you absolutely have to read …
Authored by Professors Joseph Hargadon Ph.D, CMA, CPA, of Widener University and Lori Fuller Ph.D, CPA, of West Chester University, the original Double Up & Stand Out! article appeared in Strategic Finance in 2007 with a 10-step plan for accounting students to pass both the CPA and CMA exams within nine months of graduation. It was updated in 2010 (and cut to nine steps) and then again in 2015. Most recently, the authors updated their advice slightly following the changes to the 2017 CPA Exam. It was a “slight” update because, even though the format and scoring of the CPA exam changed significantly in April 2017, the actual content of the exam remained consistent.
The gist of Double Up & Stand Out! is this: The job market is amazingly competitive, so why limit your career options by just specializing in public accounting or management accounting when you can do both? Just as a master’s degree helps jobseekers stand out when a bachelor’s degree is now the required minimum, combining CMA certification with a CPA license is an efficient way to quickly set you apart to employers.
But more than that, doubling up your credentials (and the education process involved with passing the CPA and CMA exams) is a great way to add useful skills and abilities — and quickly.
So why pursue double certification? As Professors Hargadon and Fuller point out, the return on investment for roughly nine months of study is incredible.
According to the 2016 IMA Global Salary Survey: “In the U.S., the optimum benefit is achieved by earning both the CMA and the CPA certifications.” And it’s not even a question: Professionals who hold both certifications earn 47% more than their non-credentialed peers. That pay gap jumps to a whopping 58% for professionals in the 30-39 age range.
In the coming weeks and months, we will break down Professor Hargadon’s and Fuller’s advice in detail and expound on the steps you can take to quickly earn both certifications and leverage them to your benefit. Our advice will be relevant to both students and working professionals.