On the fence about whether the CMA is for you? This free guide will help.

Defining Management Accounting Careers

While other areas of accounting are focused on reporting financial results to external entities such as banks and shareholders, management accounting is focused on providing information to decision-makers within an organization. As such, management accounting serves a central strategic role for businesses.

According to Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), management accountants have the expertise to provide high-quality information because they have specialized skills in financial planning, analysis, control, decision support, and professional ethics.

This array of skills allows Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) to contribute to the success of a business in a number of ways, including:

  • Advising managers about the financial implications of projects.
  • Explaining the financial consequences of business decisions.
  • Formulating business strategies.
  • Monitoring spending and financial controls.
  • Conducting internal business audits.
  • Explaining the impact of the competitive landscape.

Above all, due to the rigorous CMA certification process (which includes holding a bachelor’s degree) and their commitment to on-going education, CMAs bring a high level of professionalism and integrity to business.

This is why you’ll find CMA-holders in important roles in top companies in every industry worldwide. CMAs work for public corporations, private businesses, and government agencies.

Managerial Accounting Jobs

Being a CMA sets you on a career path that affords you a wealth of opportunities. And these opportunities grow as you gain more experience.

A management accountant typically starts in an entry-level position as an internal auditor, cost accountant, or financial analyst. After a few years of experience, a management accountant may manage a team of internal auditors or analysts, or they may work as a financial controller.

After many years of experience, a management accountant may become a treasurer or CFO. A master’s degree is not always required for advanced managerial accounting positions, but they are often preferred.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for accountants and auditors is strong with an anticipated growth rate of 4% between 2019 and 2029.

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Here are some of the top management accounting jobs available at varying levels of experience.

Cost Accountant

  • These management accounting professionals use cost accounting to review costs and save companies money. They use budgeting and look at purchasing and other financial information to aid in cost management and risk management.

Budget Analyst

  • Budget analysts create and analyze budgets to help businesses manage their finances, realize efficiencies, and increase profits.

Internal Auditor

  • Internal audits are used to review financial statements and business operations to ensure all laws and proper procedures are being followed. Internal auditors present their findings and recommendations to senior leadership.

Financial Analyst

  • Financial analysts use market trends, forecasts, budgets, and other financial and economic information to create financial models that aid in decision-making. These models are meant to predict the outcome of purchases or decisions to help businesses manage their assets wisely.

Accounting Manager

  • Accounting managers work closely with controllers and oversee all financial reporting. They also sometimes work with external auditors to ensure regulatory requirements are being met.

Chief Cost Accountant

  • Chief cost accountants are leaders who oversee the accounting department and help set financial goals with strategic planning.

Financial Manager

  • Financial managers are long-term thinkers who review financial reports to maintain the financial health of a business or organization.

Budget Director

  • Budget directors are senior leaders on the budget team and oversee all aspects of the budgets. They make recommendations on best practices and opportunities to increase profits.

Manager of Internal Auditing

  • Managers of internal auditing are leaders who supervise internal auditing teams. Their objective is to make sure all necessary laws and procedures are being observed by the business or organization.


  • Controllers are senior leaders who manage all internal controls and accounting operations for a company. Their responsibilities are broad and include financial reporting and accounting.


  • Treasurers manage all cash payable and receivable for a business. They maintain relationships with banks and lenders and prepare cash forecasts and corporate stock plans.

Financial Vice President (VP)

  • A Vice President of Finance is responsible for implementing strategic financial management plans. They prioritize profitability and cost management and play a large role in company growth.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

  • A CFO is part of the executive leadership team and manages all financial decisions for a company. They advise the CEO on financial structures, lender relationships, investments, and mergers and acquisitions.

Corporation President

  • A corporate president is the leader of a company and the head of the executive leadership team. They oversee all day-to-day operations and corporate management of a company.

Becoming a CPA and a CMA

If you have plans of pursuing a leadership career path, it may be worth it to become both a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

Not only are dual CPA and CMAs more valuable due to their wide scope of knowledge, but they command higher salaries.

Wondering if the CPA is worth it? Discover 5 reasons you might want to earn your CPA and CMA.

The IMA Global Salary Survey cites those professionals who hold both certifications earn 47 percent more than their non-credentialed peers, and the pay gap increases to 58 percent for professionals ages 30-39.

Check out all the job offers advertised on the IMA website. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Management Accounting vs. Financial Accounting

Here’s a helpful table to help you understand the key differences between Management Accountants and Financial Accountants.

Purpose of informationHelp managers to make decisionsCommunicate financial position to outsiders
Primary usesInternal managersExternal users: investors, creditors, government/authorities
Time dimensionCurrent and forward-lookingPrimarily historical
Nature of the informationFinancial and non-financialMostly financial
Reporting frequencyAs & when desired by managementQuarterly or annually
Format of informationInformation must be provided in accordance with predefined standards such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)Information must be provided in accordance with predefined standards such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
ControlInformation may be reviewed by internal auditorsInformation is reviewed by public auditors

Get More Free Resources About The CMA Certification

We have an entire section of our site dedicated to resources about advancing your career with the CMA certification. You can check it out here, or you can choose from a few of our favorite articles below. Each tackles a specific pain point you might have related to becoming a CMA.