The value of CPA and CMA certifications by the numbers

Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2019 by Jessica Salerno

By Rebecca Kerr, OSCPA communications intern

Obtaining an accounting degree is hard, plain and simple. Passing the CPA and CMA exams isn’t any easier. The sleepless nights, grueling studying and crippling stress leave many professionals with the question, “Is this really worth it?”

Spoiler alert: yes!

The Institute of Management Accountants released their annual salary survey comparing salaries of more than 1,600 professionals in the U.S. who have the CPA, the CMA or both with individuals who have neither the CPA or CMA. Going Concern article shared the key findings. They include:

  • Individuals who have both the CPA and CMA make a median total compensation that is 50% higher than those that don’t have either credential
  • Individuals who only have the CMA earn a media total compensation that is 31% higher than those who don’t hold either credential
  • Individuals who only have the CPA make a median total compensation that is 22% higher than those who don’t hold either credential

The greatest disparity in median total compensation exists for those in the 40-49 age range, and the least amount of difference occurs for those older than 50 years of age who hold only the CPA. However, don’t be discouraged CPA holders and aspirants, for “only 14% of respondents of this age group hold only the CPA, compared to 37% holding only the CMA and 18% holding both certifications.”

When reviewing the data, keep in mind that, as an Institute of Management Accountants survey, some findings might be slightly weighted in the CMA’s direction. Of the survey respondents, 50% hold the CMA, 25% are CPAs, and 13% have both the CMA and CPA.


The moral of the story is, keep striving for those certifications young professionals! The value they will provide you in your career will be worth all the hard work and fatigue they entail. Those who already hold these certifications, rest easy knowing your certifications are being recognized and compensated.

You can read more about IMA’s salary surveys here.