Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

The CGMA certification recognizes specialized management accountants. Discover the details, requirements, and benefits of this designation. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The chartered global management accountant (CGMA) designation was established in 2012 by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). It recognizes management accountants who have achieved a high degree of quality and competence.

CGMA holders can work in a variety of jobs in finance, accounting, and management. A few career options for CGMA holders include accountant, finance manager, and other managerial roles. While these roles do not usually require a CGMA, applicants must demonstrate a proficiency in finance, operations, strategy and management.

There are currently over 150,000 CGMAs worldwide, making it the most popular management accounting designation in the world. The guide below explains the costs and benefits of obtaining a CGMA.

Why Get the Chartered Global Management Accountant Credential?

There are multiple reasons to receive a CGMA designation, including a potential increase in salary. According to Payscale, the average chartered global management accountant's salary is $152,000 per year as of February 2023. In comparison, the average salary for a finance controller is $89,000 per year while the average salary for a finance controller with a CGMA is $118,000 per year.

For those who are not certified public accountants (CPAs), CGMA offers the CGMA finance leadership program. Enrollees pay $2,500-$5,000 depending on the time it takes to complete the program. Earning the CMA credential can be less expensive than some of the cheapest master’s in accounting programs, which range from $6,000-$39,000.

The CGMA designation is respected both in the U.S. and abroad. CMA holders can be found in 91 of the Fortune 100 and 95 of the top 100 brands in the world, according to CGMA.

How Do You Qualify for the CGMA Designation?

Professionals can take two different pathways to obtain a chartered global management accountant designation: one for U.S.-based CPAs and another for those who do not fit this criteria. Those with a U.S. CPA have the ability to skip all prep work and immediately take the final exam.

Those without a U.S. CPA must complete the CGMA finance leadership program, which takes up to three years. The CGMA exam is unique as it’s a case study with open-ended questions about helping guide a business.

Educational Requirements

To apply for a CGMA, you need a bachelor’s degree or higher in business, accounting, or finance. The program builds on an applicant’s knowledge base.

The CGMA program includes courses and case study exams in operations, management, and strategy. Example courses include:

  • Operations: Data analytics, budgeting, and cost accounting
  • Management: Cost management, business models, and leadership
  • Strategy: Financial objectives, risk oversight, and internal controls

Those with relevant degrees can skip certain courses and tests. U.S. CPAs are only required to complete the strategy exam. Candidates with accounting or finance degrees, such as management accounting, can skip the operational exam.

Professional Requirements

All CGMA applicants need three years of relevant working experience in accounting and finance. This qualification is the same for all applicants, regardless of education or CPA designation. There are a variety of applicants, and CGMA does not provide a list of specific acceptable job titles. However, some qualifying industries include accounting, risk management, and banking.

What Does the CGMA Exam Cover?

The CGMA exam is divided into operations, management, and strategy tests. All exams are given separately as case studies. The case studies test an applicant’s ability to apply managerial accounting principles in real-world situations.

Test takers are given data sets and industry information about a fictitious company seven weeks before the testing date. On test day, test takers get new information and must answer 3-5 questions about the fictitious company.

Each of the three exams has a three-hour window. Test takers do not need to take the tests on the same day. They complete them at testing centers on a computer. The computers are set up to allow calculators and an on-screen whiteboard.

Scoring the Exam

Vetted management accounting experts grade the exams. After completing the test, applicants can expect to see results in six weeks. To pass, an applicant must receive a score of at least 80 out of 150.

Applicants must demonstrate an ability to successfully perform the role that the case study is based on. The testing site recommends that applicants plan, review the materials, structure their answers well, know the industry, and practice.

How Do You Register for the CGMA Exam?

Although information about the CGMA exam can be found on the AICPA, CIMA, and CGMA websites, applicants can find the enrollment link on the official CGMA site. Applicants must fill out the online form and a practical experience record to show they have three years of related experience.

Individuals whose college or university is listed in the CGMA database are not required to submit transcripts. If the university is not listed in the database, then applicants must send transcripts to CGMA.

Candidates can schedule tests approximately six months in advance, and registration closes about two weeks before the testing date. Each of the three exams is available three times per year. Applicants must complete all related learning competencies two weeks before the exam.

Pearson VUE administers the test. They have over 5,000 testing centers globally. Applicants can retake exams unlimited times, provided previous test scores have already been released.

Paying for the Exam

The cost of the exam depends on the amount of time an applicant expects to spend on the online classes and tests. There are 1-3 year options available, All include access to the online program and two credits to take each exam. The pricing for the programs is as follows:

  • 1 year: $2,500
  • 2 years: $4,250
  • 3 years: $6,375

Those with a CPA can skip the online classes and take the final exam for $495.

How Can You Prepare for the CGMA Exam?

CGMA candidates should devote 150-200 hours to complete each level of the exam. The following top tips were recommended by CGMA. By following these tips, you can be better prepared for the exam.

Top Tips

  • Spend time planning: Due to the tight three-hour window during the test, planning is essential. With proper planning, your responses are structurally sound, clear, and relevant to the exam questions. According to a CGMA survey of test takers post-exam, planning with practice was the second-highest reply.
  • Familiarize yourself with the data: As CGMA gives test takers data seven weeks before the exam, it is essential to spend ample time reviewing materials. Exam reviewers mentioned that failure to demonstrate an understanding and knowledge of materials was a key reason for failing applicants.
  • Work on structure: Working on structure will help exam reviewers understand your key points without getting lost in details. In order to structure answers to open-ended questions, use headings, write 3-4 lines per paragraph, and apply key points in the case study.
  • Research the industry: It is also important to spend time researching the industry you are writing about. While the companies included in the test are fake, showing an understanding of the business environment and industry can help you create valid decisions and arguments in the exam.
  • Keep practicing: Finally, CGMA recommends that applicants "practice, practice, practice." By taking mock examinations, you understand the types of questions that may appear on the exam.

Practice Exams and Study Resources

  • CGMA Post-Exam Kits: One great study resource is the CGMA website itself, which not only offers information about the tests but also mock exams. There are multiple mock exams for each test category, which include the exam, questions, and guide. Additionally, there is a section on the website dedicated to exam strategy and preparation.
  • Pearson VUE Questions Tutorial: Pearson VUE, the company which distributes the test, offers an online CGMA questions tutorial. This gives test takers an opportunity to get hands-on experience with the computer-based test. By taking this tutorial, candidates can familiarize themselves with the test format and question types.
  • Exam Prep and Study Guide: offers an online CGMA exam prep and study guide, which includes video lessons and a multiple-choice quiz after each lesson. There are a total of 20 chapters online, each with multiple lessons. This study guide is designed to be comprehensive and address all the materials on the CGMA exam.

What Is Needed to Maintain the Certification?

CGMA holders must meet continuing professional development (CPD) requirements to maintain the certification. The CPD requirements do not include specific classes or an amount of development hours. Instead, CGMA holders must record and report their professional development efforts. There are no continuing education requirements for CGMA holders. To keep the CGMA designation active, there is a yearly fee of $395.

Should You Get Multiple Certifications?

To skip two of the three tests for the CGMA certification, you can first obtain a CPA designation. CPAs often have careers in accounting, tax, or auditing. While combining a CGMA and CPA can assist with career choices, it requires candidates to meet college credit requirements, pass additional exams, fees, and complete continuing education courses.

Another choice similar to the CGMA is the certified management accounting (CMA) designation. The CMA is offered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). While the CGMA exam focuses on written questions, the CMA exam consists of both multiple-choice and essay questions. The CGMA also requires three years of working experience while the CMA requires two.

The main difference between CGMA and CMA certifications is their courses. While CGMA focuses on operations, strategy, and management, CMA focuses on financial accounting and strategic management.

Common Questions About CGMAs

  • What is the difference between CGMA and CMA?

    The CGMA is issued by the AICPA and CIMA while the CMA is issued by the IMA. Furthermore, the courses and tests differ between the two. CGMA focuses on open-ended questions, strategy, and management while the CMA focuses on a combination of multiple-choice questions, essays, and financial planning classes.

  • What are the requirements to earn the chartered global management accountant designation?

    To earn a CGMA, you need a bachelor’s in accounting, finance, or business and three years of relevant work experience. Once these qualifications are met, you must take 1-3 computer-based tests and pass with a score of at least 80 out of 150.

  • Where can I take the CGMA exam?

    CGMA exams are available at Pearson VUE testing centers around the world. There are over 5,000 testing centers available to applicants.

  • When is the CGMA exam administered?

    The CGMA exam is administered in May, August, and November. Applicants can register up to six months before the test, but they must complete all learning competencies two weeks before the exam.

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