CMA vs CA: Which Is Better For You?

Which one to choose CMA or CA well in today’s article we are going to share in-depth knowledge about CMA Vs CA, so lets have a glance on it. CMA and CA are two courses that have been here for a very long and the number of enrollees has always been low. However, the level of respect and salary a CMA or CA graduate draws and get is comparatively very higher than most other graduates.

CMA and CA courses are comparatively tougher than most other courses and therefore, the lesser number of enrollees. Even though, the number of enrollees increases, the number of people candidates graduating is comparatively lesser as these courses are tougher. This does not mean that these courses are bad or are not to be perused.

Do not assume that we are trying to scare you, while selecting a course, you must know the facts. Read the facts and details mentioned below and then consider perusing a suitable course. Remember, before reading it, if you have an assumption that one course is inferior to the other, get rid of such assumption, when it comes to CMA and CA course, none of them is inferior or superior to each other.


CMA short form for Cost Management Accounting is one of the best courses that a person could peruse. This course is deeply related to the finance sector and therefore, the course is best for candidates who plan to peruse a career in the financial sector. The course focuses more management accounting field and graduating from this course could get you a high-salary paid job.

If you are planning to peruse this course, there is a lot you need to know about the course. Do not read the details carelessly, each of the details is very important.

Cost Management Accounting is a program designed to train candidates to work in different corporate and industries. In India, the course is conducted and issued by the ICAI (Institute of Cost Accounts of India). The course includes teaching topics and skills like valuation issues, working capital policies, external financial reporting, financial statement analysis, etc.


Different level of CMA course –

There are three levels in the CMA course, which a candidate needs to pass to hold a CMA credential.

Level 1: CMA foundation level

Level 2: CMA intermediate level

Level 3: CMA final level

A candidate is eligible for attending a higher level only if he/she passes the previous level. The eligibility criteria for each level will be mentioned below.

Eligibility for CMA course –

Before you plan on joining the course, you need to first know the eligibility criteria. If you apply for the course without taking into consideration the eligibility criteria, then your application would be rejected without any consideration. So, here are the details you need to know.

Eligibility for Level 1: foundation –

  1. The applicant should have completed the 10th standard or equivalent level of education from any recognized board.
  2. The applicant should also have passed the 12th standard board exam from an Indian government recognized board.
  3. Apart from these, if the applicant holds a national diploma in commerce education from AICTE from a technical or state board is eligible to apply for this course.

Eligibility for Level 2: intermediate –

  1. To enroll for intermediate level CMA, the applicant should have passed the 12th standard from an Indian government recognized board.
  2. The applicant should have passed the foundation course conducted by the ICAI (Institute of Cost Accountant of India).
  3. The applicant should also hold an undergraduate degree in any discipline other than fine arts.

Eligibility for Level 3: Final

  1. To be eligible for Level 3 final CMA level, the applicant should have passed intermediate level CMA.

The course duration of the CMA course –

The course duration of the CMA course would depend on the candidate’s hard work and dedication. If the candidate wants, he/she could complete the course within 6-months. In the USA, the CMA course is completed within 6-months, but the level of hard work and dedication required is very high. However, in general, the course would take almost 3 to 4-years. There is no limit on the duration in particular. The user could attend the exam whenever they want.

Skills acquired through the CMA course –

  • Cost management
  • Profitability analysis
  • Strategic management
  • Expertise in financial accounting
  • Performance management
  • External financial reporting
  • Investment decision
  • Risk management
  • Planning and budgeting
  • Internal controls
  • Expertise in management accounting

The CMA course syllabus –

The CMA course comprises 20 different papers that a candidate has to study on the three levels. The subjects/topics at each level are listed below.

Level 1: foundation level, a total of 4 subjects or papers –

  1. Fundamentals of laws and ethics
  2. Fundamentals of economics and management
  3. Fundamentals of business mathematics and statics
  4. Fundamentals of accounting

Level 2: intermediate level, 8 subjects or papers in total –

  1. Indirect taxation
  2. Direct taxation
  3. Operation management information system
  4. Company accounts and audit
  5. Laws, ethics, and governance
  6. Cost accounting and financial management
  7. Financial accounting
  8. Cost and management accounting

Level 3: final level, 8 subjects or papers in total –

  1. Corporate law and compliance
  2. Tax management and practice
  3. Cost and management audit
  4. Financial analysis and business valuation
  5. Tax management and practice
  6. Business strategy and strategic cost management
  7. Corporate financial reporting
  8. Advanced financial management

CMA job titles –

  • Financial controller
  • Financial analyst
  • Chief investment officer
  • Chief financial officer
  • chief investment office

Almost all the details you need to know about this course has been mentioned above. Read it carefully and now read about the CA course.

CA –

Chartered Accountant (CA) is one of the most respected job titles and courses in India today. Even if it is one of the most prestigious courses in India today, the number of enrollees and graduates are comparatively lesser than most of the other courses. One of the reasons is that CA exams are not easy to pass. Unlike other courses, it is impossible to pass this course without hard work and dedication. This has been the same for a very long time, even today, the number of candidates graduating this course is lesser than the number of people joining the course.

The CA course is conducted by ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) and the exams are held by the same body. The persons who graduate this course tend to be dynamic and have in-depth practical knowledge on almost all levels of finance management, asset management, etc. The job roles of a CA graduate include fund management, risk management credit analysis, indirect tax, auditing, taxation, business recovery, insolvency, direct tax, etc.

Chartered accountant course is split into three stages, a candidate has to get through all these stages to become a CA. However, it is not easy, most people tend to leave the course, at the first or second stage itself. Half of the people who reach the third stage find it difficult to crack the final exams.

Stage 1: foundation stage

Stage 2: intermediate stage

Stage 3: the final stage

Eligibility criteria for CA course –

The eligibility criteria for the CA course is different from other courses, here is the eligibility based on the 3 stages of the course.

Stage 1: foundation stage CPC and CPT eligibility–

  1. The applicant should have at least passed the 10th standard to apply for the CPC (Common Proficiency Course) and
  2. After the candidate has passed the 12th standard from an Indian government recognized board is eligible to appear for CPT ( Common Proficiency Test). This test is conducted twice in one year.

Stage 2: intermediate stage IPCC eligibility –

  1. To register for the second stage of the CA course, the candidate should have passed the CPT course.
  2. The applicant should have completed a UG or PG course in commerce or any other stream
  3. If the applicant has completed UG/PG in the commerce stream, he/she should have secured at least 55% marks.
  4. If the applicant has completed UG/PG in any other stream, he/she should have secured at least 60% marks.

Stage 3: final stage, CA final exam –

  1. To register for the final stage, the candidate should have completed the previous two stages.
  2. The applicant should have completed a 3-year articleship or training under a practicing chartered accountant.

The course Duration of CA –

The course duration of the CA course could vary based on how the candidate performs in each stage exams, some people might take more than one or two attending’s to clear each stage. Therefore, the duration would differ. However, here is a general course duration based on each stage.

Stage 1: foundation – the course duration is 4-months, the course duration could extend based on how the candidate performs in the CPT exam.

Stage 2: intermediate course – the intermediate stage duration is 8-months, this duration is from the day of registration to the IPCC exam date.

Stage 3: the duration of the final stage is 3-years. The 3-year duration includes the articleship or training period. The course duration is calculated from the day of registration to the final CA exam.

The CA course syllabus –

The syllabus of the CA course is split between three stages itself. Here is the syllabus.

  • Foundation level syllabus –

Total 4 subjects, each subject 100 marks, need to secure at least 40% marks in each subject.

  1. Business recording, laws, and business correspondence
  2. Business economics and commercial knowledge
  3. Principles and practice of accounting
  4. Business statistics, logical reasoning, and mathematics

Intermediate level syllabus –

The intermediate stage of CA is split into two groups, group 1 and group 2. Both groups have a total of 4 subjects, each subject exam with a maximum of 100 marks. To pass this stage, the candidate should pass with at least 40% in each subject and overall aggregate marks should be at least 50%. A candidate could opt for any one group or both groups.

Group 1:

  1. Taxation
  2. Corporate laws and other laws
  3. Accounting
  4. Cost and management accounting

Group 2:

  1. Financial management and economics for finance
  2. Advanced accounting
  3. Auditing and assurance
  4. Enterprise information systems and strategic management

Final level syllabus –

Like the intermediate stage, the final stage also has two groups. Each group with 4 subjects, each subject maximum of 100 marks. The minimum mark to pass each subject is 40% and the overall aggregate should be a minimum of 50%. A candidate could select both the groups or any one group.

Group 1:

  1. Company law (part A) other economic law (part B)
  2. Financial reporting
  3. Advanced auditing and professional ethics
  4. Strategic financial management

Group 2:

  1. Advanced indirect tax laws
  2. Advanced direct tax laws and international taxation
  3. Advanced management accounting (part A) BPR (part B)
  4. Financial services and capital markets

CA job titles –

  • Audit accountant
  • Internal auditor
  • Revenue auditor
  • Senior accountant
  • Audit accountant
  • Intermediate auditor

Now you know almost everything about CA, however, you might not be able to decide which course to peruse based on these facts. To help you come to a better understanding, here is a direct comparison between both.

CMA and CA course differences –

  • CMA course is divided into 3 stages, foundation, intermediate, and CMA final. On the other hand, the CA course is also divided into three stages, foundation, intermediate, and CA finals.
  • CMA course is comparatively easier than the CA course, therefore, the course duration of the CMA course is lower than that of CA. In simple words, you could graduate or pass CMA exams easily than passing CA exams.
  • The demand for CA’s are comparatively very high than the CMA holders.
  • A CA could work on multiple job profiles like auditor, indirect or direct taxation, handling transfer pricing, system auditor, etc. On the other hand, CMA holders could fill job profiles like financial planning, cost accounting, cost auditing, etc.
  • The salary of CA graduates is comparatively very high than the CMA holders. However, based on the job title and industry, it could vary.
  • The course fee and the registration fee for each stage of CMA and CA is different. CMA course and the registration fee are comparatively cheaper than the CA course.

Conclusion: CMA or CA course, which is better for you?

It is impossible to recommend the best course among these two because, both the courses are good. Consider perusing any one of the courses and you could get a job anywhere in India. However, check the syllabus and the course duration of both the courses, see which course attracts you or pulls your interest, peruse that particular course. But, if you need a respected and high paying job, then CA is the best course for you.

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