Summary by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida
The purpose of this paper is to promote the CMA program by estimating the value of obtaining a CMA at various ages ranging from 22 to 59. Their analysis begins with an entry level salary for a 22 year old accounting graduate based on Robert Half's Salary Guide. These salary estimates are $39,292 for an entry level 22 year old without certification, and $43,221 for an entry level 22 year old with a CMA. Average salaries for ages 23-65 were based on the IMA 2010 Salary Survey reported in Strategic Finance, June 2011.1 Then salary projections were calculated based on a simple consumer price index moving average model. These future salary projections were then converted to present values using a 5% discount rate. Next the authors calculated the value per study hour based on the assumption that preparing for the CMA exam requires 300 hours of study.
Table 1 in the article shows the total lifetime present value of the CMA and return per study hour for ages 22-59. According to their analysis, the cumulative lifetime present value of obtaining a CMA ranges from $613,692 for a 22 year old to $123,346 for a 59 year old (see the graphic below).
The difference between the life time values from one age to the next shows the price of procrastinating until next year. For example, according to Krippel and Mitchell's calculations in Table 1, if you are 22 and you wait another year to obtain the CMA, it will cost you $8,485 for procrastinating. If you never obtain a CMA it will cost you $613,692.
Although the salary estimates in this article are more conservative that those in the Schiffel, Smith, and Schroeder salary survey article (see the footnote below), they both show that the CMA is a very valuable credential. The Schiffel, Smith and Schroeder article is more comprehensive in that it provides average salary data for various combinations of CMA, CPA, Bachelor's and Master's degrees.
Other related summaries:
Brausch, J. M. and D. Whitney. 2009. CMA: The quest for increasing value. Strategic Finance (December): 9-10, 12. (Summary).
Krippel, G. L., J. Moody and S. Mitchell. 2016. CPA credential delivers high value. Journal of Accountancy (May): 32-36. (Summary).
Martin, J. R. Not dated. IMA salary calculators 2010-2015. Management And Accounting Web. http://maaw.info/ArticleSummaries/ArtSumSalarySurveys.htm
VanZante, N. R. 2010. IMA's professional certification program has changed. Management Accounting Quarterly (Summer): 48-51. (Summary).