October 18, 2021

Certifications = Higher Salaries, Natch

Those of you who are still on the fence about pursuing a professional accounting certification should, if for no other reason, consider getting your CPA or CMA or both because of this: more money.

The Institute of Management Accountants polled its U.S. membership last September for its 2021 U.S. Salary Survey. Of the 1,300 or so IMA members who responded, 75% hold some type of certification, 66% are CMAs, 27% are CPAs, and 20% are both CMAs and CPAs.

Sure there will be outliers, especially in some industry positions, but for the most part, accountants who have a professional certification are going to make more money than accountants who don’t. The salary report says:

Overall, those holding only the CMA earn 30% higher median total compensation compared to those holding neither the CMA nor CPA. Those holding only the CPA earn 45% higher median total compensation, while those holding both the CMA and CPA earn 49% higher median total compensation compared to those holding neither certification. Further, those holding the CMA, CPA, or both earn higher median additional compensation than those holding neither certification. Overall, respondents holding only the CMA or the CPA earned 127% and 182% higher median additional compensation, respectively, above base salary compared to those holding neither certification. This indicates that those holding the CMA and CPA have a skill set specific to certification that allows them to receive additional compensation that could be based on company or individual performance.

This positive impact is consistent across age groups, with the largest differences occurring for those ages 40 to 49. Of those in this age group, those holding only the CMA earn 27% more and those holding both certifications earn 54% more median total compensation compared to those with neither certification. Although those holding only the CPA earn 43% higher total median compensation, there were only 15 respondents in this category, leading to more variation in the results. Those ages 40 to 49 also tend to be in middle management (44%), as stated previously, where the skills related to certification are used on a daily basis.

And here’s a chart:

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