Certified management accountants (CMAs) combine accounting knowledge and
management skills to provide employers with a variety of services. They need
people skills, not just number skills.
"CMAs need skill in the area of communications," says Jim Horsch, a CMA
in Jackson, Michigan. "They have to be able to listen and to communicate their
recommendations. They have to provide the support to help management make
"In the past, accountants were considered the bean counters in the back
corner," says CMA Katherine Browne. "As a management accountant, you have
to be able to look at all parts of an organization and see how they fit and
On the financial side of things, CMAs do a lot of analysis. They monitor,
interpret and communicate financial results, help management evaluate corporate
performance and make decisions about product design and development.
"I take care of budgeting, performance measurement, sales forecasting,
economic studies and financial analysis," says Horsch.
"I help management make decisions. Sometimes it's a new acquisition. Other
times I have to decide whether to build a new distribution line. I like the
mix of analysis and thinking with communication skills."
CMAs are also managers. "I do lots of coordinating, prioritizing, supervising
and not so much accounting," says Greg Mattan, a financial analyst in private
industry. "I work in our capital assets group.
"I'm the senior who reports to the manager and makes sure the day-to-day
activities are performed correctly. I'm also a troubleshooter. When there
is a special project, I make sure it gets done in a timely and accurate fashion."
CMAs tend to work in industry but they may also work in government or public
practice or set up their own business. Management accounting is a desk job
with no special physical requirements. A CMA usually works a 40-hour week,
unless they need to do overtime to complete a task.