Sometimes in life it seems that taking the easy way out is the best choice, but in fact this is often the worst possible choice. Earning a certification should never be a time to consider a shortcut.
As senior vice president of ICMA® (Institute of Certified Management Accountants), the certification division of IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), I see firsthand the value and importance of studying for and passing a rigorous testing program.
I see two major benefits of testing:
Confirm your competency and skill set.
If you want to be a driver, you take a road test. In college, you take exams to pass a course. So why would it be any different for earning a certification?
Assessing one’s knowledge of management accounting through testing advances careers of individuals, increases the effectiveness of finance teams in organizations, and enriches economies as a whole.
Certifications are often a key differentiator in the hiring and promotion process as companies value the objective validation of competence. Finance team hiring managers want to have confidence that the person they’re hiring has mastered a rigorous curriculum that’s verified objectively. Earning a certification demonstrates that you have the skills needed to help your company succeed because certification, in addition to continuing education and experience, helps you stay relevant and sharpens your skill set.
Without proper testing there’s no integrity and no validity to a certification.
I like what Susan Weiss, Ph.D., CMA, adjunct accounting instructor at Bryant University, said in the March 2012 ION: “Perseverance is the key because anything worth having is worth working hard for. It may seem like a lot of planning and time management is required to pursue a certification like the CMA, but the end results are clearly worth it.”
No matter how much you think you know, you learn so much more.
From 2010 to 2020, there’s a projected 13% growth in employment among accountants, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A recent Manpower study also found that “Accounting & Finance Staff” is one of the Top 10 Hardest Jobs to Fill.
Changes in accounting regulations, advancements in technology, increasing globalization, and an ever-evolving profession result in changes in the work of the management accountant. With these changes in the job comes the need for new knowledge, skills, and abilities, and the lack of these skills has created a gap between what management accountants know and what’s needed on the job. Studying for and passing a certification like the CMA can help close that gap.
I’ve been with IMA for 20 years and I recently earned the CAE (Certified Association Executive) by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). After meeting the experience and education requirements, I had to study for and pass an exam. I thought I knew a lot about association management, but I learned a whole lot more. Not only did I learn more, but I also feel the intangible benefits of increased confidence and effectiveness in my job. I earned a sense of achievement and was rewarded with a credential knowing that I was current with the demands of my profession.
Don’t take the easy way out. Study and work hard for your credential and be proud of the letters next to your name. You earned them.
Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA, CFM, CAE
Follow me on twitter: @IMA_DWhitney