Earning by Learning

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.

scattered_booksAs 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 Perseveranceeducation 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

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2 thoughts on “Earning by Learning

  1. Thank you, Dennis. As I think back on the 13 years it took me to attain my MSA degree, a lot of that time counted toward “studying” for the CMA because I took the exam directly after graduation. I studied hard, with flash-cards, recordings of my weaker review course subject areas , mind-mapping, memorization techniques, pre-testing, and so forth, but it was worth every minute of sacrifice. The discipline of studying and ensuring exam success also translated to my job as a controller and VP of Administration in which long hours were often required. Working in small and medium entities does not mean less work, rather the opposite sometimes.

    The practice in perseverance required to pass challenging certification exams helps us “grow up” and shoulder our responsibilities to our careers, family, profession and employers. It’s serious business, true, but I have definitely experienced a camaraderie with fellow CMAs, since we have a shared experience and expectations of continuing our learning so that we often will see more of them than other finance and accounting professionals. You don’t just gain a few initials, you gain a lot of friends. To repeat myself, it is So Worth It!

  2. I totally agree. Studying and passing the CMA builds character as well as knowledge – and connects us to a network of other management acconting professionals. Initials, colleagues, and often friends – “so worth it” indeed! Dennis

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