A new salary survey by the Institute of Management Accountants has found that Certified Management Accountants and CPAs earn substantially more than those without certification.

The average total compensation in 2010 for those with a certification such as the CMA (Certified Management Accountant), CPA (Certified Public Accountant), or both is $135,695, which is over $27,000 more than those without certification ($108,938).

Respondents in their 40s and 50s (mid-career level professionals) reported increased salaries and compensation of $14,275 over their non-certified counterparts.

IMA’s Annual Salary Survey explores salary trends of accounting and finance professionals and reveals that certain industries are faring better than others. Public accounting ranked first in terms of average salary, at $125,488, and second in average total compensation, at $153,395, both in 2010 and 2009. The survey was mailed to respondents last December, and the results have just been released this month.

“The CMAs in this year’s study make a little more than the CPAs,” said Dennis Whitney, senior vice president of certification at the Institute of Certified Management Accountants. “For the younger professionals, it’s a little more per year. The number does seem to go up as you get older, but generally it’s a couple of thousand dollars. But the thing that’s the most dramatic is that people with both the CPA and the CMA fare the best.”
For those with both certifications, the difference can be not only $27,000, but $35,700.

“Dual certification is definitely worthwhile,” said Whitney. “It broadens your competencies. You have not only the financial accounting and auditing skills, but also the financial planning, analysis, and control skills and decision-making, which are very important today.”

Total compensation fluctuated broadly for management accountants, with six industries (grouped by SIC code) seeing gains of more than $10,000 and five groups seeing it fall from the previous year. The six big winners, in order of increase, are contract construction (+$34,261); finance, insurance, and real estate (+29,856); wholesale and retail trade (+$15,090); mining (+$12,095); public accounting (+$11,593); and nonclassifiable (+$11,046). The five losing groups, in order of decrease, are agriculture, forestry, fisheries (-$48,947); government (-$4,885); manufacturing (-$3,793); transportation, communication, and utilities (-$2,673); and education services (-$1,921).

The survey found that younger professionals benefit from obtaining professional certifications. For both men and women overall, average salary and total compensation increased a little. The number of respondents who received an increase rose sharply but has not yet returned to pre-recession levels.

The economic recovery is noticeably different across industrial sectors, company size, ownership structure, responsibility area, and age. The average salary of members responding to IMA’s 22nd Annual Salary Survey increased $3,415 from $105,850 to $109,265—a 3.1 percent increase. Average total compensation increased $5,129 from $123,357 to $128,486—a 4.2 percent increase. For the third consecutive year, neither increase is statistically significant. This year the percentage increase in average total compensation is greater than the percentage increase in average salary, a reversal of the trend for the previous three years.

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