All you need to know about being a Cost Accountant in India

Cost and management accounting is an essential function of any manufacturing or service providing company making CMA a highly sought-after course among students wanting to make it big in the field of cost and management accounting while keeping the option of starting out on their own open.

CMA course is designed to build not just accounting skills but also enhance management and leadership skills inside you, making it suitable for people with entrepreneurial skills and desires as well as people who want a stable and high-paying corporate job.

If you are someone who is interested in doing CMA in India, keep reading to find out more details about the structure and opportunities of the course.


Cost and Management Accounting is a professional course offered by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India. To become a certified cost and management accountant, an individual needs to clear three levels of exam namely foundation, intermediate and finals along with a minimum of 15 month-long practical training.

The scope of a practicing CMA is huge. They provide various financial services like tax consulting, project management consulting, Business valuation etc. Conduct audits such as stock, concurrent and due diligence audit of various banks, Internal audit in state/central public sector undertaking, a special audit under Customs Act, 1962 etc.

Financial management planning and financial policy determination, working capital management, budgeting including capital budgets and revenue budgets, inventory management, material handling and storing, personnel recruitment and selection, setting up executive incentive plans, wage incentive plans etc are just some of the management consultancy services provided by Cost and Management Accountants.


An aspirant has to clear foundation, intermediate and final exams conducted by the ICAI and should have undergone practical training for a period of 15 months to qualify as a CMA The eligibility to appear for the examinations are as below:

Foundation course

  • The candidate must have passed class 10 or equivalent from a recognized board         or Institution and
  • Passed the Senior Secondary School Examination under the 10+2 scheme of a recognized Board or an Examination recognized by the Central Government as equivalent thereto or has passed the National Diploma in Commerce Examination held by the All India Council for Technical Education or any State Board of Technical Education under the authority of the said All India Council, or the Diploma in Rural Service Examination conducted by the National Council of Rural Higher Education.

Intermediate course

  • Passed senior secondary school examination (10+2) and foundation course of Institute of Cost Accountants of India or
  • Graduation in any discipline other than fine arts or
  • Foundation (entry-level) Part 1 examination of CAT of the institute or
  • Foundation (entry-level) Part 1 and Competency level Part 2 examination of CAT of the institute or
  • Cleared foundation of ICSI or intermediate of ICAI by whatever names they are called along with 10+2

Final course

  • Candidate must have cleared Intermediate course of the Institute and has done 15 months of practical training.


A student has to undergo 15 months of practical training under a practicing cost accountant or a firm of cost accountants or any other firm prescribed by the Institute before appearing for Final course examinations. They can start their practical training right after they have registered for the Intermediate exam.

Though only 15 months is required for qualifying as a CMA, a minimum of 3 years of practical training is required for a person to start their own practice and become a member of the Institute.


The Foundation course of CMA focuses on basic and fundamental subjects of accounting and management while the syllabus of Intermediate and Final courses has two groups each and covers advanced-level topics in the areas of accounting, management, laws, cost etc. Here is a comprehensive list of all the papers that come under each course:

Foundation course:

  1. Fundamentals of economics and management
  2. Fundamentals of Accounting
  3. Fundamentals of laws and ethics
  4. Fundamentals of business mathematics and statistics

Intermediate Course:

Group 1:

  1. Financial Accounting
  2. Laws and ethics
  3. Direct taxation
  4. Cost Accounting

Group 2:

  1. Operation management
  2. Cost & management accounting and financial management
  3. Indirect taxation
  4. Company accounts and Audit

Final Course:

Group 3:

  1. Corporate Laws & Compliance
  2. Strategic Financial Management
  3. Strategic Cost Management – Decision Making
  4. Direct tax laws and international taxation

Group 4:

  1. Corporate financial reporting
  2. Indirect tax laws and practice
  3. Cost and management audit
  4. Strategic performance management and business valuation


To clear a group, a candidate needs to secure a minimum of 40 percent marks in each of the papers and an aggregate of 50 percent marks or more in a group. However, there are some exemptions and carry forward benefits that a student can avail in some cases –

  • If a student is unsuccessful in clearing a group has secured 60 percent or more in a paper or papers, they shall be exempted from attempting that certain paper(s) in the future attempts, but for the calculation of aggregate in the future attempts, the marks in the exempted paper(s) shall be reckoned as 50.
  • If a student is unsuccessful in clearing a group but has got 60 percent or more in a paper or papers and has got a minimum of 40 percent in all the other papers, they shall be exempted from appearing in those papers in the future attempts and shall be allowed to carry forward the same marks of the exempted papers in the future attempts


With the globalization of all economic activities, the potential of the Cost and Management Accounting profession has gained importance in both the manufacturing and service sector.

CMA’s provide services in various fields such as investment planning, project planning, profit planning and overall managerial decision-making process. They have a leading and important role in the GST era. Central Government has constituted an all-India cadre known as Indian Cost Accounting Services (ICAS) at par with class-I services for framing fiscal and tax policies.

ICAI provides placement assistance where reputed companies like KPMG, Deloitte, PWC, ITC, Reliance etc come in. As of 2020, the average salary offered is ₹8 Lakh p.a and the highest salary offered is ₹20 Lakh p.a.

The number of job opportunities for certified Cost and Management Accountants is huge.

Cost accounting, financial accounting, financial/business analyst, corporate controller, tax consulting, and auditing are just a few examples of career opportunities. CMA opens up a gateway for a lucrative career, it enhances your chances of bagging reputed posts such as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Investment Officer.

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