What competencies and skills should a Cost Accountant have? The Institute of Management Accounting (IMA) sometime ago developed the Framework for Management Accounting. The Framework identifies attributes of Management Accounting and in association with the American Accounting Association developed a new suggested program of study in Management Accounting programs. The IMA recently sought to highlight this with the addition of a new website to address the competency crisis between the skills and competencies required for the old paradigm and the new.  The IMA has for some time offered its Certificate in Management Accounting (CMA) designation, although it has not been actively supporting the Management Accounting profession.  Some time ago, the IMA switched its focus to Strategic Finance from Management Accounting.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has partnered with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to develop a new certification, Certified Global Management Accountant (CGMA). To accompany this CIMA recently announced their own training syllabus to educate Management Accountants for the Certified Global Management Accountant. For those of you interested in your career we have been posting links to the CIMA syllabus, AICPA is the 800 lb gorilla of accounting associations in the US, and CIMA the same in Europe, with their combined muscle, the CGMA will probably become the standard for Management Accountants in the US. The CGMA comes from the accounting standpoint, but Cost Accounting is so much more.

The Society of Cost Management takes the view that accounting is only one slice of the pie, that Cost Accounting involves so much more, our recommended curriculum is below. Over the next several weeks we will be presenting each of these concepts and why we feel each is important. We are also interested in your input on these, so email us your thoughts.  All of this is making for interesting discussion in the MA world, but is not helping Cost Accountants at all, as people outside of the profession are making the decision where it is headed.


  • Statistics, including the Pareto distribution
  • Micro and Macro Economics
  • Industrial Economics
  • Basic Accounting
  • Incentive Management

Professional Competencies

  • Working in Teams
  • PC Skills, including advanced MS Office
  • Data analysis and Presentation Skills

Proficiencies Needed To Achieve a Basic Level of Competence (Cost Accounting)

  • History of Cost Accounting
  • Operations Cost Management
  • CVP Analysis/Contribution Margin/Marginal Costing
  • Differential Analysis
  • Indirect Cost (Full Absorption Costing/Variable Costing)
  • Direct Cost (Standard Cost/Actual Cost)
  • Activity Based Costing/Activity Based Management
  • Performance Management (including Balanced Scorecard & Six Sigma)
  • Inventory Management and Valuation
  • International Topics (Risk, Costing, International Measures and Purchasing Power Parity)

Proficiencies Needed To Achieve a Basic Level of Competence (Management Accounting)

  • Financial Mathematics
  • Capital Budgeting/Capital Investment Analysis
  • Revenue Recognition
  • Profit Planning (Budgeting/Pricing)
  • Michael Porter and Value Chain Analysis
  • International Topics (Transfer Pricing)

Optional Areas of Proficiency

  • Quality Cost
  • Supply Chain Costing/Target Costing
  • W. Edwards Deming/Lean Cost Management
  • Theory of Constraints/Throughput Accounting

Proficiencies Needed To Take Us To the Next Level

  • Value Based Cost Management
  • Capacity Management
  • Product Life Cycle Costing
  • Beyond Budgeting









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