CA, CS or CMA – Which is better for you?

  • CA|Exam|CS|CMA|
  • 7 Min Read
  • By Taxmann
  • |
  • Last Updated on 18 May, 2024

ca vs cma vs cs

Choosing between CA, CS, and CMA depends on your career goals:
CA (Chartered Accountant): Best if you're interested in auditing, taxation, and overall financial management.
CS (Company Secretary): Ideal if you want to specialize in corporate law, governance, and compliance.
CMA (Cost and Management Accountant): Suitable for those focusing on cost management, financial planning, and strategic decision-making.

Table of Contents

  1. Chartered Accountant (CA)
  2. Company Secretary (CS)
  3. Cost and Management Accountant (CMA)

A commerce student after clearing his/her 12th examination often sustains a dilemma regarding the best course of action to be followed thereafter. This is a natural process during which a person desires to explore all of the plausible alternatives before him, before embarking on his/ her career journey.

For a commerce graduate, this confusion amplifies owing to the numerous reputable options available to him in the field of finance and accountancy. Today, students have a wide array of alternatives when it comes to selecting a career option.

This informative blog makes a detailed comparison among the top three courses of the commerce field.

Chartered Accountants (CA), Company Secretary (CS), Cost and Management Accountant (CMA) are the three very popular courses in the commerce field. All these are professional courses, being offered by top-tier reputed institutions enacted by the Parliament of India.

While there are number of similarities among the three courses, there are still noticeable and commercial differences among them. It is well known that all these courses are popularly sought after in the commerce stream. Every year many students get themselves enrolled and learn any of it. In terms of course content and professional job profiles, these three courses are frequently thought to be inter-connected and related to each, owing to the similar course pattern designed for the students. But even though they may appear similar, they are actually different courses that focus on different departments or aspects of a business entity.

With every difference kept aside, one thing which is still common for each of the three course would be their difficulty level. All of them can be regarded at par in this matter, at least. The pattern of subjects designed undeniably test the mental capacity and intellect of students at every level. Therefore, it becomes necessary that students choose the most appropriate course based on the skills, academic experience and their interest in the field. Before taking the decision, one must ask itself,

“Whether I will be able to do this for long period?”

In the long run, this simple question may solve so many confusions of life.

Common Misinterpretation:

Many people believe that the curriculum and subjects of all three courses: CA, CS, and CMA share a lot of similarities. But that is not the case. As previously stated, they may appear similar, but they are very different because, CA’s primary focus is on finance, auditing, and taxation. The CMA programme focuses primarily on cost and management accounting, whereas the CS programme focuses on corporate and other such laws.

Each of the course relies heavily on different aptitude and skills; therefore, students must carefully select a course based on their abilities and interests.

After discussing primary things related to CA, CS and CMA, let’s deep dive into each course’s details, which can prove to be helpful for a candidate to decide the best suitable course for his/her bright future. | Students

1. Chartered Accountant (CA)

A Chartered Accountant (abbreviated ‘CA’) is a professional accountant who is hired by an individual, firm, or company to manage the entity’s financial operations. In practice, recipients of this profession expect a CA to manage their finances and provide advisory services. These services can range from auditing annual financial statements to filing income tax or GST returns and providing financial and taxation consulting.

In simple words, a CA’s role is to assist, advise, and provide guidance to shareholders or owners or investors about their business’s financial needs.

Way Ahead – Members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) are formally known as the chartered accountants. The procedure of becoming a member is a long and vigorous one.

In order to become a CA in India, one must complete the three-tier examination of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) which comprises of Foundation, Intermediate and Final level including self paced online modules. Apart from that, 2 years of practical training (also known as articleship), is also required to be undertaken to get the prefix CA in one’s name.

2. Company Secretary (CS)

A Company Secretary or Corporate Secretary is a person who is hired by companies for overseeing the efficient administration as well as ensuring organisation’s compliance with statutory, regulatory and legal requirements. Therefore, having a deep understanding of legal aspects is one of the core principles for any Company Secretary.

The Company Secretary can also be referred to as a company’s internal advisor, because he or she acts in the best interest of shareholders and the company as a whole. Apart from this, he/she is also involved in providing management with various services related to company incorporation, annual ROC compliances, convening board meetings, preparing minutes, maintaining of company records, and so on.

A Company Secretary’s responsibilities include ensuring that lower, middle, and upper management of a company adhere to the law, keeping and maintaining company records, and communicating with shareholders and directors, among other things. A CS is also in charge of ensuring that all board decisions are successfully implemented within the company. In a way, we can summarize that CS course is more concerned with the Companies Act, Labour law, among other things.

Way Ahead – To become a CS in India, one must pass the Institute of Company Secretaries of India’s (ICSI) three-stage examination, which includes the CSEET, Executive, and Professional Level.

3. Cost and Management Accountant (CMA)

A CMA or a Cost and Management Accountant is responsible for the allocation, management and regulation of funds in a business entity. He/She also analyses data from multiple sources (internal or external, both) in order to provide the means for business improvements.

CMAs serve as Cost Accountants, and assist in the determination of the price of any business entity’s products through cost calculation. Additionally their expertise and knowledge about cost centres are used in preparing all the budgets like cash budget, purchase budget, and sales budget etc. for an entity. Hence, in a way they contribute to strategic decisions through the internal review of financial budgets by working in concurrence with different managers, strategists and advisors of company. This enables them to suggest improvement in regards to cost control of the companies.

Further, they also deal with cost management, cost reduction and cost audit of a company or for other notified entities. In simple terms, CMAs can work for any business organization.

Way Ahead – To become a CMA in India, one must pass the Institute of Cost Accountants of India’s (ICMAI) three-stage examination, which includes the CMA Foundation, Intermediate, and Final Level. Furthermore, 15 months of practical training is required before taking the CMA final examinations. This practical training is an essential component of the CMA programme.

Key differences among CA, CS and CMA based on different parameters:





Professional Body The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) The Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICMAI)
Course Structure CA course is structured in following three levels:

  • CA Foundation
  • CA Intermediate
  • CA Final including self paced online modules along with 2 years of mandatory articleship
CS course is structured in following three levels:

  • CS Executive
  • CS Professional along with 21 months Practical Training


CMA course is structured in following three levels:

  • CMA Foundation
  • CMA Intermediate
  • CMA Final along with 15 months to 3 years Practical Training
Minimum Course Duration 3 to 3.5 years 3 years


3 years


Job Profile CAs are given following job profiles in their career such as:

  • Statutory Audit
  • Internal Audit
  • System Audit
  • Forensic Audit
  • Advisor in Direct and Indirect Taxation
  • Handling Transfer Pricing
  • Financial and Accounting Management
  • Credit Analyst
CSs have the following job profiles:

  • Associate Company Secretary
  • Legal Advisor
  • Principal Secretary
  • Corporate Planner
  • Chief Administrative Officer


CMAs are given following job profiles:

  • Cost Accounting
  • Cost Auditing
  • Determination of Prices of Goods and Services
  • Management Accountant
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Demand in Market Chartered Accountants are highly knowledgeable and qualified in various domains such as taxation, auditing, law, finance, accounting, etc., and hence their demand is rapidly increasing in the corporate world.

With the increase in market dynamism, companies are actively seeking for candidates who can handle various tasks related to their businesses. CAs therefore, perfectly fit into this picture, having learned and gained experience in these varied subjects.

With the growing popularity of corporate work culture in India and simultaneous increase in compliances, there has been a greater demand for CS recruitment as well.

Many businesses are now actively seeking qualified CS personnel to help them manage their business affairs, assist them in setting up/expanding their scale of establishments, and ensure compliance with various laws and regulations that apply to them.

Every company is not mandated to get the cost audit done i.e only the notified companies are required to maintain cost records and get those records audited by qualified Cost Accountant.

Only the companies that are working on a very large scale are required to appoint cost auditors. So in comparison to CAs, there are restricted options available for CMAs.

Average Salary A fresher Chartered Accountant can be offered an average salary of 6-7 lakhs which increases with the experience and ability.

Note: During 2023, ICAI Campus Placement Average Salary (CTC) offered to 2385 candidates was Rs. 12.32 Lac (per annum).

The average salary of CS in India lies between 5-6 lakhs.


The average salary of CMA in India lies between 5-7 lakhs.

Note: During 2021 to 2023, 2000+ ICMAI Campus Placement candidates were offered an Average Salary (CTC) of Rs. 12 Lac (per annum).



Considering the similarities and differences between the courses, it is suggested to arrive at a decision by first visiting the official websites of the respective courses and acquire an insight into what one can expect from the field chosen. Also, taking advice and speaking to experienced people in order to get a clearer picture is recommended, so that a wise future decision can be made.

Disclaimer: The content/information published on the website is only for general information of the user and shall not be construed as legal advice. While the Taxmann has exercised reasonable efforts to ensure the veracity of information/content published, Taxmann shall be under no liability in any manner whatsoever for incorrect information, if any.

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