Management accounting is a business function that uses financial information from inside a business to support executive decision-making, forecasting, budgeting and internal controls. As opposed to public accounting that analyzes a business from an external perspective, management accounting attempts to enhance a business's economic value from an internal perspective. While you can take accounting classes to learn the basic principles of management accounting, learning how to apply the information through analysis and strategy formulation requires experience, business understanding and a dedication to constantly increase knowledge.
Lean basic accounting. Take classes in financial and management accounting to obtain a strong foundation in accounting principles. If you are a self-directed learner, study a book that provides the basic concepts of debit/credit, balance sheets and other financial reports.
Practice your skills. Obtain an entry-level accounting position like a staff accountant or any role that puts you in a position to review the financial reports of a business. Study the accounting process in practice. Try to determine how information is used in the business. Monitor how financial information is divided. These divisions point to how management uses the summarized financial reports to run the business.
Study focal areas. Investigate internal controls, financial analysis methods, common financial ratios, accounting-based statistics and any area that you see in practice at your job. A strong accounting foundation is needed to effectively use information to help in decision-making processes.
Listen in meetings. Try to understand how accounting information is used in business practices. See what areas are investigated heavily with additional research and analysis and which areas are routine. An understanding of how the information is analyzed and used helps you prioritize information.
Request additional responsibilities and analysis tasks. Find roles that will stretch your current knowledge and skill level and ask for assistance to ensure accuracy. Once you have mastered a new skill, request additional tasks to continually improve your management accounting skills.
Certify your knowledge. To validate your knowledge, obtain a certification like the Certified Management Accounting (CMA) certification. Educational degrees also validate and increase your managerial accounting knowledge. Consider Accounting, Business, Statistics and Management degrees. Top tier management accounting professionals may have advanced degrees such as a Masters in Accounting, a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) or another business or accounting related advanced degree.