Are you in that stage of life where you have to decide which career path to follow in order to fulfill your dream to become a successful finance professional? Well, it is a very critical situation where most of us question ourselves about which finance qualification is most likely to land us the most sought-after job profile in the industry. Let me clarify to you that for most of us, the “most sought-after job” is the euphemism for a job that pays well. Nevertheless, if you wish to build a career in the financial sector, then you have to get a relevant degree or credential for requisite knowledge and skills, as it has become almost a hygiene factor for the industry at present. In fact, there are a plethora of certification courses available for students, freshers or entry-level professionals, as well as experienced professionals. The courses are designed to help both freshers and experienced alike by nurturing their specific capabilities to prepare them for a successful financial career. Some of the popular financial bodies that offer you the perfect launching pad are the CFA® Institute (CFA®), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). These institutes offer specialized certification programs of international repute and open doors for you to diverse global opportunities. So, let us look at some of the career opportunities that you can pursue based on the courses offered by each of the institutes in more detail below:


Career Scope: As a Chartered financial analyst, popularly known as CFA®, you will have the opportunity to work at various positions in a wide range of industries. You may be working with other finance professionals to manage a company’s fiscal objectives. In fact, most CFA® charterholders usually land jobs in asset management, equity research, fixed-income securities, etc. Some of the common job profiles of CFA® charterholders are investment banker, portfolio manager, and equity research analyst.

Expected salary: CFA® charterholders with less than one year of experience earn in the vicinity of $50,000 per annum, while someone with one to four years of experience can earn something in the range of $70,000 to $80,000 per annum. On the other hand, CFA® charterholders with more than 10 years and 20 years of experience can earn in excess of $110,000 and $150,000 annually.


Career scope: ACCA is the preferred qualification in countries that follow the IFRS guidelines for accounting. [However, if you are looking for an opportunity in the US, then CPA is the preferred qualification as they still follow the US GAAP regulations for accounting]. In fact, ACCA qualification is recognized in most of the developed countries like Canada, Australia, the UK and many more, and as such, if you are an ACCA-qualified professional, then you are eligible to apply for jobs in these countries. As an ACCA-qualified candidate, you will be in demand for many banking finance functions or other job profiles, including risk advisory, accounting advisory, corporate finance, internal audit, audit & assurance, taxation, investment advisory, etc.

Expected salary: As per Karen Young (Director at Hays Accountancy & Finance), the average remuneration of an ACCA trainee starts at around £19,300 per annum, while that of an ACCA part-qualified and ACCA finalist can go up to £25,800 per annum and £30,700 per annum respectively.

Talking about the ACCA vs CFA salary, as per the efinancialcareers survey, the average salary for an ACCA professional is up to  £64,000, whereas being a CFA® professional might fetch you an average salary of around £88,000 per annum. ACCA being more inclined towards finance and accountancy, when combined with CFA that deals more in portfolio management, leads to an outstanding qualification. The ACCA and CFA combination salary lead to an average of £100,000 per annum. 

The cost of completion of both these courses is almost the same. Hence, pursuing ACCA followed by the CFA course, boosts your knowledge in the field while opening doors to amplified job opportunities. Definitely, ACCA + CFA salary is something you can always consider above the ACCA vs CFA salary.


Career scope: If you are a CIMA-qualified candidate, then you will likely be working in some banks’ management accounting roles. Most of the CIMA-qualified candidates land with strategy-based roles that require forward-thinking because the CIMA course moulds you so that you can handle such tactical roles in any organisation in any industry, be it taking financial decisions or making strategies. Some of the major job profiles that CIMA candidates apply for are management accountants, business analysts, forensic analysts, project managers, finance controllers, etc.

Expected salary: Typically, a candidate with professional CIMA qualification, irrespective of the level of experience or role, can earn up to £62,000 (bonus included). The salaries for CIMA-qualified professionals at senior levels can start at £46,000, which can go in excess of £129,000. As per the efinancialcareers survey, jobs specifying a CIMA qualification pay £66,000 per annum on average.

Further, when it comes to evaluating CFA® vs CIMA salary, research suggests that CFA® is a more recognised course worldwide, whereas CIMA is majorly recognised in the UK but not much globally. However, considering the average CFA® vs CIMA salary, CFA® is a comparatively lesser-paid field. The average salary of a CIMA-qualified professional goes to around £62,000 per annum, while the average salary of a CFA charter holder is $95,000 per annum.


So, it can be said that all the above-mentioned finance qualifications can help you land your desired job profiles in the finance and accounting industry. However, each course caters to specific job profiles, so you have to choose the right one for yourself based on your desired profile. Although based on the given expected salaries for each qualification, it seems jobs requiring CFA® qualification are more lucrative; you must understand that salary is not the only criteria that should drive your career choice. In fact, the average salary metric can sometimes be misleading due to skewed data and many other factors. The career choice should primarily consider your interest and passion, which will eventually take care of your paycheck in the long run. I hope this article has given you some perspective about the career scopes and expected salary for CFA®, ACCA, and CIMA.

Click here to read more: Difference between CFA® and CA