Students aiming to gain a professional accounting qualification may find themselves in flux about choosing the right accreditation. CIMA and ACCA are two popular options here but understanding their differences is the key to choosing the right one for a student’s professional career. 

The critical difference between both qualifications is how they help a student gain the required skills for their career. The ACCA certification helps students become proficient in accounts handling, management accounting, audits, taxation, etc. However, CIMA equips the students with expertise in management accountancy and its related fields. Let’s get into the details of the differences between CIMA vs ACCA. 

What is CIMA?

CIMA stands for Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, which implies that it’s a dedicated professional program for building a career in management accounting. The work of a management accountant includes organizing a company’s finances. 

In this capacity, management accountants also work as business leaders, decision-makers, and innovators for an organization. Their roles and responsibilities transcend to other industries and fields. No matter the size of a company and its orientation, they need a management accountant or a team of accountants to handle the operations.

On a day-to-day basis, management accountants are required to interpret financial data, make reports, and leverage their knowledge to help company leaders make business decisions. Moreover, they find out ways to improve a company’s outcome in terms of cost-savings and implementing smart accounting practices. 

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Syllabus and Scope of CIMA

CIMA graduates will be eligible to work in different sorts of management accounting roles and positions in banks and other financial organizations. CIMA-qualified professionals will be able to take up strategy-based roles and leverage their capability to handle tactical roles. 

The course will train the students to make financial decisions and build strategies for the company. Among the jobs a CIMA graduate can take include;

  • Business analyst
  • Management accountant
  • Forensic analyst
  • Project manager,
  • Finance controller.

Working in this capacity, the professional will understand how an organization works and identify its business model. With this information, they will help companies make strategic decisions and build competence. Moreover, CIMA professionals can also help an organization adapt according to the changes in the market. As a part of their training and studies, CIMA professionals will be able to analyze statistics and identify trends to help a company make better decisions. 

Talking about the CIMA syllabus, it has three levels;

  • Operational Level
  • Management Level
  • Strategic Level

At the operational level, the students will study subjects related to finance, technology in the digital world, data, and information. In addition to this, the students will learn about cost accounting, budgeting, budgetary control, taxation, and cash management. They will also learn about different management techniques, managing people and projects. The course will teach them to manage costs and capital investments along with understanding Risk and Control. 

As a part of their advanced studies, the students will learn about financial capital projects, group accountants, integrated reporting, and strategic control. The students will get to know more about digital strategy, analysis of the organization ecosystem, risk management (enterprise, strategic, and cyber), business valuation, and financial policy decisions.

To know more about IMS Proschool’s CIMA Course.

Download CIMA Brochure

What is ACCA?

ACCA stands for Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and is one of the leading bodies that helps build professional accountants. Studying with ACCA means the students will be able to explore a world of new opportunities by completing two stages of ACCA. These are Applied Knowledge & Applied Skills and Strategic Professional. 

The Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills will introduce the student to the world of intelligence accounting and finance. As a result, they will learn more about business and technology, management accounting, and financial accounting. In applied skills, the students will gain an in-depth understanding of corporate and business law, performance management, taxation, financial reporting, audit & finance, and financial management. 

The strategic professional segment is like the final nail in a student’s journey to be known as an ACCA professional. Completing the ACCA professional course, the students will be able to work in banks, financial institutions, and globally recognized organizations. The roles a student can take up after ACCA include:

  • Risk advisory
  • Accounting advisory
  • Internal audit
  • Audit and assurance
  • Taxation
  • Investment advisory
  • Corporate finance

Checkout Proschool’s ACCA Course

ACCA is one of the most popular courses an accounts student can take up to forward their career. 

Want to know if ACCA is the best option for you? Take a short ACCA Quiz

CIMA vs ACCA | Comparing the Two Professional Qualifications

Let’s understand the basic differences between CIMA vs ACCA with the help of a table. 




Exam Pattern

CIMA has four levels;


  • Operational 
  • Management
  • Strategic
  • Professional 

ACCA has three levels;


  • Applied Knowledge
  • Applied Skills
  • Professional Skills

Course Duration

Three years

Three years

Fees of the Exam

  • Registration – £85
  • Management Accountants Gateway – £85
  • CIMA Professional Registration – £425
  • Operational Level Exam – £120 (test) and £205 (case study) – per exam
  • Management Level Exam – £140 (test) and £210 (case study) – per exam
  • Strategic Level Exam  – £195 (test) and £299 (case study) – per exam. 


In total, a student can spend between £2500 to £3000. 

  • Registration – £30
  • Applied Skills (£129 per exam). 
  • Professional Skills Exam (£71 per exam). 
  • Strategic Professional (227 per exam). 
  • Strategic Business Reporting (£162 per exam). 


In total, a student can spend between £1500 to £2000. 

Exam Difficulty Level



Potential Jobs after Qualifying 

  • Management Consultant
  • Forensic Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Finance Controller
  • Financial consultant
  • Internal auditor
  • Taxation manager
  • Finance Manager
  • Accountant

Salary After Gaining Certification

CIMA graduates can earn between £37,499 to £57,499 in Europe by taking up different roles. 

On average, ACCA professionals are demanding a salary of £30,700 per year. 

Eligibility to Give the Exam

For CIMA, the candidate must be a graduate in any discipline. However, graduating from an accounting program will be better. 


To sit in the exam, the candidate needs to have three years of work experience. 

To sit for the ACCA exams, students need to pass High School. However, before sitting for the exam, the candidate needs to have three years of working experience. 

Brochures and Syllabus
Download CIMA Brochure
Download ACCA Brochure

Join IMS Proschool to start your preparation in CIMA or ACCA today. 

Which One is Better, CIMA vs ACCA?

After an initial understanding of both exams, we can say that CIMA and ACCA are two important qualifications for an accounts professional. After completing both qualifications, students will be competent enough to work in globally recognized companies and demand an amazing salary. 

However, there is no straight answer to this question, as both exams have gained immense popularity in the accountancy industry. The students completing the qualifications will be able to gain knowledge about specific fields. In ACCA, they will be a master of taxation, auditing, and their principles. In CIMA, the students will learn about accounts management and business accounting. 

Based on the skills obtained and retained, the students will be able to take up different levels of professional jobs. However, when you want to decide between the two, make sure to consider your requirements and goals for completing the exam. 

If the goal is to take on management roles, CIMA is better. But if you want to take up specialist roles in accounting, go for ACCA. 

Talk to a CIMA Expert
Talk to an ACCA Expert



A simple analysis between CIMA vs ACCA makes us understand that both the types of qualifications and certifications have unique benefits for the students. After completing the course and passing the exams, the students will get ahead in their careers and become better professionals at management, taxation, accounting, and other related fields. Join IMS ProSchool, to get ACCA and CIMA training from professionals. With us, you will gain a deeper understanding of the course and will be able to pass the exam easily.