Commerce students – and often their parents – usually face the dilemma: ACCA vs CIMA? This confusion is common enough. However, lack of proper understanding and expert knowledge can lead to undesirable consequences. This article provides you a realistic and unbiased comparison that can help you make the right choice.

Before we dive deep into the comparison, let’s take a quick look at the ACCA and CIMA programs.

About ACCA

ACCA is the acronym for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. It is a globally recognized professional accounting body that offers qualifications and certifications for individuals aspiring to become versatile professionals in accounting and finance. Covering various aspects of finance, accounting, management, and taxation, ACCA will enlighten you with the nuances of financial reporting, audit and assurance, taxation, and more.

ACCA-qualified professionals are in high demand in the leading global accounting and finance firms. And for good reason.  The skills, knowledge, and outlook of ACCA professionals enable them to add value to  the organization and work in challenging business environments, both in India and abroad.  And the best part is they are able to build an exciting and lucrative career, with the freedom to settle in almost any part of the world.   

Also Read – Why ACCA is the best Financial Accounting course

About CIMA 

CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants), established in the year 1919, is a globally recognized qualification for careers in Business & Finance.

CIMA is the world’s largest professional body of Management Accountants with more than 250,000 members working in around 180 countries. CIMA-qualified professionals work in the field of Corporate Finance, Financial Reporting, Financial Analysis, Business Analysis, Project Finance, Treasury Management, Risk Management etc.

In collaboration with the CPA (USA) institute, CIMA members receive an additional designation- CGMA. CIMA has more than 4500 training and recruitment partners across the globe. 

Management accountants analyze information to advise strategy and drive sustainable business success. Anyone can study the CIMA qualification, whether they’re new to finance and business or an experienced professional.

Need help with choosing the best accounting course?

ACCA vs CIMA: Quick Comparison Chart

The following Table shows key points of difference between the two courses:




Organizing Body Association of Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
Recognition & Acceptance Recognized globally with 300 Approved Learning Partners worldwide. Global acceptance
Exam Pattern
  • Operational 
  • Management
  • Strategic
  • Professional 
  • Applied Knowledge
  • Applied Skills
  • Professional Skills
Course Duration Three years Three years
Course Complexity/ Pass Percentage Hard/30% to 40% Moderate/50% to 60%
Program Fees
  • 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. 

  • 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. 

No. of Papers 13 16
Study Focus Accounting, Auditing, and Taxation Business Strategy and Management Accounting
Skills Gained Technical knowledge of accounting and financial concepts  Strategic Decision-making and Business Management
Job Prospects
  • Financial Consultant
  • Internal Auditor
  • Taxation Manager
  • Finance Manager
  • Accountant
  • Management Consultant
  • Forensic Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Finance Controller
Average Salary  6 to 8 LPA 5 to 8 LPA
Who Should Do It? ACCA is best suited for those who:

  • Have a liking for numbers 
  • Wish to carve out a career in Accounting, Auditing,or Taxation
  • Aspire to set up their own consulting practice and work independently
CIMA is best suited for those who:

  • Nurture an interest in business strategy and management
  • Wish to carve out a career in Management Accounting
  • Aspire to rise to top leadership positions within the organization

ACCA-qualified Career Paths and Job Prospects 

Broad areas of work 

Financial accounting, tax, audit, advisory, finance, and risk advisory are the key areas where ACCA-qualified candidates can find lucrative employment.

Job positions/profiles

Since ACCA spans multiple areas within the accounting and finance domain, there is a big basket of profiles that qualified candidates can aspire for. These include

  • CFO
  • Statutory Auditor
  • Finance Manager
  • Internal Auditor
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Management Accountant
  • Corporate Treasurer
  • Financial Accountant
  • Fund Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Tax Specialist


An ACCA-qualified candidate can earn an average salary of up to INR 8 LPA. Depending on the organization, industry experience, and job position, it can further reach 15 LPA.

Top ACCA employers

Internationally acclaimed organizations that hire ACCA include:

  • KPMG
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • PwC
  • BDO
  • Grant Thornton
  • Credit Suisse

Also Read – Countries where ACCA holders have the signing authority

CIMA-qualified Career Paths and Job Prospects

Broad areas of work        

Cost management, risk management, growth acceleration, financial management, strategic management, and business analytics are the key areas where CIMA-qualified candidates can find rewarding employment.

Job positions/profiles

As a successful CIMA-holder, you can work in one of the following capacities:

  • Management Accountant
  • Business Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Management Consultant
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Financial Controller
  • Project Manager


The average CIMA salary in India is around INR 8.7 LPA. Depending on the organization, industry experience, and job position, it can go up to 11.5 LPA.

Top CIMA employers

Internationally acclaimed organizations that hire CIMA include:

  • Accenture 
  • American Express 
  • Astrazeneca 
  • Atkins 
  • AXA 
  • Bae Systems 
  • Bank of America 
  • Barclays

Also Read – How Much Time Does It Take to Crack the CIMA Exam?

ACCA vs CIMA – How to Choose the Best Course for You?

‘ACCA vs CIMA: Which Course is Better?’

To be honest, this question is rather inappropriate. And so is the debate surrounding the superiority of one particular program over the other. 

Both ACCA and CIMA are globally recognized prestigious qualifications in the Accounting and Finance domain.  Both have their own characteristics and are suited for different groups of aspirants. Instead, the question ought to be: ‘Which Course Should I Choose?’

Well, the answer to this depends on your long-term career goals. It also depends on your natural aptitude and inclination or area of interest.

ACCA essentially covers the advanced skills and principles of accounting. So if you have a yen for accounting, auditing, and taxation, you should think of pursuing ACCA.

CIMA, on the other hand, prepares candidates for strategic and business leadership roles. So if you are gifted with leadership qualities and would like to work in the management accounting arena,  you are indeed cut out for CIMA.

Also Read – Why CIMA is one of the top management accounting courses in India

Start Your ACCA Journey with Proschool

A Platinum-certified Training Partner, Proschool has been at the forefront of ACCA coaching for several years now.

As students in growing numbers are discovering, Proschool provides the right learning environment for candidates aspiring to pursue the ACCA qualification.

Top reasons why Proschool is the academy of choice for ACCA include:

  1. 12,000+ trained in Accounting and Finance
  2. They could save on registration fees and training costs
  3. Proschool helps in getting exemptions
  4. Classroom training available in 10 cities
  5. Exam pass commitment – Proschool offers unlimited classroom and doubt-solving sessions in case you fail ACCA Exams
  6. ACCA Demo Class Available
  7. Extensive Pool Of Questions – Students solve 600+ questions for each of the ACCA subjects which helps them ace the exams easily.
  8. Faculty from Barclays, Standard Chartered, Crisil etc., with 80+ years of combined experience
  9. Financial Modeling worth Rs 40k free
  10. The batch starts every month

Fulfill your CIMA aspiration with Proschool

IMS Proschool is the official learning partner of CIMA India. We offer CIMA Strategic Level, Managerial Level, Operational Level, and CBA Level classroom training courses in all the major cities.

The key reasons why Proschool is the stepping stone to your success in CIMA include:

  • 2,000+ aspirants successfully trained
  • Winner of CIMA Platinum Award in India
  • Record breaking 80%+ passing rate
  • CGMA qualification for CXO roles
  • Institute with 100+ CIMA Charterholders

Final Thoughts

Choosing between ACCA vs CIMA is entirely a personal decision, which is largely dictated by your career goals and aptitude. Both are international qualifications with worldwide recognition and command respect in the job market; each one of the programs will equip you with specialist skills and knowledge that you can apply at your workplace to build a successful career.  

Still Can’t Decide What’s Best For You?


Q1: Are ACCA and CIMA equally good courses?

A1: Yes; though they differ in the syllabus and final objective, each is a career-centric, job driven professional qualification sought after by the industry.

Q2: Is CIMA harder than ACCA? 

A2: The pass rate for ACCA is 30% to 40% whereas that for CIMA is 50% to 60%. Based on the pass rates, it can be inferred that ACCA is slightly tougher than CIMA. Nonetheless, both qualifications have their own peculiarities and require hard work, discipline, and motivation to pass.  

Q3: Can I do ACCA after CIMA? If so, what benefit do I get?

A3: Yes, you can do ACCA after CIMA. In that case, you stand to gain in the form of exemption from 11 papers.

Q4: Is CIMA in demand?

A4: Yes, indeed, it’s an in-demand professional qualification.

Q5: Who earns more – ACCA vs CIMA UK?

A5: The average ACCA Salary in the UK is £48,500 whereas CIMA UK can earn up to £63,000, which can further go up to £129,000 per year as you grow professionally.