Difference Between ACCA and CIMA

ACCA certification (Association of Certified Chartered Accountant) equips students with skills in accounts handling, management accounting, taxation, auditing, etc while CIMA certification (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) provides adequate training and degree with respect to management accountancy and various other related subjects.

Both ACCAACCAACCA as a qualification is growing very fast and across the globe. The article provides you all the details concerning examination date, format, eligibility criteria, pass percentage, fees and many more about ACCA certification more and CIMA are reputed certifications in the field of accounting and finance. However, CIMA is little more than just accounting as it also helps in honing skills for decision making because it is a mix of accounting and business management. Hence, both certification programs cater to some specific job profiles, and it is the candidates who need to decide based on their career aspirations.


ACCA vs CIMA Infographics

Let’s see the top differences between ACCA and CIMA.


Comparative Table – ACCA vs CIMA

Organizing bodyAssociation of Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA)Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
PatternDivided into 3 levels
  • Knowledge Level
  • Skills Level
  • Professional Level
Divided into 4 levels
  • Operational Level
  • Management Level
  • Strategic Level
  • Professional Level
Duration of course3 years3 years
  • Business Accounting
  • Management Accounting
  • Information Management
  • Finance Management
  • Strategic Marketing Management
Exam Fees£1,500 – £2,000£2,500 – £3,000
  • Management Accountant
  • Business Analyst
  • Forensic Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Finance Controller
Exam Dates
  • Mar 01-05, 2021
  • Jun 07-11, 2021
  • Feb 10-26, 2021
  • May 14-28, 2021
  • Aug 11-27, 2021
  • Nov 10-26, 2021

ACCA vs CIMA – Which is Better?

This is a very common question, and sadly there is no easy answer to it. There is no doubt that both certifications help secure some of the most sought after jobs in the finance and accounting domain. ACCA emphasises advanced taxation principles and external auditingExternal AuditingExternal Audit is defined as the audit of the financial records of the company in which independent auditors perform the task of examining validity of financial records of the company carefully in order to find out if there is any misstatement in the records due to fraud, error or embezzlement and then reporting the same to the stakeholders of the more and prepares candidates to work independently or in finance-specific private firms. On the other hand, CIMA helps candidates to prepare for the business side of accounting with a flair of management expertise.

Skills Obtained

After becoming a certified ACCA, a candidate gains a deeper understanding of the technical side of financial accounting. On the other hand, a CIMA passed out candidate develops excellent strategic and business management skills.


Both courses require a similar amount of time for completion. For ACCA, candidates need to clear 14 professional exams coupled with 3 years of supervised accountancy experience. If the candidates can manage their work and studies simultaneously, then they can complete the ACCA qualifications in around 3 years. On the other hand, CIMA candidates also need to complete 16 papers and 3 years of relevant work experience to complete the CIMA qualification successfully. So, even in CIMA, candidates can complete the course in 3 years if they balance their work and studies well.

Eligibility or Experience Required

A candidate needs to pass high school to be eligible for the ACCA examination. In contrast, the CIMA exams need a candidate to graduate in any discipline from a recognized university. Both ACCA and CIMA qualifications require the candidate to have three years of relevant work experience. It is to be noted that candidates are eligible for exemption from papers based on their educational background [more details on this can be retrieved from the respective official websites].


Besides core subject areas of accounting, auditing, and taxation, the ACCA course covers subjects pertaining to business studies, financial reporting, financial management, law, and ethical & professional standards. On the other hand, the CIMA qualification is more focused on developing business skills. The subjects it covers are business accounting, management accounting, information management, finance management, strategic marketing management, etc. The ACCA syllabus has 13 exams in total, while the CIMA has 16 exams.

Career Opportunity and Salary

An ACCA qualified professional usually starts in the job profiles of Accountant,  Financial Consultant, Tax Manager,  Finance Manager, and Internal Auditor. On the other hand, a CIMA qualified professional is best fitted in Management Accountant, Business Analyst,  Forensic Analyst,  Project Manager, and Finance Controller.

The ACCA trainees start with an average salary of £19,300 p.a., while the ACCA finalists and ACCA part-qualified can earn up to £30,700 p.a. and £25,800 p.a. respectively. On the other hand, CIMA qualified professionals get an average salary of £62,000, which can go up to £129,000 at senior levels.

Fees and Passing Rates

In terms of the cost of the examination, CIMA is slightly more expensive than ACCA. The cost of ACCA qualification comes around £1,500 – £2,000, while that of CIMA qualification is in the range of £2,500 – £3,000.

Given the historical passing rates, it is fair to say that both courses are moderately difficult. The below table captures the outcome of ACCA exams conducted during March 2020, wherein it can be seen that the Professional level is the most difficult one while the Knowledge level is the simplest one [Source: ACCA Global].

ACCA QualificationMar – 20
Applied Knowledge 
     Accountant in Business82%
     Financial Accounting73%
     Management Accounting65%
Applied Skills 
     Corporate and Business Law83%
     Financial Reporting44%
     Performance Management35%
     Financial Management44%
     Audit and Assurance36%
Strategic Professional – Essentials 
     Strategic Business Leader47%
     Strategic Business Reporting51%
Strategic Professional – Options 
     Advanced Audit and Assurance33%
     Advanced Financial Management33%
     Advanced Performance Management32%
     Advanced Taxation44%

The below table captures the outcome of CIMA exams conducted during May 2020, wherein it can be seen that except Professional level, all other levels are equal difficulty in terms of passing rates [Source: CIMA Global].

CIMA QualificationMay – 20

Exam Availability

The ACCA exams are conducted in March, June, September, and December during a year, while the CIMA exams are conducted in February, May, August, and November. The exam dates of the upcoming ACCA exams are Mar 01-05, 2021 and Jun 07-11, 2021, while the of CIMA exams are Feb 10-26, 2021, May 14-28, 2021, Aug 11-27, 2021, and Nov 10-26, 2021.

How to Enroll?

If a candidate is interested in pursuing ACCA, then he/ she should visit the official website of ACCA Global for process guidance. On the other hand, if a candidate wants to pursue CIMA,  then he/ she should register at the official website of CIMA Global.

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to ACCA vs CIMA. Here we discuss the difference between ACCA and CIMA along with the infographics and why to pursue them. We also discuss their exam requirements. You may also have a look at the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Jaxon Reece says

    Very informative and knowledgeable blog. Thanks for posting. Actually I was searching for CIMA Exam dates for this year 2017 but I didn’t found the same, I guess you have not yet updated the dates for CIMA exam 2017. I hope you will update it very soon.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks Jaxon for the feedback. Will update about CIMA 2017 shortly. Will update you soon.

  2. Thomas Drake says

    Nice one. I have also seen the related article which you have mentioned below in this blog, they all are very useful and helpful but I was also looking for the article about the differences between CFA and ACCA which you have not mentioned this blog. Please if you have any kind of case study on CFA VS ACCA then plz let me know.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks. To know the comparisons between CFA and ACCA, you can take a look at this article here CFA vs ACCA. Happy Learning!!

  3. Effiom Effiom says

    thank you. pls i need to know the 1st step

  4. Basel Alasa'ad says

    dear MR Dheeraj
    I hope you are well
    I am interesting to study both of them, but I need to know how can do it especially when I am leaving in Syria.
    can I study them by using internet.
    thank you

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