Difference Between CMA and ACCA

CMA (Certified Management Accountant) is a comprehensive professional program organized by the ICMA and the aspirants who opt to pursue this degree will get a detailed insight of financial management as well as the management accounting whereas ACCA (Association of Chartered Accountants) is a comprehensive professional program conducted by the global body of ACCA the candidates with this degree are regarded as the best accountants around the globe as the course focuses on strengthening the candidate’s base of accounting principles which is really useful in the fields of audit and tax.

The best decisions should not be made in haste. Because most of the time when you choose in a hurry, your decision becomes costly. Thus, we want you to take your time to read the details below before choosing what suits you best – CMA certificationCMA CertificationCMA is a certificate course offered by the IMA. Here are a few exam tips: 1) Don't panic if you don't know the answer 2) Don't get distracted during the multiple-choice section. 3) Keep track of the time and increase your more or ACCA certificationACCA CertificationACCA 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.

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Here’s the flow of the article –

  1. What is the Certified Management Accountant (CMA)?
  2. What is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)?
  3. Infographics
  4. Key Differences
  5. Why pursue CMA?
  6. Why pursue ACCA?

What is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA)?

CMA is one of the most reputed management accounting courses all over the world. It’s more popular in the USA, but it has a presence of over 100 countries. Its reputation has brought forth a lot of students under its umbrella and ICMA has produced a ton of high-quality students over the years. It’s being seen that if you do CMA, you would earn almost 1/3rd more than your non-certified counterparts.

  • Most domains in finance concentrate on the subject of the certification only. But CMA is different. It focuses on management accounting as well as financial management. Thus CMA is more comprehensive than any other course in the financial domain.
  • Sitting for CMA is more convenient for students. It has over 100 examination centers all over the world and you just need to clear two exams to get certified. Even each exam is only of 4 hours duration.

What is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)?

ACCA is one of the best accounting certification courses. ACCA has been training and educating students for a long time.

Over 436,000 students have already passed out doing ACCA and they all are employed in reputed companies. What makes ACCA more dignified is its presence over 180 countries.
  • Like CMA, the curriculum of ACCA is also very comprehensive. It not only deals with the finance domain, but it also emphasizes technical and management aspects of finance as well.
  • ACCA has a great global presence. Moreover, you would get a world-class education under a very short budget which is rare. And once you complete the course, you would be recognized as one of the best accountants in the world. Even companies prefer ACCA more than anyone in the accounting domain.
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CMA vs ACCA Infographics

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Key Differences Between CMA and ACCA

There are many differences between CMA and ACCA. Let’s have a glance at all of them.

  • Fees: If you want to get a global certification within a short budget, you should choose ACCA over CMA. Because the fees for CMA are much more than ACCA; the fees of CMA are almost three times of ACCA.
  • Global presence: If you compare international recognition, ACCA is a more recognized course than CMA. Till now, ACCA has produced over 436,000 students over 180 countries. Whereas, CMA has produced only 40,000 members and has a global presence over 100 countries.
  • Salary difference: There is a huge difference in salary if we compare between ACCA and CMA. As we’re telling you that ACCA is much more globally recognized than CMA, in terms of salary CMA is much ahead of ACCA. If you complete your CMA, you would be able to get an average salary of almost US $70,000 per year if you have experienced between 1 to 5 years in the domain. Whereas, if you complete your ACCA, you would be able to earn on the average US $46,000 per year. If you do the math, you can see completing CMA is much more beneficial to you in terms of compensation.
  • Pass percentages: If you look closely (details below), you would see that CMA is much tougher than passing ACCA. How would you know? Look at the pass percentages. The pass percentages for CMA is near to 20% whereas, pass percentages for ACCA is on an average 40-50%. No wonder why CMAs get more salary than ACCA!
  • Value addition: If you complete CMA, you would be treated as an expert in the field and many opportunities will open up for you. ACCA is good enough but much older in perspective. Thus, Fortune 500 companies look for CMAs more than ACCAs.

CMA vs ACCA Comparative Table

Certification Organised byCMA is approved and sponsored by Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA). ICMA is affiliated by Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). ICMA has more than 40,000 members in 100 countries.ACCA course is organized by the global body of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. It was founded in 1904.
Number of levelsCMA has only one level to clear. The level has two parts. Part one is about Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance, and Control and Part two is all about Financial Decision Making.If you would like to qualify as an ACCA, you need to clear four levels – knowledge, skills, essentials, and options. There is a total of 14 papers altogether.
Mode/Duration of ExamIn CMA, you need to sit for two exams. Each exam will consist of 4 hours duration and each exam will contain 100 multiple choice questions and two 30 minute essay questions.Other than the first 3 papers under Knowledge level, the duration of all exams is of 3 hours each. The first 3 papers under the Knowledge level are of 2 hours duration each.
Exam WindowCMA Exam Dates 2022
Jan 1 to Feb 28
May 1 to Jun 30
Sep 1 to Oct 31
ACCA is conducted in June, September, and December every year.

Key dates 2022
March:- 7-11
June:- 06-10
SubjectsCMA has only one level, but the level consists of two parts. Each part consists of many subject areas. Let’s have a look at those.
Part one:
1. External Financial Reporting Decision
2. Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting
3. Performance Management
4. Cost Management
5. Internal Controls
Part two:
1. Financial Statement Analysis
2. Corporate Finance
3. Decision Analysis
4. Risk Management
5. Investment Decisions
6. Professional Ethics
The subjects for ACCA are as follows –
Knowledge Level:
1. Accountant in Business (F1)
2. Management Accounting (F2)
3. Financial Accounting (F3)
Skills Level:
1. Corporate and Business Law (F4)
2. Performance Management (F5)
3. Taxation (F6)
4. Financial Reporting (F7)
5. Audit and Assurance (F8)
6. Financial Management (F9)
Essentials Level:
1. Governance, Risk and Ethics (P1)
2. Corporate Reporting (P2)
3. Business Analysis (P3)
Pass PercentagePassing percentage of June 2015 exam:
CMA Intermediate- 14%
CMA Final- 17%

Passing Percentage of December 2016 exam:
CMA Intermediate- 9.09%
CMA Final- 12.71%
ACCA December 2015 pass rates: 84% (F1), 64% (F2), 68% (F3), 74% (F4), 41% (F5), 53% (F6), 45% (F7), 46% (F8), 45% (F9) and 47% (P1), 47% (P2), 47% (P3), 35% (P4), 29% (P5), 42% (P6), 39% (P7).
ACCA December 2016 pass rates: F1 82%; F2 63%; F3 71%; F4 82%; F5 40%; F6 52%; F7 50%; F8 40%; F9 45%; P1 49%; P2 51%; P3 49%; P4 33%; P5 30%; P6 34%; P7 31%
FeesAfter the price increase in July 2015, the registration fee of the exam is now $415 per part, which means you’ll have to pay $830 altogether.The fees for ACCA are reasonable. If you do your registration for each exam early, then it would be around 450 pounds (around the US $700).
Job opportunities/Job titlesThe top jobs for CMA are Management & Cost Accountant, Financial Accountant, Financial Risk Manager, Management Consulting & Performance Management, etc. People also hire CMA for their overall financial decision-making functions.Once you complete ACCA, multiple opportunities will open up for you. You can join Accounting firms, Educational & Training companies, FMCG sectors, Financial Services & Consulting companies, and even in Healthcare.

Why pursue CMA?

40,000 students in a span of 40 years cannot be wrong. They pursued CMA and now they are top-notch professionals in Fortune 500 companies. An industry professional who has a career goal to do something in the accounting domain should not let go of CMA if she really wants to make her mark.

  • CMA doesn’t only concentrate on developing countries; it also takes care of the students in developed countries. Thus, CMA in its truest sense a global course, not the sole domain of American and European students. IMA has its students in the Middle East, China, and India along with students in the USA & Europe.
  • It has an incredible history of placement. Once you complete your CMA, you will be equipped with the skills and knowledge base to join in any Fortune 500 companies. You will not only feel like an expert on the field, but you will also feel dignified.
  • Not only a great placement, but CMA certification also offers compensation very few global courses can offer. The average salary per year after you pass out doing CMA is around the US $70,000. All you need is a CMA certification and one to five years of experience in the field.

Why pursue ACCA?

ACCA is available in 180 countries and thus it has an international recognition very few global courses can compete with. It has also more than 436,000 students who have already proved why you should pursue this course.

  • ACCA is of much shorter duration. If you want to get a global degree within a short stint of 2 years, you can definitely choose ACCA. Moreover, the fees for this course are also a boon for students who want to pursue a global course within a limited budget.
  • ACCA is much easier to complete than any other course in the finance domain. That doesn’t mean that ACCA has no value. It has been serving its students since 1904, more than 110+ years. No institute can last so long without adding value to its students.


If you ask which course you should choose that would be a wrong question. Your question should be which suits your career goals best. If you know that you need to reach a certain point, after reading this, you would definitely know in which direction you should go.

Even if you have a budget constraint, it’s advisable that you shouldn’t go for a course just because of cost/ less cost. Rather do it for value. Which course would give you more value? Ask yourself this question and base your decision on the answer you give to yourself.

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This has been a guide to CMA vs ACCA. Here we discuss the differences between CMA and ACCA along with infographics and comparative table. You may also have a look at the following articles –

Reader Interactions


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