CMA vs CIMA

Updated on May 15, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Difference Between CMA and CIMA

The full form of CMA is Certified Management Accountant, and students will only need to clear one level for obtaining this degree. In contrast, the full form of CIMA is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, and the students pursuing this course will need to clear three levels for obtaining the degree of this course.

CMA exam and CIMA certification hold such lucrative opportunities for management professionals abroad that often leave many confused about what to pursue. We help you understand the differences because we understand how difficult it is to build a career as a management professional. Just read on.

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Below is the flow of the article –

What is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA)?

The CMA or Certified Management Accountant is a globally recognized certified program offered by the U.S.-based Institute of Management Accountants. This certificate is a great attribution for management professionals looking to advance their knowledge and skills in the financial management field.

The course equips a professional with skills in financial planning, analysis, control, decision support, and professional ethics. A CMA-certified professional can avail the opportunity of working in different sectors in a management capacity.

They can work in industries and organizations, including manufacturing and services, public and private enterprises, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, government entities, and multinational corporations.

What is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)?

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, a UK-based body, offers this certified course to help management professionals develop their knowledge and expertise in management accountancy. The course provides training and qualification to allow accountants to attain mastery over the subjects related to this field.

It provides a good grounding and insight into how the different areas of accounting relate to the business world. This accounting qualification is most relevant to the current times and trends of the industry, helping individuals unleash their talent and accelerate their careers in the business field.

The course is a knowledge refresher and a bridge to the CIMA Professional Qualification. CIMA-trained people work in the commerce industry, management consultancies, banks, and not-for-profit and public sector organizations.

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CMA vs. CIMA Infographics

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Educational Requirements

CMACIMA
A candidate must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to qualify for the exam.The CIMA course is open to everyone, as it is a rigorous program. A high school diploma is a minimum requisite required to become eligible for the exam. However, exemptions to the exams are provided based on the qualification of each individual.
The CMA is a two-part exam consisting of 100 multiple choice questions and two 30-minute essay questions.The CIMA course comprises 15 papers and two-hour computer-based assessment tests for each paper.

CMA vs. CIMA – Comparative Table

Section CMA   CIMA
Organizing Body The exams are managed and controlled by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), USA.   The exams are managed and controlled by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), U.K.
Pattern The course consists of 2 parts  
  • Part I – Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics
  • Part II – Strategic Financial Management
  The professional course is divided into three levels – Operational level, Management level, and Strategic level. Additionally, there is a basic qualification named Certificate in Business Accounting.
Duration of course Although candidates must complete the course within 36 months, most candidates can complete it in 12 to 18 months.   Each level takes around one year to complete so that candidates can complete the entire course in 3 to 4 years.
Syllabus The course covers the following topics
  • Financial Reporting Decisions
  • Planning, Budgeting & Forecasting
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • Cost Management
  • Performance Management
  • Internal Controls
  • Decision Analysis
  • Risk Management
  • Investment Decisions
  • Technology & Analytics
  • Professional Ethics
  The course covers the following topics.  
  • Management Accounting
  • Finance Management
  • Strategic Marketing Management
  • Business Accounting
  • Information Management
Exam Fees For professional members, the cost is $1,080, which includes an entrance fee of $250 and the exam fees of $415 per part. For students, the cost is $810, which includes an entrance fee of $188 and the exam fees of $311 per part.   The cost varies in the range of £2,500 to £3,000, including the exam fees and the cost of the required study materials.
Jobs Some of the common profiles include
  • Financial Risk Manager
  • Cost Accountant
  • Financial Consultant
  • Financial Analyst
  • Internal auditor
  Some of the common profiles include
  • Business Analyst
  • Forensic Analyst
  • Finance Controller
  • Management Accountant
  • Project Manager
Difficulty The exams are moderately difficult, as indicated by a historical pass rate of 50%. During January-February 2020, around 45% of the aspiring candidates passed Parts I and Part II exams.   The exams are moderately difficult. During May 2021, the pass rates for the three levels under professional qualification were:
  • Operational level – 46%
  • Management level – 69%
  • Strategic level – 68%
Exam Date The schedule for the upcoming exams for the year 2022 (both Part I and Part II)
  • Jan 01 – Feb 28
  • May 01 – Jun 30
  • Sep 01 – Oct 31
  The schedule for the upcoming exams for the year 2022
  • Feb 09-25
  • May 11-27
  • Aug 10-26
  • Nov 09-25

Why Pursue CMA?

  • CMA enjoys a strong global presence and is much more recognized and accepted by employers across the nation.
  • It finds favor with students and professionals alike due to its fast-paced completion.
  • The CMA course is divided into two parts, and most of the candidates complete the course in 12 to 18 months.
  • However, one must keep in mind that the minimum qualification requisite remains a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
  • CMA entitles an individual with an advantage in the job market as the course develops your decision-making capability allowing you to produce results in a critical situation for your company.
  • Also, the CMA certificate brings more visibility to a candidate’s resume and allows an employer to evaluate the professional’s ability to be suitable for higher positions in the company.
  • CMA is a course that specifically targets improving your skillset and thus is a much more relevant educational experience.
  • The CMA course study is very relevant to modern-day situations, and it does not limit its scope for financial professionals. The very obvious reason is CMA designation holders are paid 30% more than their non-certified colleagues, and it is a must to do the course if you want to build your career in corporate accounting.

Why Pursue CIMA?

  • Traditionally, it is a known fact that CIMA enjoys a better global presence than CMA due to its tie-up with CommonWealth countries. Thus employers understand the experience, knowledge, skills, and professional commitment that a CIMA will bring to the table.
  • Moreover, the course is designed to impart financial education to the candidates and equip them with the skills in business management, capable of advising on business strategy and risk management.
  • CIMA boosts your earning potential while preparing you for roles in the business and finance sectors. Also, CIMA is not rigid in its idea of the prerequisites required to be eligible for the exam. Thus a wide range of professionals are open to give the exam, creating wider job opportunities.

Conclusion

There is neither an easy qualification nor a better one, which makes it easy and better is your dedication and determination to achieve it. Thus make your decision wisely, keeping your long terms in mind before choosing a program for yourself.

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Comments

  1. Oladipupo Bajulaiye says

    with cima qualification Bsc in Soil science am qualify to sit for CFA examination

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Yes ofcourse. My take is any graduation would do. However, please do check with the CFA Institute first on this.

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