CMA vs CIMA: Which is Better to Pursue?

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If you are new to finance or have been in the industry for years, then you know the immense scope in this field. There are endless options available and choosing the right career path can be a very stressful process.
USA CMA and CIMA UK, both courses can be excellent career paths to gain global exposure, high salaries, and build a strong network.
If you're confused between CIMA vs CMA, which course is better and struggling to choose your career path, let us help ease your decision with a deep dive into both courses:


Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a certification program in financial accounting and strategic financial management.
CMA USA is offered by the globally recognized Institute of Management Accountants, USA. It focuses on imparting in-depth knowledge of various aspects of management accounting.
Any CMA-certified professional can fill a variety of roles from financial managers to cost accountants to financial strategists. They are bound to receive higher salaries and global exposure than their non-CMA counterparts.


The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is a course that offers training and skills in management accounting and other related subjects. CIMA is a body based in the UK.
CIMA differentiates the management accountant from the traditional accountant and aims to inform people about the importance of management accountants.
A management accountant analyses data forecasts, creates budgets to aid management decision-making, produces reports for internal use, and helps assess and manage risk.

Understanding the key differences between US CMA and CIMA

Eligibility criteria

When it comes to eligibility criteria, in CMA or CIMA, CMA certification must have a bachelor's degree and a minimum of 2 years of relevant professional experience.
To enrol in CIMA, a candidate must complete 12th grade and must pass 16 papers. Completion of ACCA or MBA exempts the candidate from having to submit several documents. After submitting all 14 papers and 3 case studies, the candidate must have 3 years of professional work experience to obtain the CIMA certification.

CIMA vs CMA: Subjects 

CMA includes two pillars:
Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
External Financial Reporting Decisions-15%
Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting-20%
Performance Management-20%
Cost Management-15%
Internal Controls-15%
Technology and Analytics-15%

Part 2: Strategic Financial Management
Financial Statement Analysis-20%
Corporate Finance-20%
Decision Analysis-25%
Risk Management-10%
Investment Decision-10%
Professional Ethics-15%

CIMA focuses on 4 pillars:
Certification Level:
Fundamentals of Business Economics, Fundamentals of Management Accounting, Fundamentals of Ethics, Business Law and Corporate Governance, and Fundamentals of Financial Accounting
Operational Level: 
Organizational Management, Management Accounting, and Financial Reporting and Taxation
Managerial Level:
Project And Relationship Management, Advanced Management Accounting, and Advanced Financial Reporting
Strategic Level:
Strategic Management, Risk Management, and Financial Strategy

CMA vs CIMA: Exam structure and pattern

There are 100 MCQs and 2 Essay type questions for the CMA Exam for both Part 1 and Part 2 of the exam. The total duration of the exam is four hours, with 3 hours to complete the MCQs and 1 hour to complete the essay-type questions.
For CIMA papers, there is a two-hour computer-based assessment that can be taken in any month (subject to exam centre availability). Results are announced immediately.
You have 180 minutes to answer the case study questions, and the result is announced one month after the exam. The case study can be completed four times a year, in February, May, August, and November.

Time investment

The CMA course can be completed within three years from the date of your registration. But the average candidate will complete it within 6-8 months.
While CIMA can take 3-4 years to complete before all levels are approved.
For CIMA, a candidate has to spend an average of about 35-60 hours preparing for each paper, while on the other hand, a CMA candidate has to spend 150 hours per section.

Exemptions in CIMA 

Exemptions in CIMA after CA inter
A candidate who already has CA certification and is a member of ICAI is exempted from 16 out of 17 papers for India. Such a candidate must attempt only one strategic case study assessment. After one examination, a candidate must have three years of professional experience for CIMA membership.
Exemptions for CIMA after ACCA or MBA
Those candidates who hold an MBA or ACCA certification will be exempted from writing the first 11 papers of the CIMA UK program. A candidate must pass the CIMA Gateway exam to be eligible for the exemption. Post the exemption qualification; the candidate can start directly from the strategic level. Persons exempt from certain documents will have to pay tax exemption.

CMA vs CIMA: Job opportunities 

The world of finance is growing rapidly and there is a huge demand for professionals looking for corporate careers.
With a CIMA UK degree, you could be employed in roles such as accountant, management accountant, accounting assistant, business analyst, financial data analyst, etc.
On the other hand, after CMA job opportunities for USA CMA holder could get roles like budget analyst, internal auditor, risk manager, cost accountant, financial controller, etc.

Salary Trends

CIMA and CMA USA are both online trends that only show the country's average salaries. However, you can earn more depending on your company and other qualifications you bring to the table.
A CMA holder can earn up to $100,000 per year as a fresher. This could be anywhere between 4 to 6 million per year in India.
A CIMA Certified Accountant earns an average salary of up to £63,000 per annum, while one can earn anywhere up to 10 Lakhs per annum in India.

CIMA vs CMA: Which is better to pursue?

Both USA CMA and CIMA are better choices that can be used to develop expertise in areas of finance. Choosing any of these courses is bound to lead to high salaries, better job opportunities, and even internships abroad.
The final decision to choose between CIMA or CMA US should be based solely on your interest. You need to make a list of all the aspects that will work in your favor when making this extremely important decision.

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