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Deciding between studying ACCA or CIMA is a frequently asked question, and providing a straightforward answer isn’t simple. Both certifications hold high regard in the accounting sphere, offering pathways to rewarding and prosperous careers. If you’re mapping out your accounting career, the choice between ACCA and CIMA qualifications is likely on your radar. These two certifications cater to distinct accounting career paths, prompting the need for careful consideration.

Delve into this ACCA vs CIMA guide to streamline your decision-making process. Explore the fundamental distinctions between ACCA and CIMA, assessing factors like duration and difficulty levels. Navigate through the various levels of these accounting qualifications, gaining insights that will aid you in determining whether ACCA or CIMA aligns better with your career goals.

If you decide to pursue ACCA studies

Opting for the ACCA qualification can significantly elevate your prospects in the dynamic realms of accounting and finance. This globally recognized certification not only commands prestige but also unlocks a plethora of enticing opportunities spanning various industries.

The ACCA qualification’s international acclaim is a valuable asset, particularly if you aspire to carve a niche in the global job market. Possessing an ACCA certification not only enhances your professional stature but also boosts your employability, making it a strategic choice for those eyeing international career pathways.

If you decide to pursue CIMA studies

In the fiercely competitive landscape of accounting, choosing ACCA sets you on a trajectory of limitless potential, both within the professional practice and beyond. Prepare yourself for a rewarding journey by tapping into the boundless opportunities that ACCA brings to the table.

Choosing to pursue CIMA places you on the cutting edge of shaping the future cadre of finance and management professionals. CIMA, committed to revolutionizing and enhancing conventional financial management approaches, provides its members with a wide array of chances to cultivate skills that extend beyond the curriculum of top-tier business schools globally.

By gaining a deeper comprehension of accounting standards and regulations and harnessing a comprehensive set of investment analysis tools, CIMA members enjoy the advantage of tapping into an expansive network of industry specialists and abundant resources.

Comparative Table – ACCA vs CIMA

Organizing bodyAssociation of Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA)Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)

Divided into three levels

Knowledge Level

Skills Level

Professional Level

Divided into four levels

Operational Level

Management Level

Strategic Level

Professional Level

Duration of courseThree yearsThree years
SyllabusAccounting & Auditing


Financial Management

Financial Reporting

Ethical & Professional Standards
Business Accounting

Management Accounting

Information Management

Finance Management

Strategic Marketing Management
Exam Fees£1,500 – £2,000£2,500 – £3,000

Financial Consultant

Tax Manager

Finance Manager

Internal Auditor
Management Accountant

Business Analyst

Forensic Analyst

Project Manager

Finance Controller
Exam DatesSep 05-09, 2022

Dec 05-09, 2022
Feb 09-25, 2022

May 11-27, 2022

Aug 10-26, 2022

Nov 09-25, 2022


ACCA vs CIMA – Which is Better?

This is a very common question and unfortunately there is no simple answer. There is no doubt that both certifications help secure some of the most sought-after jobs in finance and accounting. ACCA emphasizes advanced tax principles and external audits and prepares candidates to work independently or in private finance-focused firms. On the other hand, CIMA helps candidates prepare for the business side of accounting with a flair for managerial knowledge.

Skills Obtained

After becoming ACCA certified, a candidate will gain a deeper understanding of the technical side of financial accounting. On the other hand, a CIMA candidate who passes the exam develops excellent strategic and business management skills.


Both courses require a similar amount of time to complete. For ACCA, candidates must pass 13 professional exams and three years of supervised accounting experience. If candidates manage their work and studies at the same time, they can complete the ACCA qualification in three years. On the other hand, CIMA candidates must complete 16 papers and three years of relevant work experience to successfully complete the CIMA qualification. 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 must complete high school to be eligible for the ACCA exam. In contrast, CIMA exams need a candidate to graduate from any discipline from a recognized university. In addition, both the ACCA and CIMA qualifications require the candidate to have three years of relevant work experience. Finally, it should be noted that candidates are eligible for exemption from papers based on their educational background.


In addition to the core areas of accounting, auditing and taxation, the ACCA course covers business studies, financial reporting, financial management, law and ethical and professional standards. On the other hand, the CIMA qualification focuses on developing business skills. Its subjects are business accounting, management accounting, information management, financial management, strategic marketing management, etc. ACCA syllabus has 13 exams while CIMA has 16 exams.

Career Opportunity and Salary

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

ACCA trainees start on an average salary of £19,300 p.a., while ACCA finalists and ACCA part-qualifiers can earn up to £30,700 p.a. and £25,800 p.a. respectively. On the other hand, CIMA qualified professionals receive an average salary of £62,000, rising to £129,000 at higher levels.

Fees and Passing Rates of ACCA and CIMA

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

Based on historical graduation rates, both courses can be said to be moderately difficult. The table below shows the results of the ACCA exams conducted during March 2022, where we can see that the Professional level is the most difficult, while the Knowledge level is the easiest.

ACCA QualificationMar – 22
Applied Knowledge 
     Accountant in Business83%
     Financial Accounting71%
     Management Accounting67%
Applied Skills 
     Corporate and Business Law85%
     Financial Reporting50%
     Performance Management40%
     Financial Management50%
     Audit and Assurance44%
Strategic Professional – Essentials 
     Strategic Business Leader50%
     Strategic Business Reporting46%
Strategic Professional – Options 
     Advanced Audit and Assurance33%
     Advanced Financial Management43%
     Advanced Performance Management34%
     Advanced Taxation38%

The table below shows the results of the CIMA exams conducted during February 2022. Apart from the Professional level, all other levels are equally difficult in terms of pass rate.

CIMA QualificationFeb -22


Exam Availability

ACCA exams are held in March, June, September and December, while CIMA exams are held in February, May, August and November.


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