ACCA or CIMA Which is better for Your Career?

Introduction of ACCA and CIMA

Both ACCA and CIMA are excellent professional organizations to join, but which one will advance your career the most over the long run? It all boils down to what you want to do with your life. This article will examine the differences between ACCA and CIMA certifications to help you decide which is better for your career. You will thoroughly compare the various career paths, typical incomes, course content, knowledge, and abilities for both the courses, ACCA or CIMA.

What is ACCA?

In professional accounting, the ACCA qualification is regarded as the most widely recognized. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, or ACCA as it is more often known, is a worldwide recognized organization with over 200,000 members and 600,000 students in more than 180 nations. Business & Technology, Management Accounting, and Financial Accounting are all included in ACCA examinations. After completing high school or the 12th grade, the degree can be pursued. Additionally, by enrolling in the FIA (Foundation In Accountancy), you can begin the ACCA course as soon as you complete your 10th class test.

What is CIMA?

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, or CIMA, is a UK-based international management accounting organization (United Kingdom). It provides credentials and training in management accounting and associated fields. Beyond principle-based accounting, the CIMA certification helps professionals prepare for ongoing change by giving them the knowledge and abilities to act strategically when the company environment changes. Holders of the CIMA certification are employed in fields such as project financing, treasury, risk management, corporate finance, financial and business analysis, and financial reporting.
Now we will start understanding both the courses to decide ACCA or CIMA, which would be a better choice for your career.

Difference Between ACCA & CIMA 

Both ACCA and CIMA are well-known credentials in accounting and finance. Both certification programs are tailored to certain job profiles, so students must choose based on their professional goals.
Both credentials, be it ACCA or CIMA, serve two very different goals, despite their prestige and numerous similarities. The ACCA develops the criteria to categorize professionals who carry out auditing and accounting tasks. They are concentrating on building a high degree of credibility, work quality, and ethical procedures to enhance the public's view of their job and their dependability. In contrast, CIMA wants to help executives grow and change into genuine business partners who want to use strategy, operations, and enterprise to succeed. In essence, the ACCA concentrates on how a firm reports, whereas CIMA focuses on how a corporation runs.
The ACCA course is broken down into three levels:
  • Applied knowledge
  • Applied skills
  • Strategic professional.
The CIMA course is divided into four levels:
  • Operational level
  • Management level
  • Strategic level
  • Professional level
There is also a difference in the exam structure of both courses. The ACCA exam can stretch between 2-3 hours, based on paper and subject. The CIMA exam consists of 90 minutes of objective examinations and a case study that takes three hours. For ACCA, the pass rate is between 30 and 40 percent, whereas, for CIMA, it is between 35 and 46 percent.
Now, we shall compare and contrast the recently popularized credentials ACCA or CIMA.

ACCA vs. CIMA - Quick Facts and Syllabus

Quick Facts 
Organizing bodyAssociation of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
Duration of course3 Years3 Years
EligibilityHigher SecondaryHigher Secondary
PatternDivided into three levelsApplied Knowledge LevelApplied Skills LevelStrategic Professional LevelDivided into four levelsOperational LevelManagement LevelStrategic LevelProfessional Level
Number of Exams14 Exams17 Exams
JobsAccountantFinancial ConsultantTax ManagerFinance ManagerInternal AuditorForensic AnalystProject ManagerFinance ControllerManagement Accountant


Accounting & AuditingTaxationFinancial ManagementFinancial ReportingEthical & ProfessionalBusiness AccountingManagement AccountingInformation ManagementFinance ManagementStrategic Marketing Management
Syllabus of ACCA or CIMA. Here ACCA, in contrast, has a tendency to place a greater emphasis on technical accountancy procedures and financial accounting. CIMA blends business knowledge with financial, cost, and financial management. A major emphasis is placed on performance management and strategy. ACCA concentrates more on the technical side, such as auditing and tax accounting, whereas CIMA emphasizes a corporation's managerial and strategic components. CIMA collaborates with the management of the firm, whereas ACCA often works with outside stakeholders like shareholders and potential investors.

ACCA or CIMA, Which one to choose?  

CIMA and ACCA are both highly renowned and may turn the minds of any business looking for the ideal professional expertise. At the same time, both might provide a wide range of chances worldwide. While both certifications ACCA or CIMA credentials, might improve your professional chances, you should first ask yourself your career goals before deciding which credential to pursue. Your long-term objectives will have a big impact on which of the two certifications you choose. As already indicated, CIMA has a stronger strategic and business focus than ACCA, which is more focused on technical accounting skills.
The professions of management accountant, analyst, and financial controller are just a few of the areas where having a CIMA certificate would be advantageous. They would also be suitable for senior leadership positions in a business or financial department. Your career would flourish as a consultant, accountant, or finance manager if you had an ACCA certificate. Additionally, it would be appropriate for specialized positions in accounting practice or as a component of the finance function, like tax or audit. One must consider where they want to work in their profession and ensure that the degree program they select is recognized and the greatest match for the area.

Duration of ACCA and CIMA?

Both courses require roughly the same amount of time to finish. Both the ACCA and CIMA have a three-year professional work experience requirement; thus, both will need about three years of education to get completely qualified.
The applicants can finish the ACCA of 13+1 exams in around three years if they can balance employment and education simultaneously. However, to successfully finish the CIMA qualification, students must pass 16 exams and have three years of relevant job experience. So, even with CIMA, applicants may finish the course in three years, provided they manage their careers and study adequately.

Is CIMA Harder than ACCA?

Some may claim the CIMA certification is more difficult than the ACCA credential. It is reasonable to state that both courses, ACCA or CIMA, are somewhat difficult, given the past passing rates. If we examine the pass percentages for recent test sittings, it appears that the ACCA may be more difficult to pass. Based on the CIMA Nov. 21 and ACCA Dec. 21 sittings, the following data is provided:
  • The first level of CIMA has a pass rate of 52% compared to 73% for the ACCA equivalent.
  • The pass rate for the second CIMA level was 73%, compared to 52% for the ACCA equivalent.
  • The final stage CIMA pass rate was 67%, compared to 40% for the final ACCA stage.
Compared to the ACCA December '21 sitting, which had an overall mean average of 55%, the CIMA November 21 sitting had an average overall pass rate of 64%.

Level Comparison of ACCA and CIMA Course?

Both credentials are divided into three levels. The papers you'll attempt will serve as a simple method to distinguish between what you'll cover in each. Even though the two have certain similarities, you can see how each credential provides you the choice to concentrate on finance specializations for ACCA or a more strategic and business emphasis for CIMA.
Level 1Business & Technology Management AccountingFinancial AccountingManaging Finance in a Digital WorldManagement AccountingFinancial Reporting
Level 2Audit and AssuranceCorporate Business LawFinancial ManagementFinancial ReportingPerformance ManagementTaxationManaging PerformanceAdvanced Management AccountingAdvanced Financial ReportingFinal level
Level 3Strategic Business LeaderStrategic Business ReportingAdvanced Audit and Assurance (Optional)Advanced Financial Management (Optional)Advanced Performance Management (Optional)Advanced Taxation (Optional)Strategic ManagementRisk ManagementFinancial Strategy

Is CIMA better than ACCA?

It solely depends on what you hope to achieve in terms of education and professional objectives. CIMA isn't inherently superior to ACCA or vice versa when comparing the two degrees on their own. Conversely, CIMA may be ideal if you want to pursue managerial and strategic responsibilities, depending on your professional ambitions and what you want from a certificate. However, ACCA can be better if you want specialized accounting knowledge and abilities.

Can I Pursue ACCA or CIMA via an apprenticeship?

It is possible. Several alternatives are available when it comes to learning ACCA or CIMA across various training providers. While the cost of earning the ACCA or CIMA certificate may be a hurdle for some, there is the possibility of earning these professional degrees through an apprenticeship, with training expenses covered by your company. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Which is more difficult, ACCA or CIMA?
Ans. In many ways, they are both challenging. ACCA works with more statistics than CIMA, and ACCA contains Tax and Audit papers that CIMA does not cover in depth. ACCA demands a lot of theoretical knowledge in the question, but CIMA wants more practical application than theory. The choice of which program to enroll in should be dependent on your desired area of concentration; the ACCA program is more accountancy-focused, while CIMA is more business-focused. Of course, in the end, your choice of qualification will matter less than your professional experience. 
  1. Who earns more, ACCA or CIMA?
Ans. Both ACCA and CIMA are UK-based qualifications. Either career would provide you with fantastic chances and a nice pay package. Earning more is entirely dependent on one's hard work, experience, and, most importantly, devotion and efficiency toward one's task. The average income for ACCA trainees is �19,300 per year, whereas the average salaries for ACCA finalists and ACCA part-qualified are �30,700 per year and �25,800 per year, respectively. CIMA-qualified professionals, on the other hand, earn an average income of �62,000, rising to �129,000 at senior levels.
  1. ACCA or CIMA, Which accounting qualification is best?
Ans. A candidate acquires a better knowledge of the technical aspect of financial accounting after becoming a certified ACCA. A CIMA-qualified applicant, on the other hand, develops exceptional strategic and business management abilities. Before choosing one of the two excellent, well-known courses, you must determine your area of interest.
  1. Is CIMA good after ACCA?
Ans. The ACCA is a globally recognized accounting qualification. The distinction when choosing ACCA or CIMA is that ACCA includes auditing, whereas CIMA does not. CIMA exemptions are available to ACCA students who have passed all of their examinations. If you pass all of your ACCA examinations, you might be free from eleven CIMA tests.
  1. How long does CIMA take after ACCA?
Ans. On average, students need a year or more to complete CIMA after ACCA.
  1. Is CIMA a chartered accountant?
Ans. CA, Chartered Accountancy, trains candidates for private practice, financial reporting, auditing, and tax concerns. CIMA, on the other hand, prepares you for a career in business. And to collaborate as a whole, not just inside finance. CIMA offers strategic company management skills based on good accounting basics.
  1. Which professional course is best after ACCA?
Ans. After earning your ACCA, the finest postgraduate degree to advance your financial professional is the CFA. You will join the Big Four and other world-class organizations as a result. CFA places more emphasis on the financial aspect than the management aspect.
  1. Is CIMA worth doing?
Ans. The CIMA course is the best option for you if you want a career that involves working in finance. The fact that the CIMA Certification in India is a widely respected certificate is the primary advantage of CIMA.
  1. Is CIMA difficult?
Ans. CIMA is a difficult endeavor that progressively becomes more difficult with each step. The CIMA exam questions are frequently rather random. Your capacity to apply and link what you have learned to real-world situations in the corporate and international financial world and develop your own analysis and solution will be tested. The CIMA F2 is among the toughest tests you'll have to prepare for. The passing percentage is just 57%, and on top of that, the subject is one that most management accountants don't utilize in the workplace, so everything is probably new and difficult to relate to.


As we go through the article, we discover that there is no superior qualification between ACCA and CIMA alternatives. Both have their own set of guidelines that a professional must adhere to and master. Whether ACCA or CIMA, these are both internationally recognized, highly valued degrees in finance and accounting that are widely recognized.
The top training courses for all accounting certifications, such as ACCA, are offered at NorthStar Academy. Our professionals will assist applicants in understanding every procedure and idea required for these certifications. We provide frequent help to candidates by holding online and offline sessions and providing them with revised and well-organized study material.
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