How to choose between ACCA or CIMA?

How to choose between ACCA or CIMA?


Choosing either ACCA or CIMA can open more doors from AAT studying or through an accountancy degree. But the question you are probably thinking is which one do I choose?

To kick start your accountancy career you are doing the right thing in considering a further qualification with one of these national bodies. Both ACCA and CIMA will allow you to join exciting businesses within interesting industries.

ACCA and CIMA are highly respected and will give your career a huge boost but each one has its own strength to reaching your career goal. To help you decide there are a few things to consider:

Match the qualification to your career goal:

The best place to start is to think where do I see myself in the next 5-10 years? Both ACCA and CIMA is an investment with both time and money and you don’t want to start going down the wrong path to your career success. CIMA is a specialised management accounting qualification, which is great for those looking to get involved with management accounts and managing a team.

ACCA on the other hand, is more of a broader qualification and will allow you to choose the areas you would like to specialise in. It is great for those that know finance is defiantly the career for them but not necessarily know what industry and want to keep their options open.

Where can you see yourself working?

ACCA and CIMA are widely recognised qualifications that will turn finance decision makers heads. The qualification shows you are serious about your career and you want to invest to make sure your career is a success.

Once a qualified CIMA candidate you will be entitled to use the designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) and will make you part of the international network and will earn you recognition across the industry. CIMA holder job roles include business manager, financial analyst, and financial director. 

ACCA is accepted in over 100 countries including accountancy bodies and once qualified you will be entitled to use ACCA proudly after your name. Graduates of the ACCA qualification go on to become financial accountants, auditors, and tax advisors. 

Who would you like to work for?

This is most probably the biggest decision you will need to think about as this is the difference between ACCA and CIMA. The reason why is because CIMA focuses on management accounts within business and it is most commonly used by larger corporations . It prepares you with skills that will enable you to work across different functions and will get you to think in a strategic way for the needs of the business – which is a huge benefit for larger employers.

ACCA broader studying will allow you to work in many sectors as it prepares you to be a self-employed accountant or within a charted industry where you will work with clients. ACCA offers you the opportunity to build your studies and to focus on areas you want to specialise in.     

How do I make the next step?

You must be thinking how do I start studying with ACCA or CIMA?

If you are looking to start your finance journey with ACCA the minimum criteria are two A-levels and three GCSE’S in five separate subjects including English and Maths. To achieve the qualification, you must complete 13 exams, depending on prior experience and qualifications:

  • complete an Ethics and Professional Skills module

  • evidence three years of practical work experience within a relevant role.

Students can complete the ACCA Qualification in a minimum of three years. 

If you are looking to start your finance journey with CIMA the minimum criteria are CIMA certificate in Business Accounting, degrees in business or accounting or AAT Technician/Diploma level level 4

To achieve the qualification, you must complete 12 exams across 3 levels, (certificate, operational and management) with most students able to complete up to 4 papers each year. On average, it takes most students 3-4 years to complete the Professional qualification.

A finance career in property management?

The industry is always looking for progressive individuals who really want to make a difference. Want some more information or not sure how to join an interesting industry? Contact our team who would be happy to help.



Hello, I a interested in Forensic Accounting or a finance career in property management. Which one would be better suited to studying with ACCA or CIMA? Thank you very much. Kind regards, Helen
Posted on Thursday, March 11, 2021 19:50 by Helen Schwertl
Hi Philip, thank you for commenting on our blog. We would be happy to discuss this further. My email address is or 02039000401
Posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 09:12 by Alice Cadfan-Lewis
I'm confused on what to do as people are saying CIMA is not that relevant to Sierra Leoneans. As an Auditor working for the Apex Bank i really love doing CIMA than that of an ACCA since it has become too common in our country. Please advice me further.
Posted on Monday, July 20, 2020 22:58 by Philip Salifu Conteh

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