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Choosing Between ACCA and CIMA

Online Accounting Student

If you are looking to attain an accounting qualification, you may be wondering which direction to take. But with so many options available – how do you know you are making the right choice? 

Two of the most prestigious professional accounting qualifications to choose from are the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). Both of these qualifications require three years of relevant work experience and can be completed over a period of three to four years. Though they both vary in content, both qualifications do cover financial accounting, financial reporting, taxation basics, and accounting ethics.

But what is the difference between ACCA and CIMA exactly?  Read on to find answers to some of the most common questions about studying ACCA and CIMA tuition courses online.

CIMA or ACCA, which is better?

This is a common question, but not so easy to answer. If you are more interested in the business side of accounting, and would like to gain essential management expertise, then CIMA will better prepare you for this role. ACCA, on the other hand, focuses more on advanced taxation principles and external auditing procedures, which means ACCA graduates are better prepared for working either independently or in private firms in finance-specific practice.

Which qualification provides the best employment prospects?

Though both qualifications are globally recognised, ACCA is more transferrable across a range of industries, as the topics covered are wider in scope. CIMA, on the other hand, provides you with specialised knowledge in areas of management accounting, corporate decision-making, and strategy building.

Which qualification is harder, CIMA or ACCA?

The CIMA qualification is more demanding, as it does not let you move forward until you pass one set of exams, compared with ACCA which allows you to study towards multiple sets of exams simultaneously. This qualification is more challenging overall, and for this reason, it is highly respected by employers.

What are my career options?

Graduates of the ACCA qualification go on to become financial accountants, auditors, and tax advisors, whereas typical job titles for CIMA holders include business manager, financial analyst, and financial director.

What are the entry requirements?

To study ACCA, you must have at least two A level and three GCSEs in different subjects to start at the Fundamentals level. If you have a degree from an ACCA accredited university, you may be able to start directly at the Professional level. Your previous education may also exempt you from some exams.

To study CIMA, you can start at the Certificate or Professional level. No previous qualifications are required to start at the Certificate level, and your existing credentials may allow you to advance to the CIMA Professional qualification and claim exemption from some papers.

Can I study ACCA or CIMA online?

Yes, you can take comfort in knowing that both qualifications can be studied via online accounting courses, which means that you can now advance your career flexibly at the time and location that suits you, so you don’t have to worry about interrupting your personal commitments.