CIMA vs ACCA – Which should I pick?

CIMA vs ACCA is an ongoing decision that people have to make when embarking on their accountancy career. So which one should you pick? While it does depend on the career path you take, I would generally recommend CIMA if you wish to begin your career working inside a business.

Both qualifications are highly regarded and will open the door to many lucrative careers in finance. I have worked with highly paid (think six figure) finance directors who have had both qualifications.

Too help you with your decision on CIMA vs ACCA, I have summarised the pros and cons for each qualification below.

CIMA – Pros and Cons


  • Specialises in training accountants to work in business.
  • Highly regarded qualification.
  • Training helps you think as accountant, senior accountant and finance director.


  • You will not be able to work in audit.
  • On a very rare occasion a job may want someone with ICAEW or ACCA.

CIMA stands for Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. This accountancy qualification specialises in training their accountants to work inside a business. From a junior accountant up to a CFO.

The course includes management accounting, management and financial reporting – with a real emphasis on teaching their accountants to bring real value to the business.

The one draw back of CIMA is that due to it’s specialised training, you cannot be an auditor.

This is usually not an issue as that an accountant rarely moves from business into an accountancy firm. (Working for a company is usually better paid with better hours!)

ACCA – Pros and Cons


  • Broad training equips you to work in both business and audit & tax.
  • Highly regarded qualification.


  • If you wish to work in business from the start, then it’s education isn’t as strong as CIMA.
  • If you start in audit, you would be better getting the ICAEW/ICAS qualification.

ACCA stands for Association of Certified Chartered Accountants. This qualification gives you the ability to work as an auditor or inside a business.

While not as strong as CIMA at training its student in management accounting, it still gives an excellent education and will leave you more than equipped.

One downside is that if you begin your career in audit at an accountancy firm, you would be better getting the ICAEW/ICAS qualification. They are considered the gold standard in accountancy qualifications as they were the original qualification and all the major accountancy firms train their staff with them.

Summary – CIMA vs ACCA

In the end you will not go wrong choosing either qualification. Both will open plenty of career opportunities for you. I would not spend too much time worrying over CIMA vs ACCA.

If you want to begin your career inside a business, then CIMA will provide more relevant training. And if you want to start in audit, then you’d be better going with ICAEW or ICAS.

In the end , once you’ve got either qualification, the most important way of climbing the career ladder and getting those giant pay cheques, is to get the best experience possible on your CV.