What's the Difference?

CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) and CMA (Certified Management Accountant) are both prestigious professional certifications in the field of management accounting. While CIMA is a global qualification recognized in over 179 countries, CMA is primarily recognized in the United States. CIMA focuses on strategic management accounting and business skills, while CMA emphasizes financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support. Both certifications require passing rigorous exams and meeting strict experience requirements, making them highly respected credentials in the accounting profession. Ultimately, the choice between CIMA and CMA depends on one's career goals and geographic location.


OrganizationChartered Institute of Management AccountantsInstitute of Management Accountants
FocusManagement accountingManagement accounting and financial management
Global RecognitionRecognized globallyRecognized in the US and some other countries
Exam StructureConsists of 3 levelsConsists of 2 parts
MembershipRequires passing exams and relevant work experienceRequires passing exams and relevant work experience

Further Detail


Both the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) are prestigious professional certifications in the field of management accounting. While they both focus on accounting and financial management, there are some key differences between the two certifications that potential candidates should consider before deciding which one to pursue.

Education and Eligibility

CIMA requires candidates to have a relevant degree or equivalent qualification, along with three years of relevant work experience. On the other hand, the CMA certification requires candidates to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and two years of relevant work experience. Both certifications also require candidates to pass a series of exams to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in management accounting.

Focus and Scope

CIMA focuses on management accounting and strategic management, preparing candidates to work in a variety of industries and sectors. The CMA certification, on the other hand, focuses more on financial management and decision-making, with an emphasis on analysis and planning. While both certifications cover similar topics, such as budgeting, forecasting, and risk management, the CMA certification may be more suitable for candidates looking to specialize in financial management.

Global Recognition

CIMA is a globally recognized certification, with members and students in over 179 countries. The certification is highly regarded by employers around the world, making it a valuable asset for candidates looking to advance their careers internationally. The CMA certification, on the other hand, is more popular in the United States and Canada, with a growing presence in other countries. While the CMA certification is well-respected in North America, it may not have the same level of recognition in other parts of the world.

Professional Development

Both CIMA and CMA offer opportunities for professional development and networking. CIMA provides access to a wide range of resources, including online forums, webinars, and networking events, to help members stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in management accounting. The CMA certification, on the other hand, offers a variety of continuing education programs and networking opportunities through the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), helping members enhance their skills and expand their professional networks.

Cost and Time Commitment

The cost and time commitment required to obtain the CIMA and CMA certifications can vary depending on the candidate's background and experience. CIMA candidates are required to pay an annual membership fee, along with exam fees for each exam they take. The total cost of obtaining the CIMA certification can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the number of exams taken and study materials purchased. The CMA certification, on the other hand, has a one-time entrance fee and exam fees for each part of the exam. The total cost of obtaining the CMA certification is typically lower than the cost of obtaining the CIMA certification.


In conclusion, both the CIMA and CMA certifications are valuable credentials for professionals in the field of management accounting. While they both offer opportunities for career advancement and professional development, candidates should carefully consider their education, experience, and career goals before deciding which certification to pursue. Whether you choose to pursue the CIMA certification or the CMA certification, both certifications can help you enhance your skills, expand your professional network, and advance your career in management accounting.

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