Updated 4 August 2020
CIMA (The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) is one of the largest professional bodies for management accountants in the world.
Acceptance into a professional body such as CIMA allows you to improve your job prospects and promotion possibilities. Many organisations in accountancy and business expect their employees to be members of a professional qualification board or working towards one.
The CIMA Professional Qualification is recognised worldwide as one of the most relevant global finance qualifications for businesses. It is the qualification required to achieve CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant) designation.
The CIMA qualification is the industry standard in management accounting. Many prestigious employers such as Barclays, Deloitte, Nestle and Unilever expect their employees to train with CIMA.
Completing your CIMA qualification alongside your undergraduate degree will give you a head start in the job market. Impress potential employers by including ‘CIMA student’ or ‘Working towards a CIMA qualification’ on your CV.
In business, especially accountancy and finance, the standards and methods used to advise clients and resolve financial issues should be consistent. Acceptance to a professional body signals to your client that you will perform the expected tasks and manage their finances in a manner that represents the professional body.
Additionally, a CIMA qualification and membership gives you the designation of the globally recognised Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Those with a CGMA designation are paid more, as their standard of work is internationally certified.
CIMA qualifications have a stronger focus on management accounting. It is a preferred option for someone keen to work in the finance or management areas of larger organisations.
There are multiple entry points for starting your CIMA Professional Qualification based on your previous education.
The course is structured in three levels:
Generally, you are expected to complete all three levels to progress to CGMA designation. However, you might be able to enter the course at various different levels based on your previous education or experience.
Generally speaking, to begin the course at Operational Level, the only entry requirement is that you are competent in English and maths.
CIMA recognises many other professional bodies. If you are a member of a different professional body, it is a good idea to check if you have eligibility to fast-track your qualification.
CIMA also has a reciprocal arrangement with the Associated of Corporate Treasurers (ACT), which allows members on either professional board to gain fast-tracked membership with the other.
CIMA has made its application process quite simple:
This certificate is a qualification on its own and is the entry point to the CIMA Professional Qualification for those without exemptions.
It is for someone wanting to go straight into the CIMA qualification from school, change careers, or wanting to further their career without a background in business, finance or accounting.
The CIMA Certificate BA has four different components:
These four components can be studied in any order. The recommended completion time is 12 months; however other commitments such as work or additional education might impact this.
The program offers flexible study options, so you can learn at your convenience.
Each module will have a 120-minute exam, which you can take at a Pearson VUE assessment centre.
BA1, BA2 and BA3 each have 60 test questions, while BA4 has 85 test questions.
The exams are computer marked, so you will receive a provisional result of ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ immediately. A final result comes within 48 hours on your MY CIMA portal.
The Professional Qualification improves your employability and demonstrates to any future employer that you have the knowledge, skills and competencies of a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).
The CIMA course has nine subjects, which are organised into pillars and levels to represent the different areas of knowledge you need as a CGMA.
The Three Learning Pillars Are:
Each learning pillar has three sequential levels of achievement. Students can progress from one level to the next.
The three levels of achievement are:
For more information on the structure of the CIMA Professional Qualification, take a look at the CIMA syllabus.
When you are studying for your CIMA qualification, you will complete a level at a time. First, you complete all three pillar areas from Operational Level, complete the assessments and then move on to Management Level and, finally, Strategic Level.
At the successful completion of the Operational and Management Level, you will receive intermediate awards.
In the Operational Level, your courses are:
On successful completion, you will receive a Diploma in Management Accounting (CIMA Dip MA).
In the Management Level your courses are:
On successful completion, you will receive an Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting (CIMA Adv Dip MA).
In the Strategic Level your courses are:
For the CIMA qualification, you will be expected to take nine objective tests relating to the nine pillar subjects, and three case study tests relating to each level and testing knowledge across each pillar.
Some candidates may not need to take all these exams, depending on the exemption they have been awarded.
Each of the syllabus modules is assessed by a 90-minute computer-based Objective Test taken at a Pearson Vue Assessment centre.
The objective test will cover all the learning objectives for each level of the qualification. This includes knowledge learned and how to apply it, plus analytical skills.
CIMA exams are computer marked. You will receive a provisional result of ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ immediately and a final result within 48 hours on your MY CIMA portal.
If you do not pass the tests, feedback will be provided and you will be able to re-sit the test.
You can take the tests in any order, but the candidate must pass three objective tests at each level before taking the case study exam.
After you complete all the exams in a level, you will sit a computer-based Case Study Exam.
The exam is three hours long and there are four exam times each year (Feb, May, Aug, Nov).
The case study will be based on both pre-seen material released before the exam window and unseen material. It provides a real business scenario that assesses a range of skills.
The exam results and feedback are received about five weeks after completion.
Once you pass all 12 exams of the CIMA Professional Qualification, you need to complete your career profile and membership application.
To do this, you need a minimum of three years of verified Practical Experience Requirements (PER).
Your PER is a vital part of the membership qualification that complements the assessments and shows your ability to apply the knowledge and skills in a professional setting.
It will count towards your Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation as well.
Your application is emailed, posted or taken in for a face-to-face membership assessment session.
This is seen as the easiest route to membership, as there aren't as many checks in place and it is based upon the Existing Practical Experience Requirements.
Your application needs the following and CIMA have provided a few templates:
This route involves a thorough screening process and is based on the Updated Practical Experience Requirements.
You need a minimum of 36 months of experience, with at least four competencies between technical and business skills.
You will use the online Membership Application Tool (MAT) to record and submit your experiences.
The MAT will guide the process:
CGMA is an internationally recognised body that immediately increases your standing in the job market and the potential for a higher salary.
Once you have been admitted as an Associate Member of CIMA, you will receive the CGMA or the Chartered Global Management Accountant status.
Adding the CGMA designation to your name and CV is coveted by many professionals in business, accounting, finance and management.
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