What is CIMA?

Posted by: Andre Post Date: 19th August 2014

Recognised around the world, a qualification from CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) can set you up for an exciting and prosperous career in management accountancy. So what is CIMA, and where exactly can it take you?

A comprehensive qualification

CIMA can take you all the way from the beginning of your financial education, to a qualification equivalent to a Master’s Degree.

The full qualification involves a range of levels and knowledge areas, and usually takes around four years to complete. The course is flexible, however, so you can take as long as you need. So, let’s take a look at the structure of the CIMA qualification.

What is CIMA?


You can start studying towards the CIMA Certificate with no previous qualifications. Through five Fundamental units, you’ll gain a basic understanding of both financial and management accounting, as well as being armed with new technical skills. At the end of the course, you’ll gain the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting.


The CIMA Professional Qualification is made up of four levels, and two awards. The first of these awards is the Diploma in Management Accounting, and is achieved through completion of the Operational level. Units focus on three main areas, Enterprise, Performance, and Finance, giving you a deeper understanding of how to perform tasks central to management accounting.

Advanced diploma:

To achieve the Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting, you will need to complete the Management level units. Building on the foundations of your understanding of management accounting, this level will prepare you to manage and supervise financial processes.


Once you’ve completed the first two Professional levels, you can move onto the CIMA Strategic level. Now you’ve gained a practical knowledge of management accountancy, you’ll learn to plan ahead and make strategic financial decisions.

To complete the full CIMA qualification, you’ll take the Test of Professional Competence in Management Accounting. Through practical experience in a professional setting, and a case study based exam, you’ll prove your readiness for a career in management accounting.

The key to your career

We’ve answered the question “what is CIMA?” in terms of the actual course content. But the other half of the question concerns where it can take you. Because CIMA is so thorough, and focuses heavily on ethical standards, it is well recognised by employers.

A qualification in management accounting often takes you into more exciting roles than plain financial accounting. You could work in any industry, helping to form and implement financial strategies that will drive the business forward. Far from the stereotype of the lonely accountant, you will work closely with others to achieve broader goals.

You could look forward to senior roles such as Finance Manager, Commercial Accountant, and Operations Manager in the future. CIMA members even rise to top positions like Chief Financial Officer or Chair.

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