5 things you need to know about a CIMA qualification

Securing a qualification through the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) can undoubtedly give your finance career a real boost. Becoming CIMA qualified shows you have the skills and knowledge needed to work in various business and finance roles, not just accountancy jobs. Being a member of the world’s largest professional body of management accountants - with 227,000 members and students in 179 countries - gives you extra credibility and status as a professional.

If you have a CIMA qualification, or deciding whether to choose a CIMA vs ACCA qualification, here are five key points to remember:

1. Employers rate CIMA qualifications

CIMA is highly respected among employers, who recognise the high calibre of management accountants who emerge from the body's training programme. As a student, you develop analysis, strategy, risk management, planning and communication skills, ensuring you have a broad range of attributes. CIMA’s robust assessment methods mean the real-life skills and competencies employers need are woven into the syllabus. This is why CIMA members are often on their wishlist when recruiting financially-trained business leaders.

2. CIMA qualifications should be on your CV

If you hold a CIMA qualification, this should be clearly documented on your CV. Always include full details, including your dates of study, in the professional qualifications section on your record. Gaining your CIMA shows that you are serious about career development and have the skills and knowledge associated with a top management accountant. If you are currently studying towards your CIMA, you should still document this on your CV. This shows prospective employers that you are actively trying to develop your career.

In the skills section on your CV, you may wish to include some of the attributes you have gained or improved by studying for your CIMA qualification. You need to explain how they enable you to add value to organisations, providing examples where possible. This should be with a view to differentiating yourself from other job candidates, including those who have a CIMA qualification or have studies with another professional accountancy body.

3. CIMA career options

As a CIMA accountant, there are multiple career options, you can work in a variety of finance and business roles. As well as strong accounting fundamentals, the professional qualification teaches strategic business and management skills. By passing your assessments, you have proven the ability to grasp both theory and practice, which can be applied in a range of business settings. Your training in business management means you are capable of advising on strategy and risk management.

Many CIMA qualified accountants pursue commercial and strategy-based roles, such as commercial analysts and financial analysts. In such positions, you will operate across teams and departments, providing a link between finance and operations. An alternative is to look for financial management positions, such as financial manager or financial controller. These roles potentially put you on the path to becoming a finance director in future.

4. You can reach the top in business

Professionals with a CIMA qualification have the commercial skills and knowledge to work in senior board-level positions, making the big decisions which drive organisations forward. Many professionals rise through the ranks into senior roles, either remaining on the finance track or taking on more general briefs. The most talented and ambitious can become the chief executive or managing director. The FTSE CEO tracker has shown that having a finance background is a clear advantage for professionals looking to reach the CEO's chair.

5. CIMA can help you earn more

With a CIMA qualification you stand a greater chance of securing the top jobs. You've also got more bargaining power when it comes to negotiating pay. Research conducted by CIMA revealed that qualified members earned more than twice the national average in 2014, at £61,816 in basic salary plus potential £6,144 in bonus payments. CIMA students earned an average of £32,294 plus potential £1,433 in add-ons, while average rates of pay increased by 20 per cent once they became fully-qualified CIMA members (calculate yours here). To assess potential salaries for finance and accounting jobs, regardless whether you have a CIMA qualification yet, consult the Robert Half Salary Guide. This resource allows you to compare your earnings to other professionals working in the industry.

ACCA qualified and looking for career advice? Check out these 5 essential points to boost your career.