What is a CGMA Qualification?

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • How to gain a CGMA certification.
  • What a CGMA qualification is equivalent to.
  • Whether CGMA is the hardest accountancy qualification.
  • How to find and apply for the best accountancy jobs.

What is a CGMA qualification?

The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) qualification is a professional certification for individuals pursuing a career in management accounting.

Previously known as the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA) qualification, the CGMA is awarded to CIMA members who complete either the beginner or professional CGMA certificate. If you’re looking to develop your skills and advance your accounting career it is important to find the right qualification for you.

Although Management Accountants can practise general accountancy, they have a very specific skills set, combining accounting, finance and management. Through interpreting financial data and using business knowledge Management Accountants help businesses make decisions that will lead to improvement.

Chartered Global Management Accountants are trained to understand how organisations work, find new ways to make companies more successful and use in-depth analysis – both financial and non-financial – to make important strategic decisions affecting the future of a company.

Understanding the benefits of different qualifications can be confusing and it can be difficult to decide what qualifications you’re eligible for and what is best for your career. 

Throughout this blog, we explore CGMA’s difficulty level, its value compared to other qualifications, and how CGMA can benefit your career.

How to gain a CGMA certification

To gain a CGMA certification, you'll need to follow a structured process that includes education, examinations, and practical experience. CGMA is split into Certificate, a standalone ‘beginner’ qualification, and Professional.

In many cases, individuals start with the CGMA Certificate to build a solid foundation and then progress to the Professional Qualification as they gain experience and confidence in their accounting and finance abilities.

Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on the students current qualifications, career aspirations, and dedication to advanced coursework and exams. There are a total of 12 exams for the Professional Qualification, including 3 case study exams, one at every level (Operational, Management, Strategic). There are also three objective exams across all three levels. 

What is CGMA qualification equivalent to?

Depending on the certification you take, the CGMA can result in a qualification equivalent to a degree. The CGMA Certificate in Business Accounting (Cert BA) is the entry level qualification into accounting and is equivalent to an associate degree in accounting.

The Cert BA consists of four exams and is formally recognised as a substitute for a university degree although it is mostly taken to become CGMA qualified. CGMA is equivalent to a Masters degree in accounting.

<H2>Is CGMA qualified as a Chartered Accountant?<H2>

While both Management Accountants and traditional Chartered Accountants are similar in their expertise in accounting and finance, they are distinct qualifications. The CGMA qualification does not hold the title of a Chartered Accountant in the traditional sense.

Once you are CGMA qualified, you will be able to call yourself a Chartered Management Accountant, but not a Chartered Accountant. The choice between them depends on career goals, and the specific area of accounting and finance that students wish to specialise in.

It is possible to pursue both CGMA and Chartered Accountant qualifications to broaden skills and career opportunities.

Is CGMA harder than ACCA?

CGMA is known to be a challenging but highly respected qualification. Given the past pass rates for both CGMA or ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) it is reasonable to state that both courses are somewhat difficult.

However, pass percentages for recent test sittings, suggests that the ACCA may be more difficult to pass. For ACCA, the pass rate is between 30 and 40 percent, whereas, for CGMA, it is between 35 and 46 percent. This suggests that the CGMA is simpler or that it is easier to pass due to the nature of the exam and the requirements of the qualification.

Is CGMA harder than AAT?

The AAT (The Association for Accounting Technicians) is the UK’s leading professional accountancy body and provides students with the skills and knowledge to begin or progress your finance career.

AAT is equivalent to a Level 4 assessment and CGMA is a Level 7 assessment. This means that CGMA is considered to be harder than AAT as it is examined at a higher level and requires more studying, research and experience to pass.

AAT is known for providing students with the basics, but to go further in an accounting career, CGMA is considered to be the better, more advanced option. Alternatively, students could pursue CGMA after they have finished the AAT qualification.

What is the difference between a Chartered Accountant and a CGMA?

CGMA focuses on management accounting, financial strategy, and business management. Chartered Accountants are known for their focus on financial accounting and auditing in public accounting or financial services. Those who complete CGMA are typically referred to as CGMA members or Chartered Management Accountants.

The title of Chartered Accountant is often associated with qualifications from specific chartered accountancy bodies, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), ACCA, or other similar organisations.

What qualifications do I need for CGMA?

Before you begin, ensure you meet the eligibility requirements. No prior knowledge or qualifications are needed, but good maths and English skills equivalent to GCSE grade C/4 or above.

The default entry requirement for the CGMA programme is to have the Cert BA, which is issued by CGMA. The Cert BA is a qualification in its own right and forms a formal entry route into CGMA’s Professional Qualification.

It is for individuals without a background in finance or accounting, but who want to change careers. To obtain the Cert BA, students must pass four exams, and can then move on to the next level of the CGMA - the Professional Qualification.

After you've acquired your CGMA qualification, it is fundamental to continue studying. The Investments and Wealth Institute requires you to get an additional 40 hours of education every 2 years to renew and maintain your CGMA certificate. This helps you to develop new skills and keeps you updated with new information and developments in the finance industry.

Can you go straight into CGMA?

Anyone can study for the CGMA qualification, whether they are new to finance and business or an experienced professional.

If candidates already have a qualification, or an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in economics, accounting, finance, business or management, you may be eligible to enter the CGMA Professional Qualification directly.

This means you can apply for an exemption from the Cert BA requirement or other entry-level requirements depending on your academic background and professional qualifications. You may have already covered some of the topics in your studies and could gain the CGMA qualification sooner.

Can I do CGMA without a degree?

The CGMA Professional Qualification is designed to accommodate individuals who have a solid foundation in accounting and finance or who meet certain academic and professional criteria.

Typically, you need a recognised degree, equivalent qualification or relevant work experience. However, CGMA accepts various entry routes, such as the Cert BA, for those without a degree. 

The CGMA qualification recognises several professional qualifications from other accounting bodies, such as ACCA and Chartered Accountant qualifications. Holding one of these qualifications may grant you entry into the CGMA Professional Qualification and including a CGMA or ACCA qualification on your CV would showcase your professional expertise and qualifications to potential employers. 

In some cases, extensive work experience in roles related to accounting, finance, or business management may qualify you for direct entry into the CGMA Professional Qualification. 

Accountancy jobs and recruitment services

If you’re new to the accounting industry, why not learn how to get your first accounting job or advice on how to find an accounting job. Discover how to choose an accountancy practice that’s right for you and information about what accounting jobs are in demand?

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Meet Matt Byrne-Fraser

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