What is CIMA Certification?

Finance professionals who want to prove their competence for providing strategic investment advice to individuals and organizations often investigate the requirements to earn the Certified Investment Management Analyst designation that is otherwise known as the CIMA Certification.

The CIMA credential is administered by the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA). Finance professionals who hold the CIMA credential participate in a certification program that consists of in depth investment management education, business ethics instruction and comprehensive testing of applied knowledge and skills.

Besides participating in ethics and specialized investment training, CIMA candidates must meet certain degree requirements and have at least three years of work experience in financial services.

Featured Programs

Here are some of the investment topics of which CIMA candidates must demonstrate mastery, the cost of participating in the certification program and the requirements for maintaining the certification.

CIMA Education Program Topics

CIMA candidates must enroll in investment education programs that incorporate a variety of fundamental and advanced investment topics. Certification candidates can expect to take course materials that focus on statistical methods, applied finance and an overview of global capital markets. These finance professionals also review the various types of investment instruments like options, futures and fixed income vehicles. Some course topics cover portfolio performance, financial risk identification and risk management techniques. Students learn how to attract clients, assign appropriate portfolio managers and perform periodic portfolio reviews.

CIMA Program Costs

The CIMA program typically takes up to a year to complete, and CIMA candidates can currently expect to pay between up to $8,000 for the entire program. There are administrative fees that are associated with processing candidates’ applications, qualifying exams and certification exams. Current IMCA members can apply for the CIMA program by paying $600, and CIMA applicants who do not want to join IMCA must pay $1095. If a CIMA candidate decides to join IMCA when they apply for the CIMA program, their administrative fees are discounted by $100, and they pay a total of $995 for those fees and IMCA membership.

Upon completion of the eligibility requirements and the certification educational programs, CIMA certificate holders gain a license. The license fee for IMCA members is $175, and the fee for CIMA certificate holders who are not IMCA members is $895. Attending investment educational programs at one of three top tier university finance programs accounts for the bulk of the cost to attend the CIMA program. CIMA candidates can choose to attend programs at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management or University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. The certification program fee at the Wharton School is currently $6850.

CIMA Maintenance

Based on an independent salary report done by the Aite Group in 2013, CIMA certificate holders earn average salaries of $265,000. The high compensation and job satisfaction benefits are just some of the reasons why CIMAs seek to maintain their valuable credentials. CIMAs renew their credentials by performing 40 hours of continuing education, paying renewal fees and giving written indication of continued compliance with IMCA’s professional standards.


The CIMA credential is the only one of its kind to be accredited by the American National Standards Institute. One of the reasons that the CIMA designation meets certain international standards is because of the rigor of its internal certification requirements. A CIMA applicant must successfully pass both qualifying and certification exams, enroll in a graduate level educational program at a top university and undergo two background checks before they can hold the CIMA certification.

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