Thinking of CIMA Certification: How to Become a Certified Investment Management Analyst

Earning the CIMA designation is a process and takes time and money, both in completing and maintaining certification. Generally speaking, to earn the CIMA designation takes 9 to 12 months to complete and requires candidates to meet a range of experience, education, examination, and ethics requirements.

First, Application and Background Check

Candidates for the CIMA designation must first complete and submit the CIMA Certification Program Application and application fee (here’s an overview of current fees). Know that the application will ask for detailed contact information, work experience, and any record of complaints and regulatory actions. This is important because the IMCA must complete a background check on you and your claimed work before you are admitted into the CIMA program. Applications are valid for two years.

The Qualifying Exam

After submitting your application and completing your primary background check, you will next need to sit for and pass a two-hour computer-based exam, offered at more than 170 Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) testing centers throughout the U.S. The Qualification Exam consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and 10 non-scored pretest questions.

You have one attempt at the Qualification Examination as part of the initial application fee. Candidates who do not pass the exam are subject to a retake fee and a 30-day waiting period between exam attempts.

TIP: Plan to study up to 100 hours to pass this in-depth examination. Wiley’s CIMA Exam Review course covers both the Qualification and Certification exams and includes all the learning objectives and definitions for the key terms contained in the CIMA® Examination Candidate Handbook. As you progress, content is carefully constructed around the Handbook and organized to reflect the current Qualification and Certification Detailed Content Guide.

Educational Class & Exam

To earn the CIMA® designation, you must successfully complete an executive education program at one of IMCA’s three registered programs: The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Yale School of Management. You enroll a course without first passing the qualifying exam.

The education courses are generally two to four days in length and have their own “final” examination at the end. While the costs of these course offerings vary greatly, expect the courses – in addition to travel and lodging – to be a large expense, costing at least $4,500.

TIP: Yale offers an online option for the least cost. However, most people pursing the CIMA designation opt for an in-person course.

The Certification Exam

After completing your course, you are then ready for the CIMA designation’s certification exam, which is administered during the months of February, May, August and November—again at an AMP testing center. The certification exam is four hours long and includes 100 multiple-choice questions and 10 non-scored pretest questions.

TIP: Plan to study up to 20 hours to pass this examination. Using your previous CIMA review course is a great way to brush up on the topics learned in your education course.

Documentation and a Second Background Check

Lastly, after completing your exams and education course, you’ll have to document your professional experience – a minimum of three year’s verifiable financial advisory work is required – and complete a second background check before you can hold the CIMA designation. You must also sign and promise to abide by the IMCA’s Code of Professional Responsibility.

CFA Charterholder? Good News!If you already hold a CFA charter, you are not required to take the qualifying exam or the educational course. That means CFA charterholders, upon successful application to the CIMA program, can immediately take the certification exam.If you’re a CFA and pursing the CIMA designation, it’s highly recommended you devote up to 100 hours of study time to the certifying exam (just as you would if you were qualifying for the program). This will ensure you don’t waste your exam fees and are fully prepared for this challenging exam.

To Remain Current with CIMA Certification

To maintain the CIMA designation, you are required to complete three certification renewal requirements during each certification renewal period. More information about those requirements can be found in the CIMA Renewal section of IMCA’s website.

Ready to learn more? Find out what the CIMA program entails.