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CMI or ILM: Which Qualification is Better?

If you are or have ever considered enhancing your leadership and management skills, then it’s likely that you’ve already read about both the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).

While each organisation is equally well respected, if you’re like most working professionals, you’ll want to know the difference between the two so that you can decide which is better for your overall career development.

To help you out, below we compare each organisation and the qualifications they offer to help make your choice an easier one.

Management Work Board

About CMI and ILM

CMI and ILM are similar organisations, but they vary in a few ways that might make a difference to you when it comes down to the institution you ultimately decide to study with.

The CMI is a Chartered Institute, meaning it’s been granted a Royal Charter, reflecting the prestigious status of the CMI organisation as a whole. The CMI also happens to be the UK’s only chartered professional body for management and leadership, making its reputation all the more prominent.

The ILM, on the other hand, is an independent charity that forms as part of the City & Guilds Group. Their industry-leading qualifications focus on improving leadership standards in companies of all sizes, and they’re considered one of the UK’s leading institutions for global leadership, coaching, and management skills development.

With two powerhouse institutions like these, it’s no wonder you might have trouble deciding between them, but not to worry - we’re just getting started!

CMI vs. ILM: The Breakdown

Units & Qualifications

Both the CMI and the ILM offer qualifications starting at Level 2 through to Level 7, with the option of a comprehensive Diploma, mid-length Certificate, or bite-sized Award at each level.

The framework for CMI qualifications and ILM qualifications are fundamentally the same, with only some dissimilarities in terms of module content and qualification structure.

For example, ILM units are smaller units and worth fewer credits, meaning you’ll need more units to achieve a full qualification, but you’ll have the opportunity to study a broader range of topics.

CMI qualifications, however, tend to have fewer units but are longer and more comprehensive - allowing you to cover topics to a more in-depth degree.

Training and Support

When you’re looking to take on any professional qualification, you want to know that you’ll be adequately supported before you officially enrol.

Fortunately, the CMI and the ILM have outstanding training and support. The CMI works with over 600 training centres and ILM works with 2,500 quality assured-training providers worldwide.

These institutions also offer an abundance of resources (including digital brochures, training videos, and workbooks) through their course providers and have quality assurance processes in place to ensure high levels of training year-round.

To add, both organisations offer the option to study their qualifications in the classroom as well as through online virtual learning providers (like us!), meaning the qualification you choose can be made flexible enough to shape study around your life.

Membership Options

One of the perks to studying a CMI or ILM qualification is that you have the opportunity to become a member of the subsequent institution you choose to learn from, with both organisations offering free membership to learners throughout their course. 

Currently, the CMI has approximately 130,000 members worldwide, offering up to seven membership grades - including Chartered Manager status. Alternatively, ILM has roughly 25,000 members and offers four membership grades.

Membership of each body provides a significant number of benefits, including access to learning resources, industry insights, and research, as well as mentoring and networking opportunities. The more advanced your qualification, the more you’ll have access to.

Management Meeting

So, which qualification is better?

The truth is, no one can pinpoint which qualification is better for your leadership and management career. It really all comes down to what career goals you’re trying to accomplish and which qualification will help you achieve those goals.

However, for a bit of extra guidance, we’ve outlined some additional facts and figures of CMI and ILM qualifications to help you with your final decision.

CMI Qualifications: The Facts

CMI qualifications are highly strategic and are ideal if you want to study within a progressive framework that equips you with the skills and knowledge to progress your professional career. 

They’re also the right qualification for you if you want to be awarded Chartered Manager status one day. 


  • 30,000 people enrol on CMI qualifications annually
  • You don’t need any formal qualifications to enrol on a CMI course
  • 85% of managers agreed that their CMI qualification improved their performance and subsequently their teams’ performance as well.
  • The CMI is the only professional body to award Chartered Manager status - the highest accolade in the management profession. 
  • The CMI also offers a Level 8 qualification for C-suite professionals, a level yet to be offered with ILM or via the other UK awarding bodies.

ILM Qualifications: The Facts

ILM qualifications are highly practical, with a focus on training you to immediately apply your leadership and management skills in the workplace, making them ideal no matter where you are in your career. 

Not to mention:

  • 70,000 people enrol on ILM courses each year.
  • You don’t need any formal qualifications to enrol on ILM courses (though you should be a practicing manager with the relevant experience for the level you enrol on).
  • More people in the UK take leadership & management qualifications from ILM than any other provider.
  • 93% of managers perform better in their roles after gaining an ILM qualification.
  • ILM training providers can tailor programmes and qualifications to suit your needs.
  • ILM offers fast-tracking routes, allowing you to study the level above or below your chosen qualification to develop faster.

For your convenience, we’ve gone ahead and included our handy infographic below should you like a quick and comprehensive point of reference moving forward. 

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