CMI vs ILM: Which Course is Better?

Wed 31 Jan 2024

Board Meeting presentation

Are you looking to start or progress in your management career?

Choosing the right professional development course to enhance your leadership and management skills is an important decision, but the right course can help take your career to new heights. 

With around 230,000 members between both the CMI and ILM, many individuals have experienced career growth by achieving their qualifications.

But which course is better?

We’re here to discuss which course you should do, and why. 

What is CMI and ILM?

If you work in the management sector, you may have heard the terms CMI and ILM before, but what do they mean exactly?

CMI stands for the Chartered Management Institute and is a professional institution based in the UK which works to provide management and leadership qualifications. It also provides support for individuals to enhance their management and leadership skills.

ILM stands for the Institute of Leadership & Management, which is another UK-based organisation that specialises in leadership and management development. ILM offers a range of qualifications and resources to help individuals and businesses improve their leadership capabilities.

CMI vs ILM: Similarities and differences



CMI provides a comprehensive range of management training qualifications, spanning from Level 2 to Level 7. You can study diplomas, certificates, and awards with CMI, as it caters to individuals at various stages of their management careers. 

CMI's qualifications distinguish themselves by offering a focused exploration of each topic, and while the units are fewer in number, they are more extensive. This approach gives you the opportunity to delve into the subject matter with greater depth, so you can gain a thorough understanding of management principles.


Like CMI, ILM's qualifications range from Level 2 to Level 7 ranging from diplomas, certificates, and awards to cater to diverse levels of expertise. However, the difference between the two is ILM offers smaller units, each carrying fewer credits. 

This approach requires individuals to complete more units to attain a full qualification. ILM supports its learners through various resources, including online communities where connections with fellow learners can be established.  

Qualifications breakdown: Pros and cons 

CMI pros:
  • Range of management training qualifications from Level 2 to Level 7
  • Offers diplomas, certificates, and awards for individuals at various management career stages
  • Courses provide a focused exploration of each topic with fewer but more extensive units
  • Allows learners to delve deeply into subjects.
CMI cons:
  • Potentially fewer units may limit the breadth of topics covered in comparison to other programmes.
ILM pros:
  • Offers management training qualifications from Level 2 to Level 7, including diplomas, certificates, and awards
  • Allows flexibility in unit selection, with smaller units requiring completion of more to achieve a full qualification.
ILM cons:
  • Completion of more units may be time-consuming. 

Support & Membership


CMI boasts around 130,000 managers and offers up to seven membership grades, with the prestigious Chartered Manager status being a notable achievement. When you become a member, you can benefit from a range of perks, such as access to learning resources, industry insights, and research.,nd the best thing is, that membership is completely free if you complete a CMI course.

CMI places a strong emphasis on supporting its learners by offering a wealth of resources such as guides and online materials to help them through the professional development learning process. 

As a CMI member, you’ll have access to online forums that provide a platform for learners to engage with others facing similar challenges and seek advice from experienced professionals, this will also help you expand your network! CMI also hosts events where learners can meet industry experts, ensuring you can stand ahead of the latest developments in the industry. 


ILM provides support for learners by offering various resources and online communities so you can make connections with peers in your industry. These resources aim to enhance the learning experience and provide additional insights for professional growth. 

They have a network of approximately 25,000 members and provides four membership grades, which are free for those who have completed their course.

Support & membership breakdown: Pros and cons

CMI pros:
  • Boasts a substantial membership of around 130,000 managers with up to seven membership grades
  • Chartered Manager status is a prestigious achievement within the CMI framework
  • Membership perks include free access to learning resources, industry insights, and research
  • Strong emphasis on supporting learners with guides and online materials
  • Access to online forums so you can engage with peers, network and seek advice as you advance your career. 
  • CMI events provide opportunities to meet industry experts and stay updated on industry developments.
CMI cons:
  • High number of members could potentially make standing out as a member more difficult. 
ILM pros:
  • Provides support for learners through various resources and online communities, enhancing the learning experience.
  • Network of approximately 25,000 members and offers four membership grades.
  • Free membership for those who have completed their ILM course.
ILM cons:
  • Due to the small number of members, networking opportunities may be limited compared to larger institutions.

Breakdown of the key differences between CMI vs ILM


  • ILM is only focused on leadership and management.
  • ILM is accredited by the UK's Ofqual and SQA. Both have accreditation but CMI's chartered status provides an elevated standing.
  • ILM offers qualifications from Level 2 to Level 7, equivalent to a master's degree.
  • ILM's membership is more flexible, not tied to specific qualifications or experience levels.
  • ILM's general focus is more universally applicable.
  • ILM has less global recognition and prestige.
  • ILM qualifications are assessed through a combination of assignments, practical work-based projects, and written exams.


  • CMI offers a comprehensive range of management training qualifications, covering marketing, human resources, finance, leadership, and management.
  • CMI is a chartered professional body, holding a Royal Charter, granting it higher recognition and prestige.
  • CMI provides qualifications from Level 2 to Level 8, covering a wide spectrum. 
  • CMI's membership structure is tiered based on professional experience and qualifications.     
  • CMI tailors qualifications for specific industries which can be more valuable in your industry.     
  • CMI is a chartered professional body in the UK, globally recognised as a leader in management and leadership training.    
  • CMI qualifications are assessed through exams and assignments.     

CMI vs ILM pros and cons

Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each.

CMI pros

  • Global recognition 
  • In-depth course content for those who want more knowledge
  • Commitment to ongoing support
  • Extensive networking pool
  • Membership benefits such as learning resources, new research and more
  • Industry-centred focus
  • Can gain chartered status

CMI cons

  • Longer units can be time consuming

ILM pros

  • Smaller, more modular units for those who need quick knowledge
  • Online communities of industry peers
  • Variety in membership grades

ILM cons

  • Possibly more units required to gain a full qualification
  • Lesser global recognition
  • Smaller networking pool
  • Doesn’t have a royal charter

CMI courses available at MOL Learn

Here at MOL, we offer a range of awards, certificates and diplomas ranging from Level 3 to Level 5

How to choose the right leadership and management course

Choosing a specific course level, whether it's an award, certificate, or diploma, and deciding between Level 3 and Level 5 at MOL may depend on several factors related to your career goals and current position in your career. 

If you're aiming for an entry-level position, a Level 3 qualification might be suitable as it provides foundational knowledge relevant to various management roles.

For mid-level or more advanced roles, a Level 5 qualification may be more appropriate as it offers a deeper understanding of management principles.

Which course for managers should I do?

While both CMI and ILM offer valuable qualifications, choosing CMI comes with many advantages, such as their commitment to in-depth exploration in each unit.

The global recognition of CMI qualifications means you can transfer your skills and knowledge to any country and secure employment. Additionally, CMI's emphasis on ongoing support, networking opportunities, and resources further enhances the educational journey, making it an ideal option for individuals looking for a well-rounded and impactful learning experience in management and leadership.

Explore our full range of CMI courses and enrol today to develop your management and leadership career.

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