Our qualifications help compliance professionals develop relevant knowledge and best practice for operating within the fields of governance, risk and compliance, financial crime prevention and anti money laundering (AML). Awarded in conjunction with the Alliance Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester, you can be assured that you are studying for a worthwhile qualification that is the benchmark of excellence.

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Which ICA qualification is right for me?

Written by Dave Robson on Monday February 11, 2019

“What qualification should I do and at what level?”

This is the question we get asked the most. With ICA Briefing Sessions in full swing at the moment, it seemed like it was worth addressing.

So here goes. Let’s pretend we’re at one of the London sessions and you are wondering which course to do…

So what do we tell you?

Essentially, there are two main pieces of advice we normally focus on when discussing ICA qualifications:

  1. Select a course you are interested in – it will help you study it. This could be a personal or professional interest.
  2. Understand the time commitment required. Especially at Diploma level, where you will need to ramp up the study hours put in around assignment submission dates.

Ultimately point 1 really has to be your call. But we can give you some more info…

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) is probably the most buoyant of all the areas of our current programmes. It certainly seems to be the case in respect of job market opportunities – probably driven by ongoing regulatory scrutiny and media interest (the saga at Danske Bank, for example, rumbles on).

You could also consider the ever-popular ICA Compliance programmes. Regulatory Compliance is possibly broader and more generally applicable, covering areas such as regulatory approaches, culture, ethics and corporate governance. There is also wider financial crime too - the ICA Financial Crime Prevention (FCP) offerings focus on ‘non-AML’ financial crime, so there is a strong emphasis on fraud, along with anti-bribery & corruption, e-crime and so forth.

And what level should I choose?

In terms of content, the ICA Certificate programmes provide a strong foundation understanding of the key concepts and issues involved. The Advanced Certificates and Diplomas will support practical work and also expand knowledge and skill. You need to bear in mind though that as the academic level increases, so does the breadth and depth of the material, and the difficulty level / volume of the assessments.

If you felt able to make the commitment to the Advanced Certificate or Diploma and were doing so from an informed position in terms of the amount of work required, then you could potentially go straight in for one of these higher levels. The Diploma in particular was primarily designed for senior / experienced staff but we do increasingly have delegates who want to get to this level of qualification as a stepping stone into the subject matter spheres.

The level of commitment in terms of study is commensurate with your existing knowledge ie: the less prior knowledge / experience you have, the more study time you will likely need to put in.

We want to be transparent

It is of course incumbent on us at ICA to ensure you understand the amount of work required and are comfortable with that. As long as you are OK with this, you could certainly consider the higher-level courses.

Alternatively, you could start with a Certificate, which would provide a sound stand-alone qualification, as well as an excellent base from which to go on and do the higher levels, should you so wish. In fact, as they are quite cost effective, you could do a couple and use them to see which subject you are most interested in.

There are also the Specialist Certificates. These provide a deeper dive into a more focused subject area. Very useful for CPD or building upon your existing knowledge.


In summary, we would suggest you consider the time & cost implications of each programme - but ultimately it has to be your call as it has to fit in with your schedule, ambitions and so forth. Whichever you choose, we are sure you’ll find it interesting and rewarding. You can study fully online, or if you go with the workshop option, you’ll get to meet the tutors, share best practice and network with other delegates.

Good luck with your studies - we look forward to receiving your application.



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