Thinking of earning a CPA? Think again.

Read this: Getting into the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program is no easy. It is actually a gruesome process. But before even starting the process, ponder on your preconceived thoughts and make sure you dream is really a dream, not a passing fantasy. Let this article guide you through the decision making.

Earning the Charter

The CFA Institute requires three steps before an individual becomes a CFA charter holder: Pass all three levels of the CFA examination in succession, complete 48 hours of professional work experience, and be a member of the CFA Institute.

Among the above-mentioned steps, fulfilling the educational requirements is the most difficult one. This program is comprised of three exams that covers a candidate body of knowledge (CBOK), which the institute consider a necessity for the investment profession.

Levels and Time. Level I is taken in the late fall and late spring; levels II and III are taken once a year in the late spring. Before moving on to the next, candidates must pass every level. According to the institute, an average candidate should devote at least 250 hours preparing for each level, generally around six months.

Requirements. Before receiving the charter, the candidate must complete 48 hours, or four years, of work experience acceptable to the institute. Acceptable experience encompasses areas of corporate finance, economics, and trading.

Institute. Experience and education are useless if candidates will not join the CFA Institute. Their website ( outlines the process of joining the institute.

Pros of being a CFA

Is it worth it to pursue the charter? Before deciding on this matter, know how you will benefit from the program. Gaining knowledge is a great deal, no doubt. Education from this charter will add a great credential to your CV. Also, people in the industry know the amount of time, effort, and commitment needed to earn the CFA. Upon seeing you have earned the charter, people will possibly believe you possess the necessary traits and skills to do the job.

Your salary may increase, too, after earning the CFA or outdo other applicants when vying for a new job or promotion. Take note: the sentence says it may, so the charter may not ensure your career growth. Therefore, do not consider CFA as a ticket to professional success.

The charter may not be your door to success, but this will lead you to numerous financial fields such as investment management. Since the investment industry becomes more competitive as time passes by – and somewhat commoditized – it is almost a must to have the CFA. Aside from that, an individual holding a CFA can work in other types of jobs beyond the industry, including buy-side trader, sell-side analyst, economist, business school professor, and financial advisor/planner.

Cons of being a CFA

Holding this charter does not guarantee path to riches and glory. The following are the pitfalls for having a CFA.

Time. Taking the program is time consuming. A candidate needs to allocate at least 250 hours per year for three years. That means you need to sacrifice time being spent with loved ones and the hobbies. Did I mention there is no assurance you will pass?

Cost. Although not a key consideration, a candidate will still spend some money for taking the program. Level I candidates have to pay a one-time enrollment fee and the examination registration fee. Level II and III candidates also need to pay a registration fee. Not to mention the books and the cost of study programs. Adding all of these expenses, you will spend up to several thousand dollars for every examination.

Career. Earning the CFA won’t mend one’s ailing career. There might be other reasons why your career is not surging. You may want to improve your other abilities such as work ethic and communication skills before even deciding to enroll yourself in this program.

Now we have laid out the advantages and disadvantages of earning the CFA charter. Before making your decision, reflect on these points for at least a day or two. Whatever your decision is, it will make or break your career in the finance industry.

So, are you still thinking of earning a CPA?