How to Become a CFA: in Simple Steps

Welcome to the thrilling realm of financial analysis, future Chartered Financial Analysts! Prepare for a captivating journey that involves diving deep into numbers, conducting intricate calculations, and taking decisive actions to shape the financial landscape. 

Your analytical prowess will be put to the test as you explore the delicate balance between risk and stability, akin to walking a tightrope in an ever-changing environment. ?

Embrace the challenge of unraveling complex financial strategies, armed with calculators and honed skills. Success in this dynamic field requires a sharp mind and the ability to solve financial puzzles with innovative thinking. Get ready to embark on an extraordinary adventure in financial analysis! ?

A CFA charter holder’s role as an investment analyst entails advising customers and businesses on the best investments to make in order to strengthen their financial situation. The base CFA salary in the U.S. is typically $126,000 USD, with a complete package of roughly $177,000 USD.?

Who is a CFA?

When you encounter the designation “CFA” appended to a person’s title, it signifies that they possess extensive training in the fundamental skills of investment strategy and advanced money management. Achieving the esteemed status of a CFA entails demonstrating proficiency in essential areas such as financial research, portfolio management, investment consulting, risk analysis, and risk management.?

Securing a CFA designation is often a prerequisite for holding esteemed positions like Chief Investment Officer within investment firms or public companies, engaging in credit analysis, corporate accounting, and auditing, or providing financial planning services to high net-worth individuals. 

Awarded by the CFA Institute, this certification is widely regarded as the pinnacle of professional growth in investment management.✨

“A CFA charter holder is an individual who has achieved one of the highest distinctions in the investment management field,” explains Jeremy Keil, a CFA and financial planner at Keil Financial Partners in New Berlin, Wisc. “Their expertise extends to in-depth investment analysis, surpassing the knowledge of an average financial advisor.” ?

How much can a cFA earn?

A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), sometimes referred to as a CFA charter holder, performs a crucial role as an investment analyst, using their knowledge to lead companies and clients toward the best possible investment decisions that improve their financial status. 

CFAs offer vital insights to help create strategies for maximizing returns and reducing risks, thanks to their in-depth understanding of financial markets, risk assessment, and portfolio management. Their influence is felt in a variety of industries, including corporate finance, asset management, and other fields.?

The average basic CFA income in the U.S. is a commendable $126,000 USD, while the complete pay package is close to $177,000 USD. These generous financial incentives reflect the industry’s high demand for CFAs and acknowledge the value they provide to both firms and investors.

How to Become a CFA (Tips)

Congratulations on your pursuit of the esteemed Chartered Financial Analyst designation! ? Embark on an exciting journey delving into investment strategy, money management, and financial research. 

Master the art of risk analysis and portfolio management as you make a lasting impact in the dynamic world of finance. Let’s navigate this thrilling path together! ⤵️

Join the CFA program

To start your journey as a CFA?‍? candidate, you must first enroll in the CFA program before registering for the Level I exam. To be eligible for enrollment, you need to fulfill any of the following criteria:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree
  • Be in the final year of a bachelor’s degree program
  • Have a combination of four years of full-time work experience and higher education

Moreover, candidates must possess an international travel passport, be proficient in taking exams in English, meet the professional conduct admission standards, and reside in a participating country.

Successfully complete the CFA exams

The next phase in your journey towards becoming a CFA is to conquer all three levels of the CFA exams consecutively. ?These exams comprehensively cover various subjects and topics, such as ethical and professional standards, economics, equity investments, fixed income, and portfolio management. Each level emphasizes a specific aspect of investment:

Level I: Focuses on investment tools and evaluates your understanding of ethical and professional standards.

Level II: Emphasizes asset valuation, assessing your capability to apply standards to real-world analytical scenarios.

Level III: Concentrates on portfolio management, evaluating your aptitude in applying standards to portfolio management and compliance.

Gain relevant work experience

To progress towards attaining the esteemed CFA charter, you must accumulate 48 months of “acceptable work experience,” which can be acquired before, during, or after taking the exams. ?The CFA Institute defines acceptable work experience broadly, encompassing various financial and investment roles, such as trading, economic analysis, and corporate finance.

However, at least 50% of this work experience must directly involve participating in the investment decision-making process or contributing to the creation of products influencing this process.

Prepare and submit reference letters

Once you have successfully passed all three exams and acquired the requisite work experience, you’ll need to prepare reference letters for submission to the CFA Institute.? 

These letters should attest to your professional capabilities, character and provide compelling reasons why you should be granted the CFA charter. References from supervisors or current CFA charter holders carry greater weight and impact.

Apply for CFA charterholder status

After fulfilling all the requirements mentioned above, you can apply to become a CFA charter holder. This entails submitting payment and your prerequisites for review. The CFA Institute will take approximately ten business days to review regular membership applications and up to 4 weeks for affiliate membership applications. 

Upon approval, you will receive an email confirming your CFA charter holder status, marking your official recognition in the CFA community.✅

Responsibilities of a cFA

As a Chartered Financial Analyst, your expertise goes beyond conventional banking. Embrace roles in financial advisory, investment management, and digital banking. Besides managing accounts, you’ll excel in strategic planning, risk assessment, and nurturing valuable customer relationships. 

Embrace the versatility of your profession, and let’s explore your daily responsibilities! ⤵️

Create reports and presentations to inform stakeholders of your findings

Making insightful presentations and compiling thorough reports that clearly convey financial analyses and investment plans to diverse stakeholders is one of your main duties as a CFA. 

These reports are essential for assisting with decision-making and giving customers, executives, and investors insightful information.?

Advice on investments and financial decisions

CFAs are tasked with the crucial duty of providing knowledgeable guidance on investment possibilities and financial decisions. To maximize portfolio performance and accomplish long-term financial goals, CFAs offer recommendations that are specific to each client’s goals and risk tolerance by drawing on their extensive understanding of financial markets and investment instruments.?

Analyze and track rival activity

Staying ahead of the competition in the financial sector necessitates close attention to competitor activity. CFAs actively monitor and evaluate market trends, competitor tactics, and sector changes to spot possible risks and business opportunities.? 

CFAs may make wise judgments to ensure that the portfolios of their clients remain robust and adaptable by having a thorough awareness of the competitive landscape.

Create financial policies and processes

CFAs help organizations create effective financial policies and procedures. These regulations assist in laying down standards for financial operations, risk management, and investing practices. 

CFAs promote the highest levels of financial integrity by creating rules that effectively assure compliance, maintain openness, and enforce all applicable laws.?‍?

Ensure adherence to financial rules

A CFA’s primary duty is to ensure adherence to financial regulations. They need to stay on top of constantly changing regulatory frameworks and make sure that the financial operations of their customers comply with all relevant rules and regulations. 

This covers moral issues, accurate disclosure of financial facts, defending customers’ interests, and fostering confidence in the financial sector.✅

Tips to improve your cFA career

As a Chartered Financial Analyst, your career is a thrilling expedition of learning and progress. Embrace the insights shared in this article to enrich your banking skills and create a profound influence in the financial world. Let’s embark on this exciting journey of professional growth and fulfillment together! ⤵️

Emphasize collaborative skills

The era of individual star portfolio managers is behind us. Modern companies prioritize agility, competitiveness, customer focus, and innovation. They seek diverse teams from various disciplines to cope with rapid personnel changes and intensifying competition for talent.? 

Cognitive diversity gains significance as it minimizes the risk of erroneous decisions and groupthink. Investment professionals benefit from this shift, enjoying career flexibility for lateral moves without compromising their track records. The ability to collaborate effectively within a team now holds more value than ever before.

Exhibit flexibility

CFA Institute’s survey revealed that 89% of industry leaders expect financial professionals’ roles to undergo multiple transformations throughout their careers. The investment industry is anticipated to experience more significant changes in the next decade than in the past ten years, prompting a need for adaptable and interdisciplinary thinkers. 

The ability to adapt seamlessly to this dynamic environment has become a highly sought-after skill among workers in the financial sector.?

Embrace a dual role of specialization and versatility

Among investment executives, 49% highly value “T-shaped skills,” which signify a combination of deep expertise in a particular field and a broader understanding of relationship management. 

This entails situational adaptability, interdisciplinary thinking, a strong professional network, and a comprehensive grasp of both company systems and the wider business landscape.✨

Demonstrate creativity and innovation

Employers seek specialists who showcase remarkable creativity and innovation to stand out in the competitive job market. According to managers, qualities such as creativity/innovation (32%), interdisciplinary thinking (29%), and customer-oriented problem-solving (29%) are particularly scarce among candidates. 

While technical and financial expertise remains essential, it is the addition of interpersonal sensitivity and a wealth of ideas that truly sets candidates apart.?

Harness technology’s potential

Future investment professionals will distinguish themselves by adeptly leveraging technology to enhance work quality and investment performance. Rather than a simple replacement of human labor, the investment sector’s future lies in the synergy of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) and H.I. (Human Intelligence). 

While humans will “train” technology, provide expert advice, and develop tailored solutions, machines will excel at strengthening successful approaches, analyzing vast data sets, and handling repetitive tasks.?‍?

Top cFA courses in the United States

For those aiming to thrive in the banking industry, discovering the finest educational routes to bolster your expertise is paramount.

We’ll delve into top-notch banking and finance programs offered by esteemed universities and business schools worldwide. These programs offer comprehensive education, expert guidance, and valuable opportunities to elevate your banking skills and achieve excellence in your career. ⤵️

Financial Analysis – Skills for Success Specialization

In a flourishing business landscape encompassing both small and large enterprises, having a comprehensive grasp of the financial fundamentals is essential for success. 

By enrolling in the 3-course Financial Analysis Specialization, you’ll acquire a balanced understanding of crucial financial principles, empowering you to approach organizational decisions and drive success with an analytical mindset.

Financial Markets

This course provides a comprehensive exploration of the concepts, techniques, and institutions that enable society to handle risks and encourage entrepreneurship. Special focus is placed on developing financially astute leadership abilities. It covers current practices and examines future possibilities. 

By introducing risk management and behavioral finance principles, students gain insights into the practical functioning of the securities, insurance, and banking sectors. The ultimate objective of this course is to utilize these industries effectively for the betterment of society.

Finance & Quantitative Modeling for Analysts Specialization

This comprehensive specialization is designed to prepare individuals interested in exploring the dynamic fields of data and business analysis, as well as those seeking to enhance their technical expertise in Finance and Quantitative Modeling. 

Starting with the basics of quantitative modeling, you will discover how to harness the potential of data through spreadsheet utilization, turning it into a potent and accessible data analysis tool. 

Business Analytics with Excel: Elementary to Advanced

In today’s data-centric landscape, effective leadership demands proficiency in both statistical methods for data analysis and suitable models for data utilization. This Business Analytics course concentrates on the latter aspect, introducing students to analytical frameworks employed in decision-making through Excel modeling. 

The topics covered encompass Linear and Integer Optimization, Decision Analysis, and Risk Modeling. Students will gain a solid understanding of the fundamental principles before applying these methodologies to real-world business challenges using Excel.

Top cFA Schools in the World

If you possess a flair for numbers, analytical prowess and thrive in dynamic settings, a career in banking may beckon you. Yet, excelling in this domain goes beyond mere calculations. 

Dedication, continuous learning, and honing financial expertise are paramount. To begin your journey, explore the top banking schools globally, refining your skills in this ever-evolving field. ⤵️

Schulich School of Business (Canada)

The CFA Institute has given its endorsement to York University’s Schulich School of Business, approving it as a CFA Program Partner.

Located in Toronto, the Schulich School of Business is recognized as one of the top business schools worldwide, according to various global surveys. Their comprehensive Master of Finance program spans 12 months and provides extensive and practical knowledge. 

It is designed to cover approximately 90 percent of the CFA exam preparation material, making it an excellent choice for aspiring finance professionals.

The University of Iowa (Henry B. Tippie College of Business) (USA)

In 2009, the Finance Career Academy at Tippie College of Business made significant efforts to become a CFA Program Partner, and their dedication paid off. They were granted this prestigious title, making them one of the exclusive 15 MBA programs in North America to achieve this recognition.

The finance curriculum at Tippie extensively covers over 70% of the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge, which comprises the material tested across all three levels of the CFA exams. This comprehensive coverage ensures students receive valuable preparation for the CFA exams and sets them on a path toward success in the finance industry.

Howard University School of Business (USA)

Howard University’s B.A. in Business Administration and Master in Finance has earned the distinction of being CFA Program Partners. These degree programs provide comprehensive coverage, encompassing a minimum of 70 percent of the CFA Program Candidate’s Body of Knowledge, along with adherence to the CFA Institute’s ethical and professional standards.

Accredited by AACSB in 1976, Howard’s undergraduate Business School program has consistently met the rigorous standards set by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, solidifying its reputation for academic excellence.

Cass Business School, City University, London (U.K.)

Cass Business School has recently become a CFA Program Partner, joining a prestigious network of leading business schools worldwide. This partnership underscores the school’s finance MSc programs’ significance in the financial services industry and their excellent preparation for the CFA exam.

The five esteemed MSc programs that have earned this recognition are MSc in Finance, MSc Banking and International Finance, MSc Accounting and International Finance, MSc Investment Management, and MSc in Finance and Investment (part-time).

URI’s College of Business Administration

URI is part of a select group of 13 universities in the U.S. that have received recognition as CFA Partners. Some of the other prestigious institutions on this list include Boston University, the University of Kansas, the University of North Carolina, Marquette University, and the University of San Francisco. Internationally, CFA partner schools include Reims Management School in France, London Business School, the Universidad de San Andrés in Argentina, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

Where to find cFA opportunities online?

Are you a budding Chartered Financial Analyst seeking dynamic career prospects? Look no further! In the digital age, the internet empowers financial professionals to discover a myriad of opportunities and network with global experts. 

This guide will steer you through the online realm, unveiling ideal banking prospects that match your aspirations, whether you’re starting out or aiming for growth. ⤵️


Indeed is a popular online job search platform that offers a wide range of opportunities for Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs). Aspiring and seasoned CFAs can explore an extensive database of job listings from various industries, including finance, investment, banking, and consulting. 

Users can refine their search based on location, experience level, company, and job title to find relevant and suitable CFA positions. With its user-friendly interface and robust filtering options, Indeed provides a convenient and efficient platform for CFAs to discover new career opportunities and take the next step in their professional journey.


Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs) might discover possibilities to work in their industry on Upwork, an online platform for freelancing. You may display your knowledge, experience, and abilities in financial analysis and investment management by creating a professional profile as a CFA. 

Projects, including financial analysis, research, portfolio management, and other topics, can be posted by clients looking for financial knowledge.

Key takeaways

Venture into the realm of banking with confidence and determination, knowing that your potential knows no bounds. Embrace hard work, seize every opportunity, and ace interviews to carve your path to triumph in the financial domain. 

Who knows, you might be the next celebrated Chartered Financial Analyst lighting up the banking world! ?

Similar Posts:

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment