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Application Resources

Take advantage of our membership application resources to help you apply and become a CFA Institute member. Explore the prorated fee schedule, requirements for work experience and professional references, and answers to common questions.

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Prorated Fee Schedule for New Members

CFA Institute offers membership at a cost of USD275 for the full membership period—which runs from 1 July through 30 June. The annual fee for first-time members can vary depending on the month they decide join. Use the chart below to understand what your membership will cost.

New Member Join Month Prorated Fee
July Full Dues
August Pay only months remaining (11 months)
September Pay only months remaining (10 months)
October Pay only months remaining (9 months)
November Pay only months remaining (8 months)
December Pay only months remaining (7 months)
January Pay only months remaining (6 months)
February Pay only months remaining (5 months)
March Pay only months remaining (4 months)
April Pay only months remaining (3 months)
May Full dues for next year (May/June waived)
June Full dues for next year (May/June waived)

Work Experience Requirements

To ensure our members are contributing to the investment management profession, we evaluate the work experience of all CFA Institute member applicants. When you apply for regular membership, you will be asked to describe prior job responsibilities to demonstrate qualified work experience. Your experience should involve evaluating or applying financial, economic, and/or statistical data as part of the investment decision-making process; supervising those who conduct; or teaching such activities.

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    Length of Time

    You must have at least 4 years (48 months) of experience as an investment professional or in a related field.

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    Relevant Experience

    Fifty percent of your time must be directly related to the investment decision-making process or producing a work product that informs or adds value to that process.

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    Full-Time Work

    Experience must be full time and can be earned before, during, or after participation in the CFA® Program.

Take the Work Experience Self-Assessment

Do you research or develop resources that assist portfolio managers and traders with investment decisions and risk management? Are you engaged in financial advising or planning for organizations or individuals other than yourself or your family? Answer questions like these when you take our Work Experience Self-Assessment to better understand if your prior job responsibilities meet the requirements for regular membership. After you complete the assessment, you'll gain more confidence on your next steps to apply.

Work Experience Self-Assessment >

How to Write a Work Description

For each work description, explain your job duties and how they relate to investment decision-making. Review our work experience description examples below to understand how to write a qualifying work description. Applicants should demonstrate their impact to the investment decision-making process and indicate how job duties produce work products that add value.

Work Description Qualifying Description Why It's Good
Example 1 I prepare financial models based on reviewed information, analyze fundamentals, and value acquisition targets to provide recommendations to the investment committee.

1. The applicant describes the types of independent analysis involved in this position.

2. The applicant creates financial models and investment recommendations as work products that influence investment decisions.

Work Description Nonqualifying Description What It's Missing Improved Description
Example 2 My work focuses on successfully managing key relationships with end-clients relating to a new Know Your Client (KYC) initiative. This applicant needs to submit additional job details. It is not clear that the position involves independent analysis, and it does not describe a work product that impacts investment decisions. I develop and maintain strong working relationships with clients and communicate investment performance and strategy. I provide advice on a wide and diverse range of investment solutions customized to best meet the financial needs of those clients after thoroughly assessing financial fundamentals, reviewing business risk profile, and doing stress testing on cash flows.
Example 3 I conducted an annual actuarial valuation process and benefit calculations. Although the applicant describes the types of independent analysis involed in this position, this description needs to better demonstrate how the analysis created a work product that added value to the investment decision-making process. I conducted an annual actuarial valuation process and benefit calculations which included performing projections, cash flow analysis, and durational analysis of individual health insurance policies. These analyses had a direct bearing on the investments chosen to back the reserves for these blocks of business.

Professional References

When you apply for membership, you will be asked to provide professional references in support of your application.

How Many References Should You Provide?

  • 2 professional references, if one is an active regular member of the local society to which you are applying, OR
  • 3 professional references, if none of them is an active regular member of the local society to which you are applying.

Who Should Be a Reference?

While we prefer references from your supervisor(s), you may select other individuals who can describe and attest to your responsibilities in the investment decision-making process (as defined in our work experience guidelines).

References will be asked to comment on your work experience and professional character. You will send instructions to your references as part of your application; more information is provided during the application process.

You cannot serve as a reference for your own application.

What to Expect After You Apply

The steps below guide you through the application review process and answer frequently asked questions related to estimated timelines, application statuses, and prorated membership fees.

After you submit your application, the review process may take up to 10 business days for regular membership applications. 

After our review is complete, we send the application to the local society for review. Affiliate membership applications are sent directly to the society for review. Society review times vary but may take up to 30 calendar days for regular member applications. You will receive an email once your application review is complete.

Help us keep in touch by ensuring that your contact information is up to date in your profile. We will contact you by email or phone with any questions about your application.

Use these definitions to understand the activity status of your application:

  • Saved: Your application has been saved but not submitted for review.
  • Work Experience Review: CFA Institute is currently evaluating your work experience. This can take up to 10 business days.
  • Under Review—Society: Your application is being evaluated by the society. Society review can take up to 30 calendar days.
  • Approved: Your application for membership was approved. Membership may need to be activated by paying dues and/or filing the Professional Conduct Statement.
  • Not Approved: CFA Institute completed the review of your application, but membership requirements have not been met.
  • Withdrawn: Your application was withdrawn from review.
  • Expired: Your application remained in society review for more than 180 days; you should reapply.

The contents of your application can be edited while in Saved status. You can manage your saved application from your online account. 

If you need to edit the contents of your application and it is already in either the Work Experience Review or Under Review—Society status, you will first need to withdraw the application. When you withdraw, the references you submitted with that application will remain with your record and do not need to be resubmitted when you reapply.

Once you submit your application, you cannot make further changes.

We will notify you by email with details on how to join CFA Institute. After you receive the approval email, log in to your CFA Institute account and

  • Pay your membership dues
    Each year, you must pay your annual dues to renew your membership. Your first dues payment will vary depending on when you first join.
  • Read and file a Professional Conduct Statement and Membership Agreement
    Annually, you must complete a Professional Conduct Statement to disclose any potential violations of the Code and Standards. You must also sign your Membership Agreement.

The Standards of Practice exam is an open-book exam based on the CFA Institute Standards of Practice handbook.  

It is a requirement for regular membership for those who have not

  • passed Level I of the CFA Program, 
  • passed Level II of the CIPM Program, 
  • earned an RBA designation, or
  • earned an RMFI designation.

If you do not meet any of the above criteria, you will be prompted to take the exam after your membership application has been approved. 

There is no time limit to complete 25 questions, and you must achieve at least 80% to pass. You may retake the exam if you do not achieve a passing score. 

Manage Your Application

Log in to your account to edit your CFA Institute and society applications and to check on your application status.

Access Account
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