How to Become a CFA Charterholder
Pass CFA ExamsCFA Program is a three-part exam. Passing the exam for all three levels, along with the applicable practical skills modules, is a requirement to obtain the CFA charter.
Achieve Qualified Work ExperienceComplete work experience requirements before, during, or after participation in CFA Program. Your experience must be directly involved with the investment decision-making process or producing a work product that informs or adds value to that process.
Submit Reference LettersIn support of your membership application, you will need to provide 2-3 professional references. References will be asked to comment on your work experience and professional character.
Apply to Become a CharterholderApply to become a regular member of CFA Institute. Once your application is approved and you have joined CFA Institute, you will have earned the CFA charter.
Enrollment Criteria and Requirements for CFA Program
To become a CFA candidate, you must enroll in CFA Program and register for the Level I exam. In order to enroll you must meet all of the qualifications listed below.
Complete a bachelor's program or equivalent program and have received a degree from the college/university. If you are not sure if your program is comparable, consult your college or university.
Your selected exam window must be 23 months or fewer before your graduation month for your bachelor’s degree or equivalent program. Understand that you must be within 11 months of graduation to sit for your Level II exam and you must have completed your bachelor’s degree or accrued 4,000 hours of professional work experience to sit for your Level III exam.
Professional Work Experience
Have a combination of 4,000 hours of work experience and/or higher education that was acquired over a minimum of three sequential years and achieved by the date of registering for the Level I exam. The dates of education and professional work experience cannot be overlapping. If you have a combination of work experience and higher education to achieve the minimum hours and years, assume that higher education takes 1,000 hours per year.
Professional work experience does not need to be investment related. Internships/articleships are accepted if they are paid. Work experience with your own business or your family business will qualify only if it is professional experience for which you are paid.
What does professional work experience mean? Professional work experience requires specialized knowledge, education, or advanced skills. Professional work experience requires the application of higher-level judgement and business skills, including:
- Leadership and teamwork
- Business communications
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Time management
- Professional judgement
- Analytical skills
Candidates applying to register for CFA Program without completing a bachelor’s degree must honestly evaluate whether their professional work experience has equipped them for the significant volume and depth of study demanded by CFA Program.
Please note that CFA Institute may request proof of education (copy of diploma, marksheet, any other relevant documents) and/or work experience (letter of employment, salary slips, any other relevant documents) to be submitted at any stage of your journey as a candidate or even after becoming a member in order to demonstrate entrance requirements were met. Failure to provide requested documentation relevant to entrance requirements may result in cancellation of a current exam registration, withholding of exam results, voiding of past exam results, and may lead to investigation and disciplinary action by the CFA Institute Professional Conduct Program.
CFA Institute requires that every CFA Program candidate have a valid international travel passport. Those without a passport will not be able to sit for the exam.
CFA Program exams are only offered in English. Exams require English proficiency for reading comprehension and formulating answers to complex financial scenarios.
Become a Member of CFA Institute
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Enroll and register for the CFA exam.
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Download CFA Program Factsheet
What to stay ahead of the curve? Download the CFA Program Factsheet to learn more about what to expect from CFA Program.