Considering the CFA Exam? These 7 Steps Will Help You Decide

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By Christine

A lot of people you know take the CFA charter, but is it right for you?

More than 160,000 CFA Program candidates take the CFA exams each year. That’s a whole lot of people trying to get one particular qualification.

So after the recent results and start of the new CFA cycle, it’s no wonder that you’re wondering if you should wise up and start your CFA journey too. Or maybe you’re already on your way, but you’ve got a friend that’s undecided

If you or a friend is on the fence on whether to take the plunge on the CFA exams, these quick 7 steps will push you to one side or the other!

#1: Know Everything You Need to Get the Full CFA charter
What do you really need to obtain the CFA charter? Besides the fact that there are 3 exams, are you familiar with the exact requirements, costs, and effort involved?

If you need more information, this has been extensively covered by us in our article, “Everything You Need to Obtain the CFA Charter“. In this article we cover the total costs involved, the minimum period and average period needed to pass the entire exams, work experience needed, references, exam formats… the whole nine yards.

You can view the full article and full infographic here.

#2: Read our comparisons with with other qualifications
If you’re considering taking up the CFA charter, you’re probably considering this along with several other qualifications. It’s extremely important to know exactly which qualification to take as each professional qualification demands a lot of your time, effort and money, and gives you specialized benefits. Don’t sign up for one without knowing exactly what the benefits are.

Fortunately, we’ve covered many other common qualifications that would-be CFA candidates consider. Here are the best articles to help you decide:

#3: Understand Why You’d Be Interested in the CFA Exams
You know you kinda might want to, maybe, like, take the CFA exams, but are you clear on why?

There are several main reasons why anyone might want to take the CFA exams, and we’ve covered this in an extensive article on 300 Hours. This is also summed up in the graphic above – it’s affordable (compared to other qualifications), knowledge, career enhancement, better pay.

More details on the benefits of the CFA can be read here.

#4: Check out Sample Exams from the CFA Institute
The easiest way to gauge what you’re up against is to have a look at sample exams from the CFA Institute. The CFA Institute publishes updated sample papers each year for every level. In Level 3, they even contain actual past years’ questions. 

To help you decide on the CFA exams, have a look through the questions and guideline answers, and see if the content is compatible with your goals. You’d also want to check out the level of difficulty and see if that’s suitable with you as well.

You can view and download sample papers from the CFA Institute here:

#5: Check Out Your Potential Jobs and Employers
By far the most common reason that CFA candidates take up the CFA exams is to enhance their career. This may be in the form of career development in their current role, or finding a great new role in finance. While we’ve stressed that the CFA charter is not a golden ticket to your dream career, there’s no denying that CFA charterholders are some of the most elite and highly-paid professionals in the world. 

We’ve covered top employers of CFA candidates and charterholders in a separate article. If you’re considering the CFA charter, you should be considering a serious career in at least one of the listed occupations.

#6: Read Our Career Insider Interviews

The best way to know if the CFA charter is right for you is to hear it from current candidates. In the past few months we’ve had the privilege to interview some really awesome members of our forum, and they’ve given us the full details on their careers, how they found the CFA exams and what effect it’s had on their careers.

“I delayed getting mine until I had to because I didn’t see it as applicable to my work. That was a mistake. Don’t procrastinate and just get it done!”  Read More >>>

“Speaking candidly I would tell anyone strictly looking to be a Financial Advisor that the CFA is not essential for success although it will undoubtedly improve your skills.” Read More >>>
– MattyC

“The CFA program been the main contributor to [my] financial knowledge. My progress in the CFA program also helped me transition to my newest role, as it was a signifier of not just financial knowledge but also drive and work ethic.” Read More >>>
– DollarsToDonuts

“…I had a look at the syllabus myself and decided that it had a relevant range of topics for the kind of work I wanted to do eventually — that is investment analysis and research…” Read More >>>
– CityScotGirl

You can read the full interviews here:

#7: Ask Any Question You May Have at the 300 Hours Forum
We’ve covered many of the common queries that potential CFA-takers have, but we know there’s always a unique circumstance to each individual. That’s why we’ve created the 300 Hours Forum, where you can reach out to current candidates in every level and charterholders. Post a question there and we’ll respond in a jiffy!

Hope these 7 steps provided you with enough ammo to make your decision. If you still have a question, you can drop it in our Forum or just post in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan


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