The CFA® Institute has rigid requirements that must be met by every candidate before membership is awarded. The process of how to become a CFA by joining the CFA Institute® is so difficult that it is estimate that only 1 in every 5 prospective members will actually make it all the way to the prestigious title of Chartered Financial Analyst, but those who do will reap the benefits of being in such a respected international organization.
In order to achieve the distinction of being chartered, these requirements must be fulfilled:
All three levels of the CFA Program:
- Level I: Focuses on a basic knowledge of the ten topic areas and simple analysis using investment tools
- Level II: Emphasizes application of investment tools and concepts with a focus on valuation of all types of assets
- Level III: Focuses on synthesizing all of the concepts and analytical methods in a variety of applications for effective portfolio management and wealth planning
- The CFA Program is organized into three levels and each level involves a six-hour exam. To complete the program you have to pass the exam for each level. There is no limit to the number of times you can take each exam.
- Successfully complete the three exams sequentially and accumulate 48 months of approved work experience
The CFA® Institute states that on average, the process of becoming chartered through the program takes four years.
Over the course of becoming chartered, it is a requirement for candidates to become members of their local CFA society for the purposes of training, networking and collaborating. There are currently societies in 135 countries throughout the world.
According to the CFA® Institute, these are the steps to becoming a Member of a local CFA society:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or have equivalent education or work experience
- Pass Level I of the CFA exam or pass the self-administered Standards of Practice Examination
- Have 48 months of acceptable professional work experience in investment decision making
- Provide professional reference statements
- Apply for membership in a CFA society. Society membership is voluntary and highly recommended.
- Agree to adhere to and sign the Member’s Agreement and the Professional Conduct Statement
- Pay annual dues
- Adhere to the OFAC Compliance Policy. Residents of certain countries may be prohibited by law from becoming a CFA® Institute or Society Member.