Will the CFA Designation Help You Get a Job in Finance?

I often see questions about whether becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst by getting the CFA designation is worth it: In terms of a career boost for professionals already in finance, and also for those interested in getting a job in the industry. You may be studying in university for a degree and wonder if you should do the CFA on the side. Or perhaps you are looking for a career change altogether and hope to get a foot in the door.

Intelligence, experience, commitment


When employers hire, they look for the following three most important assets in job candidates:

CFA Job Requirements


In order to provide value for any employer, the candidate must possess intelligence, experience, and commitment. Some of these qualities can be demonstrated by attaining the CFA designation, but not all of them. Let’s assume you have passed all three levels of the CFA exam and may now use the designation and the three coveted letters after your name. An employer or recruiter will read this in the following way:

  • Attaining the CFA is not easy, so this job candidate is smart. Probably smarter than equally qualified candidates without a CFA.
  • The Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) of the CFA exam is highly relevant and up to date with portolio management and financial analysis, so this job applicant is up to speed with the latest research in the field.
  • This candidate has spent a lot of time and money to develop additional skills in finance. This shows commitment. This candidate will probably not easily give up on a challenge, and may stay with a firm longer than average.


Here comes the rub: The CFA can’t make up for experience.


A firm always prefers to hire employees with relevant experience in a chosen field. If you can also demonstrate lateral experience, for example managing teams or projects in another industry, engineering or technical skills, or other important management or technical qualities that can be used in the finance industry, this definitely gives you points also.

So if you’re already experienced in finance, having an CFA will definitely raise your value in your career. If you don’t have relevant experience yet, it shows that you’re an intelligent and committed person, but you should get additional experience in finance before you venture into the field.

Rockefeller had a good saying about the ideal career track: “Pick a company you want to work for and take any job they give you; this gets you in the door.” If you’re looking for relevant finance experience, I would suggest you do just as Rockefeller suggested, maybe pick a company in your region where your talents are needed and then move up the corporate ladder bit by bit. The starting point can be an internship, or a position not directly related to what you’re actually planning to do later, but at least it gets you in the door and you can demonstrate your skills to your employer.

I hope this helps you assess whether you want to invest in the CFA designation. I personally think it’s a great professional designation that will definitely help you sooner or later if you’re working in finance. CFA Institute is a professional body for financial analysts and finance professionals recognized worldwide, with an excellent offering of continued education and access to other events, so I think it’s well worth it. I wrote another article about the benefits of the CFA network, you can check it out here: Tapping Into the CFA Network for Fun and Profit.

I hope to see you soon when you prepare for the CFA!