CFA / Requirements

How to Become a CFA Charterholder

First, you have to become a candidate for the CFA exam. To do so, you have to enter the CFA Program. You enter the program, when you become a candidate and register for your first CFA level 1 exam.

Can I Take the Exam?
CFA Requirements for Entering the Program

To be able to enroll in the list of CFA candidates and sit for your first CFA exam, you must:

be prepared to take the exam in English,

pay your enrollment and registration fees,

have a valid international passport,

fulfil the professional conduct admission criteria,

meet CFA Program entrance criteria:

Note that residents of Syria, Cuba, North Korea and the Crimea region of the Ukraine, as well as Specially Designated Nationals are prohibited from participating in the CFA Program in accordance with the OFAC Compliance Policy.

You must have:

a bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree or be a final-year student.

4 years of professional work experience (investment related or not).

a combination of professional work experience and education totaling 4 years.

If you want to become a CFA Charterholder, you must take and pass all the 3 levels of the CFA exam: CFA level 1, CFA level 2 and CFA level 3. However, the successful exam is not enough to gain the designation. CFA requirements for charterholders are more extensive.

Can I use the designation?
CFA Requirements for Becoming a CFA Charterholder

To earn the CFA designation, you must:

  • pass all 3 levels of the CFA exam,
  • have 4 years of professional work experience,
  • become a CFA Institute (and CFA Society) member and pay annual dues,
  • commit yourself to follow the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct,
  • have 3 professional references (or 2 if they are CFA charterholders).

CFA Work Experience Requirements

To become a CFA charterholder, you must have 4 years of professional work experience,
4 years of professional work experience = 48 months of qualified work experience.

Does my work experience qualify?

Your work experience qualifies for CFA purposes if:

CFA Institute Membership

To join CFA Institute as a regular member, you must:

  • apply to be a CFA Institute member,
  • be accepted by CFA Institute,
  • activate your CFA Institute membership,
  • pay annual dues,
  • submit your Professional Conduct Statement.

You can apply to become a regular member of CFA Institute already when you pass your CFA level 1 exam. It is recommended that you also join your local CFA Society when you become a CFA Institute regular member.

CFA Society membership is open to CFA charterholders, but also to candidates and other individuals as long as they meet eligibility requirements.


3 passed levels of the CFA exam do not make you a CFA charterholder yet.

Even if you meet all the CFA Requirements for Entering the Program and pass all 3 levels but you fail to satisfy all the CFA Requirements for Becoming a CFA Charterholder, you will not be able to use the CFA designation.

Still, every passed level is a milepost on your career path. Thus, every level is worth the effort!

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