To become a CFA charterholder, you need 4,000 hours of qualified work experience gathered in a minimum of 36 months and gained before, during, or after you participate in the CFA Program. Work experience requirements are also among the CFA Program entrance criteria as a viable alternative to a degree.
CFA Exam Work Experience Requirements
CFA exam and work experience requirements make an inseparable tandem. The deeper you dig into the issue, the more certain you are.
It all starts already with CFA Program entrance criteria that involve both work experience and education requirements. However, work experience is not obligatory if you qualify under the education criterion.
Then, all those who pass the 3 levels of their CFA exam have to meet the CFA charterholder requirements before they can fully use their CFA designation. Of course, CFA charterholder requirements also include work experience criteria.
How strict are the work experience requirements for CFA charterholders?
The work experience requirements for CFA charterholders are very strict because only relevant work experience counts. Relevant means qualified and investment-related only. We explain below
Get 4000 Hours of Work Experienceto Get CFA Charter
for CFA CANDIDATES
Instead of having your degree*, to become a CFA Program candidate you may have:
a combination of professional work experience (investment-related or not) and/or higher education totaling 4,000 hours and acquired over a minimum of 3 sequential years
* a bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree or a student who's no more than 23 months from graduation
for CFA CHARTERHOLDERS
After you pass all 3 levels of the CFA exam, to become a charterholder you must have:
at least 4,000 hours of relevant investment-related qualified work experience, completed in a minimum of 36 months (full-time/part-time/remote work/only investment-related!).
MORE ABOUT CFA Program requirements
CFA Program requirements
Qualified Work ExperienceIs Necessary to Become a CFA Charterholder
To become a CFA charterholder, you must have 4,000 hours of qualified professional work experience, gathered in a minimum of 36 months.
Note: To become a CFA charterholder you must become a regular member of CFA Institute. Thus, work experience requirements for charterholders and work experience requirements for regular membership are equivalents.
Does My Work Experience Qualify?
Your work experience qualifies for CFA charter purposes if:
- it is related to the investment decision-making process,
- accrued before, during, or after participation in the CFA Program (full-time and part-time jobs or remote work arrangements),
- adequately described in your CFA Institute membership application.
You can fill in a self-assessed questionnaire that will tell you whether you’re likely to qualify with your work experience for membership. The questionnaire is available on the CFA Institute website.
Is my work experience investment-related?
Duties in a job position must be related to e.g.:
- working with financial / economic / statistical data for securities or other similar assets (data analysis and application affecting the investment decision-making process).
- supervising those who make such data analysis and application
- teaching how to analyze and apply such data
qualify for meeting work experience requirements.
Note: No personal investment management qualifies, including family or friends, if managed outside of your compensated services.
How to describe my work experience?
- at least 36 months of work experience (4,000 hours total),
- only qualifying job positions (leave out unrelated jobs),
- how your duties in each job involved the investment decision-making process.
In your description, focus on:
- independent analysis AND
- work product
that influence the investment decision-making process.
Note: Best include both independent analysis and work product in your description. If either is missing, the description may be incomplete.
TIPS FOR RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE DESCRIPTION
The phrasing of the description should be specific. Too broad phrasing prevents detailed description.
To adequately describe your independent analysis and work product, consider mentioning the type of client you worked for and what exactly you did for the client.
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