What is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and How to Become One?


Do you have a passion for finance and determination to lead in the field? Becoming a CFA could be a strategic and beneficial choice for you.

What is a CFA?

A Chartered Financial Analyst, also known as a CFA and awarded by the CFA Institute, is a position given to someone who demonstrates a deep understanding of investment analysis, wealth management, and the delicate balance of financial strategy.

What does a CFA do?

A CFA focuses primarily on investment management, knows the ins and outs of economics, financial reporting, corporate finance, and equity investment strategies. CFAs mostly work in large organizations, where in-depth research and analysis is their focal point and play an essential role in guiding investment companies through the challenges of complex financial markets.

How to become a CFA?

Wondering how to become a CFA? We have all the details for you. In order to become a CFA, you need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, and 4,000 hours of relevant work experience. Once you have your degree you would then need to pass a certification exam which entails 3 six-hour exams which cover a wide scope of topics from the basics of economics, to finance, to ethical practices. We highly encourage that if this is a pursuit you’d like to take on, be sure to study effectively for these exams as the current passing rate of each section of the exam is roughly 40%.

Why Pursue a CFA after an MSF?

A Master of Science in Finance (MSF) is a specialized graduate degree that delves into the intricacies of finance, covering everything from fundamental concepts to advanced topics, such as corporate finance, investment analysis, and financial modeling. Some MSF programs partner with the CFA Institute and its University Affiliation Program, offering comprehensive preparation for Level I of the CFA exam. Students prepare for a wide array of advanced financial roles. Essentially, an MSF program provides the keys to the finance kingdom, unlocking the doors to understanding how money and markets work.

You should know, becoming a CFA is not just adding another feather to your cap; it's about adding depth, knowledge, and an edge to your finance career. It's a journey of transforming from a finance professional to a finance powerhouse. Going for a CFA after your MSF degree is like supercharging your finance career. It deepens your expertise, especially in investment, and gives you a global edge. You'll join a network of top finance professionals and stand out with a strong ethical foundation. This combo (MSF & CFA) not only boosts your resume but also keeps you sharp in the ever-changing finance world.

What about salary?

Based on research performed by McLagan, CFA charter is required or preferred by more than 90% of investment management firms when searching for mid and senior level positions. The coveted role of a CFA typically earns a substantial salary, with a base pay of about $90,000 and make up to $180,000 not including bonuses, profit sharing, and other benefits.

Job roles you can have with a CFA

*According to the CFA Institute

  • Research Analyst ($140,000 yearly)
  • Corporate Financial Analyst ($105,00-129,000 yearly)
  • Consultant ($106,000-131,000 yearly)
  • Risk Analyst/Manager ($105,000-129,000 yearly)
  • Credit Analyst ($100,000-140,000 yearly)
  • Portfolio Manager ($122,000-177,000 yearly)

In 2023, candidates who passed CFA Level 1 on average experienced a 29% increase in salary. But it's not just about the money. A CFA is open to many career opportunities considering the vital role they play in shaping financial strategies for large corporations, managing significant portfolios, and making high-stakes investment decisions.

More Information

FIU’s MSF students receive preparation for Level I of the CFA exam. Find out more information about becoming a CFA at the CFA Institute.