Earning the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification is one way that investment professionals can demonstrate their financial analysis and portfolio management expertise. The CFA Charterholder Program is a long process with numerous steps. Candidates must pass three separate six-hour exams and achieve 48 months of investment-related work experience. Since this process is very dynamic, with candidates spending long amounts of time between levels, it is important to understand how to show this experience on your resume.

Key Takeaways

  • The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification is a big asset for an investment professional and should be highlighted on a resume.
  • The CFA Charterholder Program involves passing three six-hour exams and putting in four years of investment-related work.
  • List your CFA status under Skills and Certifications, or Professional Development, in a section that follows Experience and then Education.
  • If you're just beginning, list your qualification level and the scheduled exam date, such as CFA Level I Candidate – June 2018 Exam Date.
  • For later levels, list what you've earned, what you're studying for and the planned exam date, such as Earned CFA Level I; CFA Level II Candidate (Exam Date: June 2019).

Experience and Education

An effective resume concisely outlines your professional experience and education. As a rule, you should put your work experience toward the top of the resume. A strong investment industry resume would highlight quantitative career achievements and specific leadership roles. Education typically follows work experience, with job seekers emphasizing any honors or expertise gained during their undergraduate and graduate university training.

Skills, Certifications or Professional Development

After listing your work experience and university experience, it is appropriate to outline any professional development activities that you have completed. This section can be titled Skills and Certifications or Professional Development, whichever you prefer. If you have specialized technical or programming skills in addition to your CFA Level I, then you should use the Skills and Certifications section title and list your technical skills along with any professional certifications. Otherwise, the Professional Development or Certifications section would be a suitable title for your CFA Level I (you should also add that you are a CFA Level II Candidate, and when you plan to take the exam).

The letters "CFA" cannot be added after your name until you have passed all three exams and earned CFA Charterholder status.

CFA Level I Candidate

If you are currently studying to take the CFA Level I Exam, then you are considered to be a candidate for the CFA Level I. There are several ways that you can indicate this on your resume. One way is to call yourself a CFA Level I candidate. Another is to state that you are preparing for the CFA Level I exam in the Skills/Certifications/Professional Development section of your resume. If you have passed Level II, add that you are a Level II Candidate, and so on.

Exam Date

You may give potential employers additional information about your CFA Level I status by indicating the date on which you intend to take the CFA Level I examination. For example, you may state: "CFA Level I Candidate – June 2018 Exam Date." Alternately, you can state: "Preparing for CFA Level I Exam – June 2019 Exam Date."

48 months

How long an investment professional must have worked in their field in order to qualify for a CFA; a candidate must also pass three six-hour exams.

CFA Level II and III

The CFA program is a multi-tiered undertaking, and passing Level I is just the first step in this process. As you move along, it is appropriate to continue to update your resume so that potential employers understand where you are in this process. For example, once you have earned your CFA Level I and are preparing for the Level II Exam, you should state, "Earned CFA Level I; CFA Level II Candidate (Exam Date: June 2019)." You may not use the CFA letters after your name until you have passed all three exams and have earned official CFA Charterholder status.

The Big Picture

It is important to think of your resume as a living document, continuously updating it with your most recent professional experience. Your CFA Level I completion is only a piece of this story, with your work accomplishments being another important segment. Updating your resume with both your professional development activities and work achievements is the best way to highlight your unique skills to potential employers.