When it comes to developing technical analysis and charting skills, the Chartered Market Technician® (CMT) Designation is where it's at. For financial professionals who are considering this option, obtaining this certification shows potential employers that you have a comprehensive knowledge of technical analysis and could put you ahead of the pack in pursuit of that coveted Wall Street job. If you think a CMT certification might help you chart your career course and get it trending in the desired direction, read on to find out what the program entails and what you'll need to do to succeed.

What's a CMT?

The CMT® Program is administered by the CMT Association. It aims to develop a technical analysis as well as professional analytical skills. An additional benefit of the program is that it provides a code of ethics and gives analysts an ethical framework to work within. (To read more about finding the perfect job for you, see Is A Career In Financial Planning In Your Future? and Six Steps To Successfully Switching Financial Careers.)

Designed as a self-study program, the CMT Association provides a reading list and various study aids. Using textbooks, sample exams, most students are able to grasp the material and progress through the exams. This program includes interactive webinars, web-based question-and-answer sessions and online bulletin boards.

While there are countless technical analysis training programs available, only the CMT is designed to provide broad exposure to the classic literature in the field while emphasizing state-of-the-art analytical techniques. Almost every aspect of technical analysis is addressed in the curriculum - chart pattern identification and measurements, common and obscure indicatorsElliott wave theoryGann anglespoint-and-figure chartingcandlestick charts and other tools. (For more insight, see Exploring Oscillators and Indicators.)

Why Should You Consider This Program?

If you're looking to work in a traditional finance job, the CMT demonstrates accomplishment to potential employers. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) accepts successful completion of the first two levels of the examination program as an alternative to the Analysis Series 86 examination for technical analysts. While analysts are still required to take the Regulatory Series 87 examination, which tests for understanding of the strict rules that ensure analyst independence, the Series 86 exemption is likely to be highly valued by potential employers. (To learn more about FINRA, read Who's Looking Out For Investors?)

But the CMT isn't just for those who want to work as analysts. Potential traders, gain exposure to a wide variety of technical tools, allowing them to learn what fits their trading style and temperament. Even registered representatives can benefit from the CMT program, because their clients are likely to want technical opinions on stocks and the overall market. (If you're looking to work from home, see Top 4 At-Home Financial Jobs.)

What the Program Requires

To be granted the designation, a candidate must pass three examination levels, complete the membership application process, and agree to the CMT Association’s code of ethics. To register for the CMT® Program, individuals must the first join the CMT Association as an affiliate member and then enroll in the CMT Program. After enrolling in the Program, candidates can then pay and register for their exam. Successful preparation for each exam requires candidates to carefully study and follow the CMT curriculum published by Wiley.

How Long Does It Take?

The CMT Program includes three exams. The first two are in the multiple-choice format and the final exam is a grueling four-hour essay exam. Each exam is offered twice a year, meaning applicants can complete the program in as little as 18 months. However, most take three years to get through the process. The CMT Association recommends allowing at least 100 hours of study time for each level, and many applicants spend considerably more time on the readings and preparation.

Benefits and Job Prospects

While the first CMT certifications were granted in 1989, the program has dramatically increased in popularity. In 2017, there are more than 2,900 professionals who have earned this designation, and about 6,000 applicants   hope to join that number.

A few of the best-known market technicians have attained this charter: Ralph Acampora, John Bollinger and John Murphy completed this program. (Read more about Bollinger in Using Bollinger Band® "Bands" To Gauge Trends and Profiting From The Squeeze.)

According to the CMT Association, the CMT Association consists of more than 9,000 market professionals. About two-thirds of the membership reports an annual income of at least $100,000. More than 40% of traders work for investment firms, 10% for hedge funds, and 15% are buy/sell-side analysts.

Conclusion

The CMT is the only technical analysis training designed by professionals, for professionals. The program provides the tools investors need to become a technical analyst. Some of the best minds in the industry have completed this certification, demonstrating its value and increasing its recognition. For those serious about technical analysis, this is a program worth considering because it will not only enhance your knowledge - it should also help you make money.

For more information about technical analysis education see: cmtassociation.org. CMT® and Chartered Market Technician® are registered trademarks owned by CMT Association.

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