What Is a Chartered Market Technician (CMT)?

A chartered market technician (CMT®) is a professional technical analyst that holds the CMT designation organized by the CMT Association (formerly the MTA), a global credentialing body with nearly 50 years of service to the financial industry. The CMT marks the highest level of training within the discipline and is the preeminent designation for practitioners worldwide.

Technical analysis provides the tools to successfully navigate the gap between intrinsic value and market price across all asset classes through a disciplined, systematic approach to market behavior and the law of supply and demand. Earning the CMT designation demonstrates that you have mastery of a core body of knowledge of investment risk in portfolio management, including quantitative approaches to market research and rules-based trading system design and testing.

Key Takeaways

  • The chartered market technician (CMT®) designation is a professional credential.
  • It is earned by those who can demonstrate extensive knowledge and aptitude in technical analysis and trading.
  • To earn the designation, candidates must complete an intensive self-study program and pass a series of three comprehensive exams.
  • These exams are considered the "gold standard" in the industry.
  • Administered by the CMT Association, this program aims not only to develop technical and professional skills but also to provide a code of ethics and an ethical framework to work within. 

Understanding a Chartered Market Technician (CMT)

To be granted a Chartered Market Technician (CMT®) 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 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 first exam. All three levels of the CMT program exams are given on a computer at testing facilities.

Among industry practitioners, the CMT designation is widely considered the gold standard in technical analysis globally.

The CMT Exams

The purpose of the CMT Program is to promote the development of a candidate's professional knowledge with respect to the study and application of technical analysis. The CMT Program is self-study. The curriculum is available through Wiley: Efficient Learning.

CMT Level I

The CMT Level I exam measures basic, entry-level competence and understanding of technical analysis. The Level I candidate needs to have a working knowledge of the basic tools of a technical analyst. Once the first level is successfully completed there is no time limit to pass the subsequent levels. The CMT website states that the Level 1 exam measures basic, entry-level competence and understanding; the candidate needs to have a working knowledge of the basic tools of the technical analyst:

Registration costs for the CMT Level I are as follows: for early registration, the cost is $295 for members and $470 for non-members; for standard registration, the cost is $395 for members and $570 for non-members, and for late registration, the cost is $595 for members and $770 for non-members.

CMT Level I Topics Areas
Content Areas Percent
Theory and History 9%
Markets 5%
Market Indicators 7%
Chart Construction 5%
Trend Analysis 16%
Chart and Pattern Analysis 23%
Confirmation 3%
Cycles 5%
Selection and Decisionmaking 13%
System Testing 5%
Statistical Analysis 6%
Ethics 3%
Total 100%
CMT Level I Topics Areas

CMT Level II

The CMT Level II exam requires the candidate to demonstrate a greater depth of analysis and use of technical tools. The Level II candidate is expected to demonstrate proficiency in applying more advanced analytical techniques and technical analysis theory. The MTA website states that the Level 2 exam requires the candidate to demonstrate a greater depth of analysis and use of technical tools. Candidates are expected to demonstrate proficiency in more advanced analytical techniques and technical analysis theory.

The CMT program is self-study, so be sure to follow the required readings for each level. You cannot choose to write both the research paper and the exam. You must select one. If you decide to write a research paper, you must demonstrate your ability to integrate what you have learned in levels 1 and 2 with actual data analysis. If the peer review panel of the MTA Accreditation Committee reviewing your paper passes you, your paper could be published in the MTA's Journal of Technical Analysis.

CMT Level II Topic Areas
Content Area Percent
Theory and History 3%
Market Indicators 5%
Construction 1%
Trend Analysis 20%
Chart and Pattern Analysis 23%
Confirmation 15%
Cycles 3%
Selection and Decision 17%
System Testing Money Management 10%
Ethics 3%
Total 100%
CMT Level II Topic Areas

CMT Level III

The CMT Level III exam tests the candidate on developing logical and consistent research opinions, portfolio strategies, and trading decisions based on a wide range of charts and technical data. The Level III candidate is asked to analyze case studies, make recommendations, and justify those recommendations based on the data provided.

All candidates must pass the ethics portion of this exam. Upon successfully completing Level III, candidates can start the membership process to obtain the Chartered Market Technician® Designation. The MTA website states that the Level 3 exam requires the candidate to analyze case studies and make and justify recommendations based on data provided. The primary focus of the exam is the practical and ethical application and integration of technical analysis.

CMT Level III Topic Areas
Content Areas Percent
Ethics  5%
Risk Management 21%
Asset Relationships 18%
Portfolio Management 18%
Behavioral Finance 10%
Volatility Analysis 7%
Classic Methods 21%
Total 100%
CMT Level III Topic Areas

Additional CMT Association Membership Requirements

In addition to the above-listed requirements (passing three examination levels), completing the membership application process, and agreeing to the CMT Association’s code of ethics, candidates must secure at least three CMT Charterholder references who can speak to the candidate's knowledge, skill, and ability in the field of technical analysis.

During the reference phase, also known as the "sponsorship" phase, CMT candidates will offer their original research to different CMT Charterholders within the Technical Analysis community for sponsorship into the CMT Association. CMT Charterholders will review the CMT candidate's original technical analysis research and decide through a sponsorship application to support an individual's candidacy.

The CMT Association discontinued its membership requirement for CMT exam candidates. You may still choose to become an affiliate member before enrolling in the CMT Program, but it is no longer required. However, member pricing for the exams differs from non-member pricing.

In addition, CMT candidates must complete at least three years of professional work experience practicing technical analysis in their position.

How Do I Become a Chartered Market Technician (CMT)?

To become a chartered market technician (CMT), you need to take and pass all three levels of the CMT exam, become a CMT member, and then work in a related field—typically one with a technical aspect in investment management—for at least three years.

How Much Do Chartered Market Technicians (CMTs) Make?

The median annual pay for a financial analyst is $83,660, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A CMT is a specialized type of financial analyst with a median salary that is higher; approximately above $200,000, depending on the region and job.

How Do I Prepare for the CMT Level I Exam?

For the CMT Level I exam, the CMT Association recommends 100 hours of study time. For Level II and Level III, 140 hours and 160 hours are recommended, respectively. Third-party test providers approved by the CMT Association are available to help prepare for the exam but the official CMT curriculum is recommended first.