Certifications

Once you have completed your finance major, it is quite possible you will want to obtain one or more certifications to further advance your career, depending on the line of work you choose. Some of the certifications available to you include:

  • Certified financial planner (CFP). Those with this designation have demonstrated solid knowledge of all aspects of financial planning. Before earning the designation, they must complete studies of over 100 topics, particularly stocks, bonds, taxes, insurance, retirement planning, and estate planning. Passing a certification exam and qualifying work experience are prerequisites to this designation.
  • Chartered financial analyst (CFA). To become a CFA, a candidate must pass three difficult and challenging exams, as well as complete at least three years of qualifying work experience. CFAs must demonstrate extensive knowledge of accounting, economics, portfolio management, and securities analysis. They tend to work in investment analysis rather than financial planning.
  • Certified fund specialist (CFS). Finance professionals with this designation hold their expertise in the mutual fund industry. They typically advise clients on which types of mutual funds to invest in and may buy or sell funds on behalf of clients. The course you are required to take to achieve this designation focuses on mutual fund topics in-depth, including portfolio theory, dollar cost averaging, and comparing annuities. Once this designation is acquired, certified fund specialists must adhere to continuing education (CE) requirements to keep the designation current.
  • Chartered financial consultant (ChFC). Individuals with this designation have an extremely thorough knowledge of financial planning. They must successfully pass a comprehensive exam on various areas of financial planning, including but not limited to income tax, insurance, investments, and estate planning. ChFCs must also have a minimum of three years of working experience in a financial services position.
  • Chartered investment counselor (CIC). This is for which designation CFAs who are registered investment advisors can study. In addition to expertise in portfolio management, these professionals must adhere to a strict code of ethics and provide character references before being considered for this designation. Persons with this certification typically work with large accounts and mutual funds.
  • Certified investment management analyst (CIMA). To obtain this designation, a candidate must have at least three years of professional experience as an investment consultant. This certification implies a high level of consulting expertise and designees are required to maintain that expertise with 40 hours of continuing education courses every two years. These professionals usually work in financial consulting firms and typically manage large amounts of money.
  • Chartered market technician (CMT). Professionals with this designation have expertise in the field of technical analysis. They must pass three exams and abide by a code of ethics. They typically work for hedge funds and money management firms.
  • Certified public accountant (CPA) and personal financial specialist (PFS). Those holding a CPA designation have passed exams on accounting and tax preparation, but this title does not signify expertise in other areas of financial planning. Accountants who wish to supplement their careers with personal financial planning need to obtain the PFS designation, which is awarded to financial planning professionals who are also CPAs.
  • Chartered life underwriter (CLU). These professionals usually work as insurance agents. CLUs must complete a 10-course program of study and 20 hours of exams. The courses cover topics such as life insurance, health insurance, pension planning, insurance law, income taxes, investments, financial and estate planning, and group benefits.

Last Updated: 09/18/2014

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