Are you wondering when the best time to take the CFA exam is? Well, I'm about to tell you.
It truly depends - to study for the CFA exam, you'll need to make some sacrifices. Balancing work, life, and studying is the best approach to take. To find the best time to start your career in the investment industry, determine your current financial priorities and short- and long-term career goals. For example, if you are just starting out, you'll need to take a few considerations into account.
Here are a few things that'll help you decide, depending on where you are in your career:
Let's Say You're An Entry-Level Finance Professional
If you're currently in an entry-level finance position, we recommend taking the CFA Exam as soon as possible. When you are close to graduation and have only one or two years of finance experience it’s likely you will have a more open schedule at night and on weekends to study for the CFA Exam. If you manage your workload effectively, balance your studies, and make time for your personal life, it’ll be easier to balance it now versus later when you have a lot more experience and a greater responsibility.
Let's Say You're A Seasoned Finance Professional
A more experienced financial professional who wants to get an accredited CFA Charter should start taking the exams right away. It's important to have a plan for studying so your work and life don't interfere with your studies.
You can start by reviewing our recommendations and choosing the ones you think will make the most sense for you.
- Make a habit of studying for at least an hour a day - if you’re a morning person, try to get into studying mode early in the day. If you prefer nights, study before going to bed. The most important thing is to find a time that works for you, schedule it in your calendar, and stick to it.
- Consider switching to part-time work - if you have the resources, support from family and friends, and your employer allows you to swap to part-time work for some time, it will free up your schedule so you can study for different levels of the CFA exam. Get in touch with your employer and ask if they will accommodate this short-term request so that you can provide more value to the company once you become a CFA charterholder.
- Consider a leave of absence - if your employer is unwilling to make the transition to part-time employment, consider taking a leave of absence to study for the CFA exam. Think of these as 'study vacations' to focus on studying to pass each level of the CFA exam process. While studying for the CFA Exam is not the most ideal vacation, it will give you the time you need to focus solely on the goal at hand—passing the CFA exam and reaching your career advancement goals sooner.
When deciding if you are ready to start your CFA journey, remember that each CFA Exam level requires different time commitments. CFA candidates typically take between four and five years to become Certified Financial Analysts. This averages out to an average of approximately 300 hours for each level. As you set out your study goals, you want to focus on each level separately.
No two candidates are alike and the examples here are meant to be used as illustrations rather than as the only examples. Thus, each CFA candidate’s situation is different, and these scenarios obviously don't cover all circumstances. Despite whatever circumstances, passing the CFA Exam requires commitment, planning, and almost superhuman perseverance. So you'll need a good study plan, which starts with a strong goal and builds from there.