Now or Later: When should you pursue the CFA® charter?
The CFA® charter is an exceptional catalyst for getting a head start in the financial field. Being a university student, you would have definitely thought about whether you should start planning for Level I while you're still a student or post your graduation. An individual’s ability to succeed or fail with either choice is highly dependent on one’s available time frame, goals and level of commitment.
In order to identify where the CFA® program fits best in your vocation journey, a summary of considerations for and against starting the CFA® program while at university or after graduation has been listed below.
Beginning the CFA® program in University:
1. Greater availability of spare time
Although not certain for all undergraduate degrees, this stands true for a majority of undergraduate students. The deadlines at a university are relatively less cumbersome and time constrained in relation to the job deadlines this is crucial when considering the additional learning hours that need to be invested for CFA training and CFA preparation.
2. Head Start in comparison to one’s peers
As a student, you would be surrounded with professors who are highly likely to be associated with industry associations. Your interest towards career growth would help you to stand out against your peers and therefore provide the required push for career recommendations by your professors. This advantage could open the door to your career goals faster than when you graduate.
3. Won’t be financially bound
The CFA® charter isn’t the cheapest of qualifications which means that discounts are crucial. Being a student opens the pathway to prospective discounts by CFA training organizations considering college debt. Along with CFA training institutes, the CFA Institute also offers grants for students who can't cope with the educational expenses.
1. Work-life balance may be hard to achieve
The CFA® exam requires utmost dedication which according to most CFA candidates is 300+ hours of preparation. The perception that your social life, university and the CFA® exam preparation can take place smoothly with an organized schedule might be a mistake. Along with that, it may also be difficult to focus on finding appropriate job experience for your CFA® charter. Therefore, prepare yourself for compromises.
Beginning the CFA® program after Graduation:
1. You can commit all your time solely to the CFA® program
You may not have much time after you graduate but the amount of time available can be solely invested towards the CFA® charter. And provided you are working, the real-life work experience will provide you with an insight into the CFA® program curriculum and help you understand it better. It’s always better to focus on one subject rather than five varied subjects that require your commitment.
2. Your company could be willing to take up the cost
Majority of the companies value the CFA® charter and some value it so much that they are willing to sponsor it. This isn’t true for all companies of course, but it can be a great advantage if the company is willing to support employee growth and learning.
1. A setback when trying to find a job
Unless you can afford to take time off to prepare for the CFA® charter, you are going to have to work while you are studying. On the off chance that you don't have a position available for you when you graduate, job hunting can take up a lot of your time. Completing theLevel I CFA® exam before you graduate can provide you with a window of time to discover a vocation before moving toLevel II CFA® exam.
2. Life post - graduation gets more hectic
Most of the time, a majority of the tasks that we put off for later do not get done. This is on account of the suspicion that you'll have additional time later which is generally a myth. In case you plan on waiting to start the Level I CFA® exam after you've anchored a job, you're likely to reason that you don’t have to prepare for your classes as well. That may be valid, yet the CFA® program requires you to learn in depth and have a clear understanding especially with the new topics of fintech being included.
3. Professional success could be delayed
In the event that you wait until you've prepared for Level I CFA® exam, you might postpone your professional growth. One reason individuals start getting ready for the exam prior is that it puts them on a quicker track to the goal they plan on achieving. Therefore, the perception that you can dedicate time especially for the CFA® charter, may slow down the growth plan.
All in all, this decision is highly dependent on you. Perhaps you read through this article and feel positive that the university/CFA® program balance is easier to manage compared to the work/CFA® program balance, it’s better to start at the earliest. On the other hand, if you believe that you need work experience or would like to get a job before you start your CFA® charter as a sense of security, that would be a good option too due to the real-life experience you will have. Either way, both the options are feasible provided you take into consideration all of the above.
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