A person who aspires to be a financial professional has several choices. Two designations are CPA and CFA. Both professional designations are earned by education, experience, and passing board tests.
Both professionals must follow strict ethics and integrity codes. It takes a lot of study and preparation to earn both designations and both professionals will make a good income over their careers. A person deciding which area of financial practice to prepare for needs to learn the differences in the two career choices.
General Comparison of CPA and CFA Financial Professionals
The financial professionals who earn the designation CFA and CPA both train and practice extensively in preparation for multi-part professional testing. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute. They both have stringent educational requirements and requirements for experience.
These two financial professionals have related duties as a CPA puts together or audits financial reports, the CFA will often analyze those same reports. The CPA is most often associated with audits, accounting, and taxes. The CFA is more often known for investment analysis and client wealth planning.
So, a CFA will often use financial reports produced by a CPA such as company annual reports to recommend investments in securities available from the companies.
Preparing To Test For A CPA or CFA Designation
A person who wants a career in the financial sector must decide which area to train and test for. There are online test preparation classes for both designations. There are even Live CPA Classes to choose from. This class schedule has designated times and then if a person misses that live class they can access it for later viewing. Each topic is covered several times per year.
These training programs also make available to their student’s other resources such as online videos, books, flashcards, and practice questions. They even offer a printable version of the live class schedule.
There are preparation and review classes available for both financial specialties. The student will need to search online for the best programs to meet their budget, learning style, and testing needs.
4 Differences Between CPA and CFA Designations
The CPA and CFA designations have much in common but also 4 important differences. Knowing these differences will help a person choosing a financial career path to make choices.
- The purpose of the two designations is the main difference. The CPA produces financial reports and helps prepare taxes. The CFA advises people on how to invest their money.
- There are training differences. The CFA must complete training and testing through the CFA Institute. The CPA must meet state requirements for training and experience as well as take a 4 part accreditation test. CPAs are also often required to be licensed and take continuing education classes.
- The cost of sitting for the CPA and CFA exams is different. The costs vary and the cost of review courses must also be added in. The average cost of testing for the CPA designation is $800.00. There is a one-time program enrollment fee of $450.00 plus an exam fee of $930.00 for the CFA exams. This fee adds up as a person needs to take 4 tests for the CPA and 3 tests for the CFA designation.
- The Last Difference is Career Options. The CPAs have more career areas to choose from. The CFAs will mainly work in the investment area. Each area of practice has its advantages. the path to take depends on the career path each person prefers to take.