The CFA fees add up and cost a fortune!
Before you get into the details on how to apply and what to study for the exam, let’s take a good objective look at the cost and then you can decide to go ahead based on your own budget.
For specific cost breakdown for Level 1, 2 and 3, you can scroll down or click on these buttons for respective information:
All amount in US dollars.
There are 3 layers of fees you’ll need to pay for the exam:
a) CFA Enrollment Fee
This is a one-time program enrollment fee of $450 when you apply for Level I exam. You don’t need to pay again for Level 2 and 3.
b) CFA Exam Fees for Registration
This CFA registration fee is the same for all three levels, but it varies depending on when you commit to the exam. You need to apply 9 months before the exam date to get the early bird discount.
You may want to check out this page on CFA testing windows for the deadlines.
c) Curriculum Fee
The cost of ebooks is included in the exam fee. If you pick the print version, you’ll need to pay US$150 on top.
Total Program Costs
All in all, you can expect the overall CFA exam fees to be $2,400 to $4,590:
|# months before exam date||8.5 months||3.5 months||2.5 months|
|Total CFA program fees||$2,400||$3,300||$4,590|
The need to take the CFA review courses has somewhat diminished since CFA Institute began to publish its own review guide in 2008 (that’s what you are going to get from the “curriculum” cost).
However, given the relatively low CFA pass rate, many candidates continue to get help from various CFA review courses to increase their chance of passing success.
These guides range from self-study books to fully-integrated guided review courses with cost varies from $50-ish to $1,500 for each level. You can learn more about the major providers here.
If you are lucky enough to live where CFA exam sites are located, then you don’t need to worry about this expense. However, since the CFA exam is available only in major cities, there is a good chance that you’ll need to include the travel and accommodation cost in your budget.
Remember to multiply this cost by 3 for the three exam levels.
If you haven’t already, please get one of the approved CFA calculators. They range from $30-60. You can check out the pricing and their pros and cons in this comparison page.
Other costs include possible exam retake fees, and possibly the fee to renew your passport which will be used as your identification at the exam site.
Most readers with question on cost are planning to take the Level 1 exam. Here is your budget for the upcoming exam:
|Registration Date||Enrollment||CFA level 1 fees||Total|
|Early (By Sep 21, 2016)||$450||$650||$1,100|
|Regular (By Feb 15, 2017)||$450||$930||$1,380|
|Late (By Mar 15, 2017)||$450||$1,380||$1,830|
The CFA early registration fee in 2017 remains to be $650, but those for regular and late registration increase by $70 and $100 respectively from last year.
The CFAI curriculum is included in the exam fee, those no extra cost incurred.
Although one can rely on the CFAI book to pass the exam, more than 70% of candidates get extra review materials, either as supplementary or replacement of the CFAI book.
Here is the cost breakdown of major providers for your reference:
|Book /notes only||$325||$359||$225|
The range is quite big, but please expect to spend $1,100 at the minimum. For those who register late and choose to get the premium course from the most expensive provider (Schweser), it will cost more than $3,300 for Level 1 alone.
|Registration Date||CFA level 2 fees|
|Early (By Sep 21, 2016)||$650|
|Regular (By Feb 15, 2017)||$930|
|Late (By Mar 15, 2017)||$1,380|
The cost is the same as that of Level 1 except that you don’t need to pay the one-time enrollment fee.
The CFAI text book is again provided free. For review courses, Fitch’s Level 2 courses are slightly more expensive than their Level 1 course.
|Book /notes only||$325||$359||$225|
Level 2 CFA fees range from $650, to almost $3,000 for those register late and get the most expensive review package.
The exam fee is exactly the same as that of Level 2. As for the CFA courses, Fitch’s premium offer is $1,220. The other stays the same.
Similar to Level 2, Level 3 CFA fees range from $650, to almost $3,000 for those register late and get the most expensive review package.
Please expect $3,000 as the minimum on this “CFA investment”. The vast majority of candidates spend more than that. Those with multiple retakes can spend more than $10,000 on this designation.
The CFA designation isn’t for everyone.
But if you stay in the finance industry, I would say yes in the long run.
Everyone’s case is different, but in some professions such as equity analyst and asset management professionals, getting the CFA charter is a must, if not a prerequisite. In other finance related careers such as hedge fund and anything related to investment, getting a CFA early in your career does help.
We have a video breaking down each CFA cost item:
The CFA investment is big, but if you think it’s worth it, it is best to take the journey and reap the benefits as soon as possible! Here are two actionable steps for you:
Source: CFA Institute
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