What is the Difference between CFA® and CPA Designation?
difference between cpa and cfa

A CPA vs. financial advisor is a little more difficult to compare since they have such different job duties. Ultimately, in terms of profession and requirements, a CFP is far more similar to a CFA than a CPA. The CFA CPA combo helps the professional to be seen as an accounting expert within finance, and a finance expert within the accounting field. In our case, this powerful combination helped propel John’s career to become the CFO of a private equity firm and later the head of a reputable family office.

difference between cpa and cfa

Keep in mind that salary amounts vary based on the organization, company, or individual you work for. It also varies based on the region where you live and the knowledge and expertise you bring to the table. It’s no secret that obtaining a CPA certification is generally considered easier than earning a CFA designation. If your personal and professional lives make it difficult to dedicate time toward around 300 hours of studying necessary for the CFA exam, going for a CPA certification might be a better fit. Though these numbers may seem dismal, it’s important to note that test takers are not required to have a degree or any prior experience to take the exam. Instead, these requirements are only necessary to obtain the certification itself.

CPA and CFA Exam Details – Comparative Table

This is because not all companies need to hire a CFA, but they require a CPA’s services. Yes, you can get both the CPA and CFA certifications, but it would be a lot of work to get both. It typically takes candidates about 5-7 years to get both CFA and CPA credentials. Considering which is the better designation is subjective because both offer exciting career paths. Salaries vary for both CPAs and CFAs based on experience, company size, and location.

However, it’s important to note that CPAs are typically afforded more career flexibility. Finally, institutions and individuals often hire CPAs to perform audits. CPA help is also generally sought when a company or individual is undergoing an audit by the IRS or other government agency. You can overcome the odds with proper studying and preparation, however. In 2020, Becker Exam Day ReadySM students reported passing 94% of the CPA Exam sections they attempted.

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The Level 3 CFA exam tests your knowledge of macroeconomics, corporate finance, capital markets, and derivatives. If you’re in the accounting field, you’ve probably heard of both the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designations. Both are well-respected credentials that can open doors and lead to career advancement. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the designation of legally qualified difference between cpa and cfa accountants in many countries around the world. In the US, the designation is administered by the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and requires additional education and work experience in order to obtain the designation. Having both credentials will offer you limitless carer opportunities and you will most likely earn a higher salary having both certification than having either single designation.

difference between cpa and cfa

The level 1 CFA exam tests your knowledge of financial markets, investment analysis, portfolio management, and ethics. The CFA exams consist of three levels, each of which requires a total of 300 hours of professional study to complete. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the gold standard for accounting professionals. It is a globally recognized credential that demonstrates a high level of skill and expertise in financial planning, tax consulting, and other fields. Below is a summary table for helpful reference to easily compare several career paths for financial analysts. On average CFA charter holders get paid 10-20% more than CPAs at the equivalent career and experience positions.

Make the Right Choice with CFA Program

You cannot schedule this test at your convenience, as candidates all over the world take the exam on the same day. The CFA® Level I exam is offered twice each year, in June and December, but Levels II and III are offered only once a year in June. Unlike the CPA exam, the CFA® is a pencil and paper test, rather than computer-based. The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) designations are two of the most sought-after credentials in the financial field. Because the breadth of material is not as wide, and candidates are likely to be reviewing concepts they learnt at work already, the CPA exam requires significantly less time to prepare for than the CFA exam.

difference between cpa and cfa

Let’s dive into a direct comparison between the CPA or CFA designations across several categories. Don't delay; complete your registration to access study materials and candidate resources to begin the CFA Program today.

So, Which is Better: CFA® or CPA?

It completely depends on the candidates that certification or course they opt for based on their interests or backgrounds. Both the certifications have their importance and own values on their own. Both of these courses have immense potential and can help you claim higher salary packages in your career. Such careers not only allow you to grow professionally over the course of time but also allow you to work in countries other than India if you wish to do so.

Most states require at least 15 college credit hours of accounting courses along with 6 hours of business law and 8 hours of taxation. Some states also require CPA candidates to complete at least 150 credit hours before taking the exam, although most only require 120 credits. Considering exam pass rates and recommended amount of study hours, there’s no doubt that the CFA exam is more difficult when compared to the CPA exam, which is why its recommended to use CFA study materials.

  • Yes, you can get both the CPA and CFA certifications, but it would be a lot of work to get both.
  • The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designations are two of the most popular professional designations for finance and accounting.
  • A CPA can help people and companies choose the best course of action in terms of minimizing taxes and maximizing profitability.

Both offer good opportunities for people looking to break into corporate finance. Although there are many differences between a CPA and a CFA, the main difference is their main purpose. If an individual needs help preparing their taxes, he or she would hire a CPA. If an individual has a large sum of money they wish to invest, the individual would hire a CFA. The CFA charter curriculum has three levels and covers a broader range of topics on financial analysis. You can earn this designation by passing the Uniform CPA Exam, which comprises four sections, as well as holding a degree in accounting from a college or university.

CFA Exam Topics

It’s also important to note that though it might take longer to reach the finish line, earning a CFA designation is a prestigious honor. When it comes to comparing the CPA and CFA designation for which is better, the answer lies in your interests, determination, and aptitude. You’ll need to consider what job functions interest you the most and how you envision your professional future. Though both roles are important to their organizations, it’s safe to say that the prestige of the CFA designation demands closer attention to detail and a more robust job description. The first step to making the right choice for you is educating yourself on each option, what they require, and what each designation can do for you.

  • CFAs can work in tandem with CPAs to provide a more micro analysis of how a corporation – or individual – should manage their assets based on the CPAs findings.
  • Because of the high barrier of entry and complicated application process, it is quite a challenge for non-US candidates to take the exam.
  • It can help you make more informed decisions, avoid unnecessary risks, and give you a better overall picture of your business’s current financial situation.

In each of these months, there is a six- to ten-day window in which you may schedule your exam. Because of the high barrier of entry and complicated application process, it is quite a challenge for non-US candidates to take the exam. As we mentioned earlier, CPAs are generally responsible for the day-to-day cashflow of a business or client. More specifically, CPAs draft reports that should accurately reflect their business’s or client’s income and spending. To answer that question, let’s start by detailing each exam individually.

If you would like to learn more about the exam dates, cost, and registration fees, along with other statistics, please check out this page on the CFA Institute website. A chartered financial analyst, or CFA, has deep knowledge of financial analytics and investment allocation. This financial expert has completed the rigorous CFA program, which includes a series of challenging tests administered by the CFA Institute. The CFA charter is a gold standard in the industry, meaning those who successfully earn the designation are among the most respected, effective and ethical investment management professionals. Charterholders are also privy to the prestigious network and career resources offered by the CFA Institute. The American Institute of CPAs noted that while all CPAs are accountants, not all accountants are CPAs.

There are many international testing centers for the CFA exam in major cities and metropolitan areas. Recently, thanks largely to Covid-19 restrictions, the CFA exam switched to an entirely computerized format. Similarly, Levels II and III are now offered in May, August, or November.

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