What is CFA? How to become CFA : A Complete Guide

What is CFA & Full Form of CFA

The (CFA) , also known as Chartered Financial Analyst (Full Form), is one of the most sought-after professions in the field of finance.

How to become CFA in 2024

The investing industry is a highly competitive and volatile field. CFA course(Chartered Financial Analyst) is designed to thrive in this fierce industry. The course is structured to provide you with the expertise and real-life skills to succeed in the investment analysis business. The course is open to everyone- a working professional, a student, for those switching fields or careers.
This course is usually taken up by those who study or work in Finance, Accounting, Economics, or Business but is not restricted to only them.
These are the steps on how to become CFA in India, You need to complete the CFA courses successfully, become a member of the CFA Institute, Pass the CFA exams, and Be a certified Chartered Financial Analyst. After holding the CFA certification, one can hold senior executive positions like Chief Investment Officer, Risk Manager, Asset Manager, etcetera.

Subjects and weightage

To become a certified Chartered Financial Analyst, one would have to pass three levels of exams. There are ten subjects in the CFA course, and all the subjects have different weightage at each level. The subjects and their weightage in each level are as below: -
Subject Level I Level II Level III
Ethical and Professional Standards 15-20 10-15 10-15
Quantitative Methods 8-12 5-10 0
Economics 8-12 5-10 5-10
Financial Reporting and Analysis 13-17 10-15 0
Corporate Finance 8-12 5-10 0
Equity Investments 10-12 10-15 10-15
Fixed Income 10-12 10-15 15-20
Derivatives 5-8 5-10 5-10
Alternative Investments 5-8 5-10 5-10
Portfolio and Wealth Management 5-8 10-15 35-40

CFA exam pattern

The CFA question paper pattern for the exams is as follows: -
-     Level I- Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs)
-     Level II- Vignette supported MCQs
-     Level III- Vignette supported MCQs and vignette supported essay type questions
For a Level I exam, there would be 180 MCQs to be attempted. The exam has two 135-minute sessions with an optional break, and each session has 90 MCQs.
The Level II exam is split equally into two sessions, too, a total of 4  hours and 24 minutes with 88 MCQs and an optional break in between.
A Level III exam is of the same duration as Level II, with the only difference being the MCQs and essay-type questions.
The exam results are declared within 60 days of taking the exam in Level I and Level II, whereas in the case of Level III, it takes around 90 days.

CFA exam pass rate

The 10-year average pass rate for the Level I, Level II, and Level III exams are 42%, 45%, and 54%, respectively. The recommended time to be spent on preparing the CFA course for each level is 300 hours.  
For CFA, an applicant wanting to appear for the exams will have to pay a one-time registration fee of $450. For each course level, you will have to pay anywhere between $700-$1,000, depending on when you apply.
A candidate appearing for an exam can choose when to attempt it. There are various options to choose from as mentioned below:
List of Windows Level I Level II Level III
Window 1 February February February 
Window 2 May August May 
Window 3 August November August
Window 4 November    

CFA course eligibility criteria

If you're unsure about the CFA eligibility requirements or how to become CFA in India, here's a checklist:
  • Should have a bachelors degree received from a university/college. Or they could select a window for the exam to have 11 months or fewer before the graduation month of the bachelors degree (the degree must be completed before appearing for the Level II exam). Another option is to have at least 4000 hours of professional work experience (it does not have to be an investment-related field).
  • Should be able to take the test in English.
  • Should have a valid international travel passport.
However, there are certain rules when it comes to retaking the exams. A CFA exam can be taken two times in a year but not consecutively or within windows apart for six months or less. A candidate has six attempts per level to pass. These are the first steps to be considered on how to become CFA in India.

How to become CFA in India

If you are unsure about the process of how to become CFA in India, Here is our step-by-step process to help you solve your question of How to become CFA in India.
Pass all three levels of exams.
The CFA is composed of three levels of exams that contain a dedicated syllabus. You must pass all three levels of the exam to become a CFA charter holder.
Work Experience
Complete the required work experience at any time during, before, or after participation in the program. The experience gained should be linked directly to the process of making investment decisions.
Two to three professional references are required.
In As part of your membership application, you will need to provide 2-3 professional references. Your references will be asked to comment on your work experience and professional character.
Apply to become a CFA charter holder
Join CFA Institute as a regular member. Once you have been accepted and joined CFA Institute, you will be a CFA charter holder. This is the last and most important step how to becoming CFA in India.
 Follow these four steps if you want to learn How to become CFA in India.

The benefits of becoming a CFA

CFA course demand a lot of time, effort, and money from a candidate, but it comes with its own set of advantages, which are as follows: -

Learning scope

CFA as a program aims at cultivating a real-life scenario enriched curriculum. This helps the candidates to excel in their professional work environment. It allows the candidates to stay ahead of the curve and be a part of the change in the business environment.

Job opportunities and salary

CFA adds value to your CV and increases your value in the field of investments and finance.
It opens big doors for you like, for example, people holding the CFAs are known to have been employed with Big Fours and Top Accounting firms like Delloite, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Royal Bank of Canada, etcetera.
The average base salary of a CFA charter-holder is also more than other non-charter-holders. The average total compensation for a CFA-certified professional in the US is $300,000. In India, you could be earning anywhere between 5 lakhs to 10 lakhs.

Networking opportunities:

CFA course is globally recognized which opens up the world for exploring the candidate. There is a global cohort of CFA aspirants who eventually become your network. You can meet and learn from people who are at the top of their fields.


1. Is it too hard to crack the CFA exams?

CFA is a comparatively difficult exam to crack. But with the right guidance and a strict study schedule, one can pass the exam. As recommended by the CFA Institute, a candidate has to study for a minimum of 3 hours for each level. The trick is to learn how to ace a MCQ patterned paper. Being dedicated to studying and not getting distracted will be a challenge to overcome.

2. What kind of jobs do CFAs get?

A CFA can hold senior executive positions in domains like Credit Analysis, financial planning, investment banking, accounting, trading, etcetera.

3. What are the steps in becoming a CFA?

After passing all the three levels of exams, a candidate will have to fulfill the recommended working hours in the related industry. A CFA candidate will also have to provide 2-3 references. Post completion of the above requirements, a candidate will be eligible to apply to become a charter holder.

4. Can I re-take the CFA exam, if I fail?

A CFA exam can be taken two times in a year but not consecutively or within windows that are apart for 6 months or less. A candidate has 6 attempts per level to pass.

5. How to become CFA in India?

To become CFA in India you should pass three levels of the exam, complete the work experience requirement, have 2-3 professional references, and finally apply to the CFA charter. These are the simple steps on How to become CFA in India.


CFA course is the best for someone who wants to dive deep into the field of finance and investing. It not only offers opportunities for higher-paying global job opportunities, but you also get the opportunity to work with top companies like Goldman Sachs, Accenture, Big 4 firms, etc. If you are looking to hold the coveted title of the CFA, then you can speak with the experts at NorthStar Academy, who will turn all your dreams into reality3
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