CFA vs CPA: What’s the Difference?


The CFA’s popularity has shot up since the CFA Institute reached out to countries around the world in 1988. Today, CFA charter holders are active across the globe, and China has the highest number of CFA applicants. Lastly, if you are committed to taking the CIA exam, you’ll need to review the best CIA exam tips and learn about the CIA exam changes. The answer to that question for most accountants is the Certified Public Accountant certification.

Some states require as many as 150 semester hours to obtain the CPA. Below are details of the coursework and study each designation requires, what careers they typically lead to, and how much they pay. The pay packages you will get as a CPA CFA are better than holding one certification. With your CFA certification, you can earn around $87,000 to $499,000 per year, depending on your designation and years of experience.

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Thus, you must be particularly enterprising, daring, and skilled to make headway in financial planning. If you’re still weighing CPA or CFP based on job growth, the two designations have the same growth rate. Hence, if you desire the CPA financial planner combinations, you can earn them within five years.

CFA vs. CPA – Which is harder?

So, while the CIA exam has a more narrow focus than the CPA Exam, both exams are challenging. Moreover, since the CIA exam has fewer requirements than the CPA exam, candidates who take the exam may have less accounting knowledge. Therefore, CIA candidates without a bachelor’s in accounting may find the CIA exam difficulty level higher than candidates with a deep understanding of accounting. The CIA exam passing score is 600, and like the CPA Exam, the score is scaled. The CPA Exam covers accounting topics such as financial accounting, management accounting, corporate finance, strategic planning, audit, general business, and U.S. taxation. In fact, the CPA Exam covers so much material that it actually consists of 4 different sections and hundreds of questions.

  • A smaller percentage of CFA charter holders are employed as financial advisors managing client assets.
  • While the CFA designation allows you to develop well-rounded skills outside the realm of accounting, its scope is narrower than that of the CPA because it only covers finance and investment.
  • They use investments to produce revenue for their clients, and some charterholders buy or sell securities, funds, and more on behalf of their clients.
  • In total, Becker students passed more than 33,000 sections of the CPA Exam, which represents more than 1/3 of all CPA Exam sections passed in 2020.

Pass rates for both the CFA and CPA exams are updated with each testing administration. CA is purely accounting and if you are planning to move into investment banking, CA degree alone may not help alot. With you being CA from ICAI, none of the degress like canadian CA, US CPA or CFA will be difficult. If you are interested in financial analysis, then CFA is right designation to look at as it has a global appeal and also suits your interests and work experience. If you are neutral to the choice of finance careers, then my take would be that you start with CFA as it is more broad based and provide wide array of career choices and learnings. Basically, I consider an accounting certification and an advanced degree different enough that you can get both, as they serve distinct purposes.


There are 10 case studies in the morning and 10 case studies in the afternoon section. As part of that evaluation, it is important to understand each designation and the potential career benefits. This article will explain the similarities and differences of each designation. Some job titles with above-average compensation include CFA Python, CFA Private equity, and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst. For CFAs, the average salary is $71,969 annually or roughly $35 an hour. Related job titles with higher-than-average compensation include Healthcare CPA, Remote Tax Manager, and Tax Manager.


If you do not have specific interest in Finance, then you may look at CFA as it provides better opportunities within Financial Industry. If the MBA institute is not well known, then it may not be worth taking. I just want to ask doing pg will boost my opportunity in corporate sector or I can do any other course bt not ca .

Difference Between CPA and CFA

Hence which degree is better for me ACCA or CFA- USA. Since CFA is more toward equity,derivative and Portfolio management. That’s a great idea if you have interest in Corporate finance related topics . If you want to make a career in accounting and auditing, then CPA is the right choice. You can consider these only if you have a very keen interest in Finance and accounting field as such. Fixed IncomeFixed Income refers to those investments that pay fixed interests and dividends to the investors until maturity.

You need a minimum of 300 hours to prepare for each CFA exam level. Candidates are to study for and take all four exams within this period. The Institute of Management Accountants expects candidates to complete the CMA program in 36 months, but many of them complete it in a year. Thus, the total cost for professionals is $1,080, while students pay $810. While professionals pay $250 as the entrance fee for CMA, students pay $188.

CPA vs. CFA® Designation

Instead, these requirements are only necessary to obtain the certification itself. It’s important to recognize that “CPA” isn’t a job or role but a designation. CPAs are responsible for a wide range of job duties, which can vary based on the client. They complete financial accounting for individual clients and businesses that need support to reach their financial goals. I also found accounting to be one of the hardest sections on the CFA exam. That makes sense because a solid understanding of the accounting that drives changes in corporate financial statements is required to accurately evaluate a business.

The three accounting certifications have their impact and area of specialization. A university degree is the minimum educational qualification for the three programs, but the CMA also allows equivalent certifications. There are many opportunities for CFAs in commercial banking, investment banking, asset management, insurance, and private wealth management. The time and resources you commit to earning any of these three designations are worth it, and rest assured of your return on investment. However, if you are diligent with studying the appropriate review courses, you’ll ace the exams once.


If you are really interested in analyst kind of role in Investment Banking, then pursing CFA is a better option. What i saw at my firm was that internal job postings for such roles are rare and cannot be made as a long term strategy. Regarding my situation – I have finished my MBA and had worked for a scheduled bank for 15 months. Now I want to add some weightag to my profile and want to pursue more knowledge in finance.

But we hope the information in this article has empowered you to make a smarter decision. Ultimately, your choice will come down to what kinds of things you like to do, your career goals and your threshold for continued education and study after earning your bachelor’s degree. The primary difference between the CPA and CFA is that the CPA is an accounting credential, while the CFA is for financial analysis. While they are related in many ways, accounting and finance are ultimately separate fields. Could you please help me in selecting the CPA or CFA course for my future career path. I am into UK Mutual Funds financial reporting field with above 8 years of experience.

CFA® Program vs. CPA

There are two main courses that make you qualified in each of these fields. The Certified Public Accountant course allows you to work as a professional accountant whereas with Chartered Financial Analyst Course you can work as a professional Financial Analyst. We don’t recommend pursuing two entirely different certifications unless you’re switching from one to the other. For instance, CMA and EA have almost nothing in common, and there’s no real job benefit to earning these 2 together. Conversely, employers are often impressed if you have two complementary certifications, like the CMA and CPA, or the CIA and CPA. The IRS created this distinction in 1884, so it’s a few years older than the CPA.

Earning one additional title can then help distinguish you even further. “Enrolled” means licensed to practice by the federal government, and “agent” means a person authorized to appear in the place of the taxpayer at the IRS. Having said that, the CFA is a great avenue for going deeper into the realm of investment. Determine how to become a CFA today if that’s the realm for you. Learn about the best CFA courses(like the top-rated AnalystPrep CFA Review) and CFA review discounts. You can also utilize the CFA globally, as the CFA is the most international accounting and finance designation.

Clearly, the is the accounting certification of choice, but if you need any more reason to respect it, you should know that it is one of the oldest accounting certifications. The CPA’s long history began in 1896, yet thousands of candidates sit for the exam yearly. So, for this reason, I’ve shared my analysis of these top accountant certifications and finance certifications to help you discover which is right for you. To decide whether to do the CFA after CA qualification, you first have to work out what your objective is in terms of career path and the content you’re interested in learning.

The exam consists of two parts that cover 12 core competencies. Do not try to get the CPA and CFA at the same time even if you have no job. I have an undergrad in Finance, had real world experience in FP&A before persuing an MBA. I am currently now just pursuing the CPA, but that was after heavy analysis of the CPA vs CFP vs CMA. If I’m not mistaken getting the CPA requires much more formal education to sit for it. Don’t delay; complete your registration to access study materials and candidate resources to begin the CFA Program today.

With this certification, you are licensed by the state jurisdiction of your choice. The primary difference in professionals with a CPA, CMA, or CFA certification lies in their area of expertise. While a CPA specializes in general accounting and finance, a CMA is an expert in management accounting and a CFA in finance and investment services.

Along with this, the companies which seek for experts with deeper knowledge in the financial domain also hire the CAs with CFA professional qualification. The CA+CFA holders are considered as the best combination of skills for financial professionals. Majority of Chartered Accountants are heading towards to opt for the CFA program as there is high demand for financial analyst professionals into the global firms.

While most cpa and cfa think of the US when referring to CPA, each country grants the CPA title to aspiring accountants within their territory. For instance, we have CPA Canada, CPA Australia, and Hong Kong. You may apply for exemptions based on your qualifications and experience.