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Financial Careers: Choosing an FRM or CFA Certification or Both

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If you enjoy watching the stock market and love helping people, a career in the financial services field could be the perfect fit. Financial planners and other professionals work hard to help their clients prepare for the future, fund college education for their children and get ready for retirement.

Since the financial planning community performs so many valuable functions, the industry uses a number of certifications to ensure that individuals have the training and expertise they need to do a great job. Two of the most popular certifications in the financial services industry are the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credentials. If you are getting ready to embark on a career in finance, you may be wondering which certification to get – or if you should go all out and get both.

The FRM Certification

The typical Financial Risk Manager (FRM) certification level one course will include about 50 hours of lectures, either in person or online, along with additional training to help students learn the skills they need to help their clients.

The training will also include a series of practice quizzes and sample tests designed to help students pass the rigorous FRM certification exam. A good FRM training course will also provide ready access to certified instructors and examples of how the certification is used in the real world. After all, the goal of any financial certification should be providing better service to the paying client.

The CFA Certification

The training for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) level one certification is similar to that of the FRM credential. When you sign up for a CFA level one training course, you can expect to spend about 80 hours on classroom instruction (either virtual or live), along with a series of practice quizzes and information on taking the certification exam.

A quality CFA certification course will also include examples of real-world work for the CFA-certified professional. It goes without saying that the people providing the instructions should be CFA-certified themselves, but it is still a good idea to check.

The Value of Double Certification

On their own, both the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Financial Risk Manager (FRM) certifications can be extremely valuable. Both of these certifications have rigorous requirements, and the tests needed to obtain them are difficult. The intensive training needed to obtain these certifications provides reassurance that the individuals who hold them have experience that they will be able to translate into real world scenarios.

The difficulty of obtaining the CFA and FRM certifications also provide reassurance to employers who are looking for new members of their financial team. Holding either certification can improve your chances of landing a job in the financial services industry, but holding both certifications can be even more valuable. Learn more about finance management certification at

How to Decide

If you are trying to get your foot in the door and get a job in the financial services industry, it is a good idea to do your homework and determine which certifications are most valued by local employers. There are a number of ways to obtain this information, from scanning local want ads and job postings to asking friends who already work in the industry.

Social media sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook can also give you insight into which certifications are valued most highly in the financial services industry where you live. If the area where you live is populated by large banks and investment firms, the FRM certification, with its strong focus on identifying and controlling risk, may be held in high esteem. If you live in an area with large multinational corporations, the CFA certification and its emphasis on strategic analysis may be more in demand.

In the end, you can always hedge your bets and obtain both certifications. Going for both the CFA and FRM certifications will require more effort on your part, and perhaps more money as well. In the end, however, the value of the double certification may be well worth the extra effort and the extra expense. Even after the financial meltdown, the financial services industry is one of the highest paying segments of the job market. If you land a high-paying job in the industry, the cost of the CFA and FRM certifications will be just a drop in the bucket.


Chandana is a Senior Content Writer for She has a M.A. in English Literature from Gauhati University and is PRINCE2 Foundation certified. Her unique and refreshing writing style continues to educate and inspire readers from around the world.