Which Careers Are Best Suited for CFA® Charterholders?

which careers are best suited for CFA charterholders

Finance professionals who have completed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) Program, passed the CFA exam, and have satisfied the requirements for work experience hold CFA Charters. CFA charterholders are respected in the finance industry by this prestigious and elite designation. This article will explore which careers are best suited for CFA charterholders.

Charterholder Careers

The most recent study from the CFA Institute suggests that charterholders maintain various high-level positions in the finance world. Portfolio management continues to dominate other CFA career areas by a significant margin. This is likely due to the specific skill set honed by the CFA program. The other high performing sectors in order include:

  1. Research 
  2. Consulting 
  3. C-level executive 
  4. Investment strategy 
  5. Risk management

Career Trajectory

Often, CFA candidates enter the CFA program to change their career trajectory. Earning the Charter is a mark of excellence that investors, firms, and colleagues readily recognize. A CFA Charter candidate’s future career moves could involve the following paths:

  • Portfolio Management 
  • Investment Banking 
  • Private Equity 
  • Research
  • Corporate Finance

Top Careers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics can provide the most up-to-date information on each previously mentioned career. However, the following is a briefing on the top five careers that CFA charterholders have or are currently in the CFA program to obtain.

1. Buy-Side Research

Financial analysts who work for institutional investors rather than individuals are often employed in buy-side research. They research investments and recommend investments to large investors such as pension funds, hedge funds, or mutual funds. Buy-side researchers earn an average of $108,516 per year. These types of positions are growing at 5% annually.

2. Consulting 

A consultant is someone who works within a company to provide financial advice. Their job is to advise the company on how best to increase profit and decrease loss. Financial consultants make an average of $89,330 a year, and the job outlook is growing at 11%.

3. Investment Banking

Investment banking has several subsectors. They assist with initial public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, underwriting, and long-term analysis. Investment bankers have a wider range of pay depending on the sector, but averages approximately $115,000 per year, with a growth outlook at 15%.

4. Risk Management

Risk management occurs every moment of every day in the world of finance. Risk managers research and analyze potential risks with a potential investment. Managers then weigh the risks against the projected return and decide whether the investment matches the fund’s overall goals. Risk management analysts earn an average of $72,858 per year. Job growth in this area is around 9% annually. 

5. Corporate Finance

Typically, when people mention ‘corporate finance’ in passing, they refer to the highest-paid and most highly regarded segment in finance. By comparison, the average annual wage of highly paid executives in corporate finance is around $107,213, with a job outlook of 1%.

C-Level Executives

Becoming a C-Level Executive requires several years of experience, knowledge, certifications, and know-how. A CFA Charter is an excellent credential to demonstrate that you possess executive-level skill sets and qualifications. Keep in mind that additional qualifications may be necessary to position yourself for one of these positions.Your networking ability and soft skills alongside a broad understanding across industry segments will be essential to have an advantage over other candidates.

Whether changing careers, leveling up your current career, or specializing in a niche field, the CFA Charter can benefit the next step of your professional journey.


  1. What Does a CFA Do: Jobs & Salaries for CFAs
  2. Business and Financial Occupations: Occupational Outlook Handbook: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Personal Financial Advisors: Occupational Outlook Handbook: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
  4. Buy Side Analyst Annual Salary ($108,516 Avg | Jul 2021) 
  5. Investment Banker Salary Report: What They Make May Shock You 
  6. Investment Banker: Job Outlook and Career Growth 
  7. Salary: Risk Management Analyst 
  8. Salary: Corporate Finance Executive
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