CFA® Charter: Salary and Benefits

Exploring the salary and benefits associated with the distinguished CFA credential.

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CFA Salaries

It pays to be part of an exclusive club. A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder’s median income depends on various financial factors: base salary, company cash, and performance bonuses, commissions, and stock options. Average salary also depends on added compensation structures, such as company equity or profit-sharing. Per the Corporate Finance Institute, charterholders can have high salaries compared to other professionals in the finance industry. 

And it gets better: not only do charterholders earn considerably more than their peers, but charterholders report also report better job satisfaction. According to Payscale.com (as of January 2020), charterholders earn between $50,000 and $300,000 per year, depending on several factors. These include academic background, work experience, the city in which they reside, employer size and industry, and career path.

Academic Background

Charterholders with a bachelor’s degree earn slightly less than those with graduate degrees, according to the joint 2018 Financial Compensation Report by the CFA Society of Madison and Milwaukee. Charterholders with a bachelor’s degree earn a median total compensation of $162,500, whereas, for those with a graduate degree, that figure is $237,357. 

While attaining a graduate degree can increase your salary and advance your career, years of work experience in the profession can sometimes make up for any educational discrepancies in overall earning potential.

Years of Experience

For many charterholders, increased salary comes with more work experience. Mid-to-late career professionals earn much more than their entry-level counterparts.
Graduation
Wall street

Location

Where a charterholder lives can influence their salary. Charterholders living in larger urban metropolitan cities will earn much more than those living in smaller towns or rural areas. International financial hubs such as New York City, San Francisco, Dallas, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Dubai, will pay charterholders higher salaries.

Popular Companies for CFA Charterholders

Where do most charterholders work? Popular companies for CFA charterholders include J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Wells Fargo & Co, Ernst & Young, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., The Northern Trust Company, UBS Group AG, and Bank of America Corp. These employers tend to pay higher CFA salaries.

Industry

The industry a charterholder chooses also impacts salary. The Balance Careers website states: CFA charterholders working for foundations or trusts make an average of just around $100,000 annually, while those in private practice with a firm earn approximately $85,000. Those who work for federal, state, or local governmental entities earn between $81,400 and $87,000 a year. Hospital-based CFA charterholders earn around $92,600, and college or university charterholder employees make around $75,000. Self-employed and contract CFA charterholders tend to earn higher salaries than charterholders who work within large organizations, with 20-year veterans earning $170,900 per year on average.

Job Type

The Chartered Financial Institute indicates the median total compensation for charterholders by job type in the chart below. 

Title
Compensation

Financial Analyst (corporate)

$80,930

Portfolio Manager (fixed income)

$253,250

Portfolio Manager (equities)

$316,600

Chief Investment Officer

$344,500

While several factors are responsible for the variance in a charterholder’s compensation, the charter’s salary boost is undeniable. The CFA credential generally increases overall salary and compensation, giving charterholders an advantage in the job market.
Successful Finance career

CFA Benefits

There are several benefits of becoming a charterholder. The CFA designation is the highest distinction that you can achieve in your career as an investment management/finance professional. Among many other benefits, the CFA charter is considered the gold standard in the finance and investment industries. Once you obtain the CFA credential, it sets you up for global recognition and successful career advancement. Here are some of the benefits of the CFA charter.

Salary and Compensation

Some of the benefits of the CFA credential are higher overall salary and compensation. It also gives you an advantage in the job market. Attaining the credential showcases your drive and commitment to achieve a difficult specialization. It also helps you stand out to future employers. According to the Corporate Finance Institute, “Charterholders can have salaries that are quite high, relative to other professionals in the finance industry.” And, the good news is that salaries are not only higher for charterholders than those in similar professions, but charterholders report also being highly satisfied with their overall careers.

Additional Value

Further benefits of the CFA credential include providing career advancement opportunities, higher salaries, and other advantages to investment management professionals. The CFA charter also holds excellent added value. According to the CFA Institute, some of the benefits of the charter include:

  • A robust global network of top industry professionals
  • Strong foundation and commitment to ethics and professionalism
  • Real-world skills for making complex investment decisions
  • Recognized and welcomed by markets and employers globally
  • Unmatched expertise in both practical investment analysis and management skills
  • Access to career-advancing tools and education
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Finance team in meeting

Increased Knowledge and Expertise

Securing the CFA charter is not easy and requires a tremendous amount of time and effort. Still, the benefits of receiving the designation outweigh any challenges you’ll meet while completing the program. Faster career growth, higher salary, and instant respect and credibility are just a few of the benefits a charterholder will receive with the designation. 

Plus, charterholders amass a more in-depth and broader knowledge of the financial and investment professions while working through the program. This knowledge not only transfers to a strong value-add to top employers wanting to employ charterholders but also gives charterholders a distinct advantage over their non-charterholder peers.

Earned Respect

Perhaps the ultimate benefit of the CFA charter is the feeling of satisfaction you get from joining a very exclusive and prestigious club in the finance industry. Attaining the CFA credential showcases your drive and commitment to achieve a difficult specialization. It also earns you the respect of future employers and your peers.

CFA Institute does not endorse, promote, or warrant the accuracy or quality of the products or services offered by UWorld Finance. CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA Institute.

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