smart spending

Becoming a pro: MBA vs. CFP, CPA or CFA?

"People with an MBA, they know business and they get what business is all about. They may or may not be numbers people," she says.

To obtain the CPA license in the state you reside, you'll need to meet educational and professional work experience requirements and pass the four-part Uniform CPA Exam, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or AICPA.

In addition to passing the exam, 150 hours of college credit and two years of public accounting experience are required to become a CPA in most states, according to the AICPA website. The fees to take the four individual tests that comprise the AICPA Uniform CPA Exam are $1,000 or more, depending on your state.

Study programs to prepare for the tests cost from $1,050 to $3,245, according to Becker Professional Education, a provider of preparation materials. However, if you work for an accounting firm, it typically will pay the cost of preparation and testing, Campbell says.

She adds that there's a great deal of work to keep your CPA license active, including continuing education and professional development requirements that vary from state to state to stay current on tax code and financial reporting rules.

"With the MBA, you earn it and then you have it the rest of your life," Campbell says.

Chartered financial analyst

The CFA certification program has the reputation of being one of the toughest financial-services credentials to earn because of the high failure rate of its three six-hour exams. "There is no better designation to establish your credibility as a sell-side research analyst or a buy-side portfolio manager," says Cohen.

The program study materials and tests delve deeply into investment portfolio management, Treasury bond and securities analysis, and economics.

Nauta says the CFA is "really like an MBA, but focused on investments."

And the cost to become a CFA holder is less than the expense of getting an MBA degree or other financial-services certifications. Successful candidates spend 300 hours preparing for each of three exams, plus logging four years of qualified work experience.

You'll pay $2,370, which includes a $420 one-time registration fee plus $650 each for the three exams, according to the CFA Institute. Test preparation materials cost from $349 to $1,399, according to Kaplan Schweser, a provider of study materials.

Nauta says he decided to pursue the CFA instead of an MBA degree because he didn't want to take off work for two years for a full-time master's program, and the certification program was less expensive.

He acknowledges that the CFA, like the CFP, can't replicate the MBA's networking pool, and in a big city or on Wall Street an MBA "opens doors for you."

What it takes for financial certification

Certified Financial Planner

  • Prep work: A six-course program online or in the classroom.
  • Cost: $4,500 to $5,000 (estimated).
  • Test work: A 10-hour, two-day final exam.
  • Cost: $595.

Certified public accountant

  • Prep work: 150 hours of college credit and two years of public accounting experience in most states.
  • Cost: $1,050 to $3,245.
  • Test work: Four separate tests make the Uniform CPA Exam.
  • Cost: $1,000 or more, depending on your state including application, registration and exam fees.

Chartered financial analyst

  • Prep work: Study tools and practice exams. Successful candidates spend 300 hours preparing for each of three exams, plus logging four years of qualified work experience.
  • Cost: $349 to $1,399.
  • Test work: Three six-hour exams taken sequentially.
  • Cost: $2,370, including a $420 one-time registration fee plus $650 for each exam.

 

advertisement

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
MORTGAGE HOME EQUITY AUTO CDs CREDIT CARDS
Product Rate Change Last week
30 year fixed 4.22%  0.06 4.16%
15 year fixed 3.32%  0.08 3.24%
5/1 ARM 3.52%  0.17 3.35%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
30K FICO-based HELOC 4.29% --0.00 4.29%
50K FICO-based HELOC 4.04% --0.00 4.04%
100K FICO-based HELOC 3.89% --0.00 3.89%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
60 month used car loan 2.79% --0.00 2.79%
48 month used car loan 2.99%  0.01 2.98%
60 month new car loan 3.24% --0.00 3.24%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
1 Year CD 0.95% --0.00 0.95%
2 Year CD 1.16%  0.01 1.15%
5 Year CD 1.71%  0.04 1.75%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
Balance Transfer Cards 15.75%  0.02 15.77%
Cash Back Cards 16.45%  0.03 16.48%
Low Interest Cards 10.96% --0.00 10.96%
 
Next
advertisement
FRUGAL NEWSLETTER

Discover new ways to cut costs and save more every day. Reduce your spending, not life’s pleasures. Delivered weekly.

advertisement
Partner Center
advertisement

Connect with us