Suggestion #10: Learn more about relevant industry exams / certifications / designations that you may want to pursue; consider starting to study, if possible at the undergraduate level, and if it makes sense based on your career goals and personal situation.
Here is a list of some of the top finance certifications:
- Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam: The Securities Industry Essentials® (SIE®) Exam is a new FINRA exam for prospective securities industry professionals. This introductory-level exam assesses a candidate’s knowledge of basic securities industry information including concepts fundamental to working in the industry, such as types of products and their risks; the structure of the securities industry markets, regulatory agencies and their functions; and prohibited practices. Learn more here.
- Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) Certification: The CFA® designation is highly sought after by finance professionals around the world. It consists of three levels and takes an average of about four years to complete all three levels. It is widely regarded as one of the top finance certifications. The main focus of this finance certification is on portfolio management and investment analysis. The main exam topics include ethical and professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, portfolio management, equity, fixed income, derivatives, and alternative investments. Some Bentley students sit for the exam in December of their senior year or June following graduation. Learn more about Level I CFA® here.
- Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA®) Designation: The CAIA® certification is focused on alternative investments and geared toward professionals in the asset management and hedge fund industries. The main topics covered in the CAIA® are ethics, hedge funds, private equity, real assets, structured products, asset allocation, and risk management. CAIA® is one of the top finance certifications. Learn more here.
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Certification: Earning a CFP® designation can be a great path for anyone looking at a career in investment or wealth management. As the name implies, it’s focused on financial planning, which is the retail or high net worth segment of investment management. CFP® is one of the top finance certifications for anyone who wants to manage high net worth clients. Learn more here.
- Financial Risk Manager (FRM®) Certification: The FRM® certification is designed for professionals pursuing careers as risk officers, risk analysts, and other positions in risk management. Learn more here.
- Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA) ® Certification: A new and increasingly popular option for corporate finance professionals is to obtain a financial modeling certification from an institute such as CFI. Course topics range from how to build a financial model to advanced valuation techniques and sensitivity analysis, all using practical applications in Excel. Learn more here.
For a helpful comparison of the CFA, CAIA, CFA, FRM and FVMA designations, including timing, cost, duration and focus, click here and scroll down towards the bottom of the page.
Please note the following:
- While working towards these credentials as an undergraduate student may give you an advantage over other candidates, it does not guarantee employment.
- You may wind up working for an employer that would be willing to pay for the exam and/or study materials, instead of paying out-of-pocket.
- In most cases, relevant full-time work experience is required to officially earn the certification / designation.
- Consult with your Career Coach and/or industry professionals before making any firm decisions.