January 6, 2022
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December 22, 2021
January 12, 2022

Rather than straightaway choosing which may be a better qualification, it's important that you simply understand what career paths each qualification results in then decide which one may be a better fit you supported your career goals. If you plan to create a career within the financial domain of accounting, then CPA may be a better credential for you. On the opposite hand, if you're curious about portfolio management or finance, CFA suits you better. So, the acceptable answer is that the selection between the 2 completely depends on your career aspirations.

Now let's look at the key difference between CPA and CFA

Skills Obtained

As a CPA professional, you'll be required to perform many calculations because the role is going to be purely into accounting. Hence, the CPA course ensures that after the qualification, you become adept at crunching numbers. On the opposite hand, as a CFA charter holder, you'll develop critical thinking, analytical ability, advanced excel skills, excellent modeling skills, and acquire decision-making and communication skills.


From the day you clear one among the 4 parts of the CPA exams, you'll have another 18 months to clear the remaining 3 parts of the course. On the opposite hand, CFA takes a touch longer as you've got to clear 3 levels of examinations one after the opposite and mandatory 4 years of professional experience. Given that the work experience is often gained even while pursuing the CFA course, you'll complete the course during a span of 4 years.

Eligibility or Experience Required

If you would like to become a CPA-qualified professional, then you would like to possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or related professional credential alongside two years of labor experience in a relevant field. On the other hand, to become a CFA charter holder, you need a bachelor’s degree and four years of relevant work experience.


The syllabus for CPA primarily revolves around the four parts – regulation, audit & attestation, business environment & concepts, and financial accounting & reporting. Some of the main subjects covered in the course include economic concepts & analysis, financial statement accounts, entity & individual federal taxation, professional responsibilities ethics & general principles, corporate governance etc.

The CFA program syllabus is divided into three levels, wherein Level I covers topics on financial principles, Level II focuses on financial analysis & accounting, and Level III delves deeper into portfolio management. Some of the main subjects covered in the course include financial reporting & analysis, equity valuation, quantitative methods, corporate finance, economics, portfolio management, derivatives, fixed income, alternative investments, ethical & professional standards etc.

Career Opportunity and Salary

Both CPA and CFA offer bright career prospects for aspiring candidates. A CPA qualified professional usually finishes up during a forensic accountant, public accountant, securities analyst, consultant auditor etc. On the other hand, a CFA charter holder often works as a portfolio manager, research analyst, investment banking analyst, corporate financial analyst, consultant, financial advisor etc. In the US, CPA professionals’ salary varies within the range of $49,000 and $113,000, with a median salary of around $68,000. In contrast, CFA charter holders’ salary varies within the range of $56,000 and $120,000 with a median salary of $95,000.

Fees and Passing Rates

The cost of a CPA license and a CFA charter in terms of exam fees is sort of comparable. The overall cost (including exam and application fees) of CPA qualification stands at around $1,500. On the other hand, each level of the CFA exam’s cost lies in between $700 (early registration) to $1,000 (late registration). Further, you need to pay a one-time registration fee of $450, which means that the CFA program’s overall cost lies in the range of $2,550 and $3,450.

Based on the historical passing rates, it are often said that the CFA exams are far more difficult than the CPA exams. During 2020, the overall passing rate of the CPA exams was more than 50% given that all the four parts reported passing rates over 55%. During June 2019, the pass rates for CFA exams Level I, Level II, and Level III stood at 41%, 44%, and 56% respectively. Since a candidate has to clear each level one after the other, it can be approximated that only around ~10% (= 41% * 44% * 56%) of the candidates who started with Level I comes out successful after completing Level III.

Exam Availability

The upcoming CPA exams are going to be conducted as a part of the continual Testing model wherein the candidates are going to be allowed to write down the exams throughout the year. The schedule of the upcoming CFA exams for 2021 is as follows:

Level I Feb 16- Mar 1 May 18-24 Aug 24-30 Nov 16-22
Level II May 25- Jun 1 Aug 31- Sep 4
Level III May 25- Jun 1 Nov 23-25


The decision to require up either CPA or CFA credential depends on choosing the direction you would like to offer your career. In all, we could say that every one among them is exclusive and focused on areas of accounting and investments, respectively. Contact us for more assistance on making an informed choice for your career.


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