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Steps For Earning The CFP Designation

The following steps are required to earn the CFP ® designation:

1: Complete the Education Requirement

Before applying for the CFP ® Certification Examination, you need to complete the education requirement set by CFP Board. You can fulfill the education requirement through one of three paths:

  • Complete a CFP Board-Registered Education Program
    There are more than 285 academic programs at colleges and universities across the country from which to choose. These programs include credit and non-credit certificate programs, undergraduate and graduate degree programs. They use various delivery formats and schedules, including classroom instruction, self-study and online delivery. Many of CFP Board's Registered Programs also offer in-house educational programs for individual companies.

    We offer the following CFP Board Registered programs:

  • Apply for Challenge Status
    The degrees and professional credentials listed below fulfill the educational requirement and allow you to sit for the CFP ® Certification Examination, after you have completed an approved capstone course.

    Academic degrees and credentials that fulfill the educational requirements include:

  • Request a Transcript Review
    Certain industry credentials recognized by CFP Board, or the successful completion of upper-division level college courses, may satisfy some or all of the education requirements set by CFP Board. To satisfy the educational requirement you must complete a CFP Board approved capstone course prior to applying to the CFP Board for transcript review.

    *Note: Since 2012, all candidates must meet the capstone course requirement to obtain the CFP ® certification.

2: Pass the CFP ® Certification Examination

The CFP ® Certification Examination tests your ability to apply your financial planning knowledge to client situations. The exam is divided into two separate three-hour sessions. All 170 questions are multiple choice, including those questions related to case problems.

The computer based testing (CBT) exam is administered three times a year - Tuesday through Saturday in mid-March, mid-July, and mid-November at Prometric locations. The application deadline is approximately one month prior to each exam date. Application forms can be downloaded or you can call 800-487-1497 to have one mailed to you. Completed applications, including payment of the $595 fee, must be received by the deadlines printed on the applications - there are no exceptions.

We recommend the following review courses:

3: Meet the Experience Requirement

Within five years of passing the CFP ® exam, the candidate must have at least three years of qualifying full-time work experience or the equivalent 6,000 hours and a bachelor's degree or higher. Qualifying experience includes work that can be categorized into one of the six primary elements of the personal financial planning process. Experience can be gained in a number of ways including:

  • The delivery of all, or of any portion, of the personal financial planning process to a client
  • The direct support or supervision of individuals who deliver all, or any portion, of the personal financial planning process to a client
  • Teaching all, or any portion, of the personal financial planning process
  • Internships and/or Residency Programs

4: Adhere to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Pass A Background Check

After you have met the education, examination, and work experience requirements, you must disclose past or pending litigation or agency proceedings and agree to abide by CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Financial Planning Practice Standards. A background check ($100 fee) will also be conducted.

5: CFP Certification Fees And Renewal

Upon successfully completing the first three steps, fees will apply as follows:

  • An annual certification fee of $325
  • Completed certification application bi-annually
  • 30 hours of CFP Board approved CE every two years (including two hours of ethics)

6: Receive Authorization

Receive authorization to use the CFP ® and Certified Financial Planner marks.

Recommended Courses and Available Training Options

Choose from the recommended courses below or search under "Designations/Certifications" in the search box for "CFP - Certified Financial Planner"

Good luck earning your CFP ®!

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