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Frequently Asked Questions About CFP® Certification

CFP Board is here to guide you through CFP® certification and make sure you have answers to your questions.

Education

Your first step in pursuing CFP® certification is to complete education coursework at a CFP Board Registered Program. You can search for available programs using our "Find an Education Program" search tool.

You can determine if previously taken courses can be credited towards the education requirement through a CFP Board Transcript Review.

The bachelor's degree requirement is a condition of initial certification (it is not a requirement to be eligible to take the CFP® exam). There are no exceptions.

International degrees may be substituted for a U.S. undergraduate degree if they receive bachelor’s degree equivalency from a third-party evaluation agency that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You should request a document-by-document evaluation.

Examination

There are two steps to complete for your registration. The first is to submit your exam application through your CFP Board online account. The second is to schedule your test date, time and location in the exam window through Prometric.

Yes. You can register for the CFP® exam prior to completing your coursework. However, you must make sure that CFP Board receives verification of your coursework completion by the Education Verification Deadline for that exam cycle.

You may postpone an exam only once per registration. The postponement fee is $100. Your next exam appointment must be rescheduled by the next 2 exam testing windows.

If you decide not to pursue the exam after registering and wish to withdraw your application completely, you are eligible to receive a $200 refund.

Read more about our postponement, rescheduling and withdrawal policies.

You may reschedule your exam date, test site location and, in some cases, test start time, within the testing window when you are scheduled. There is no charge for scheduling changes made 30 days or more in advance of exam day. Changes made 5-29 days in advance of exam day will incur a $100 scheduling change fee with Prometric. No changes to your exam are permitted less than 5 days in advance of your scheduled appointment. Exam fees are also forfeited for no-shows.
You may attempt the CFP® exam a lifetime maximum of 5 times. (If you attempted the exam 4 or more times prior to January 1, 2012, you will be permitted a maximum of 2 additional attempts.) Also, you may attempt the exam a maximum of 3 times within a 24-month period. If you attempt the exam on 3 successive administrations, a 1-year sit-out period (3 exam cycles) is required before you can register for another attempt.
Read more about what to expect on exam day, including what to bring to the exam, how to mark questions, what formulas we provide, our calculator policy and more.
You will receive a preliminary pass/fail report after you complete the exam at your testing site. If you are unsuccessful, your report will include a diagnostic indicative of your strengths and weaknesses across the Principal Topics.

Official exam results are released approximately 4 weeks after the close of the exam window.
Experience

At any time! We encourage you to report early (and refresh often, if needed) in your experience reporting profile.

Hours are calculated at a 1-to-1 ratio based on the qualifying number of hours worked per week, up to 40 hours total per week. An exception to this is the completion of the FPA Residency Program, which upon verification will add 500 hours to your Standard Pathway experience total.

Yes, you can sit for the CFP® exam before meeting the experience requirement. You will have up to 5 years after successful completion of the exam to complete your required hours. Learn more about the pathways to experience.

Activities that do not relate to the personal financial planning process for clients (such as time spent in corporate finance, training, practice management, marketing, software development or administrative duties) cannot be included in your reported number of experience hours.

Additionally, clients may not be immediate family members, as defined by FINRA Rule 3240.

You will report this type of experience the same way that you would any other experience, with the exception being the supervisor requirement. In lieu of having a supervisor, you will need to provide the contact information for a Qualified Attester, who must hold one of the credentials below:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®)
  • Ph.D. in business or economics*
  • Licensed attorney – (inactive license acceptable)
  • Licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – (inactive license acceptable)

*Degree must be from an accredited U.S. college or university.

Pre-Certification Continuing Education

Your pre-certification CE accrual begins 13 months after passing the exam and continues until both the Experience and bachelor’s degree requirements have been fulfilled. If these requirements are done within a year of passing, you will not need to complete CE to become certified.

You can find all approved CE courses using our "Find a CE Program" search tool.

No, you do not need to complete an Ethics CE course. The Ethics requirement to become certified includes agreeing to adhere to our Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, signing an Ethics Declaration and Agreement, and CFP Board conducting a background check.

Any accrued credits must be completed within 6 months of completing your Experience and degree requirements.

While you are working to complete your Experience and/or degree, pre-certification CE credit hours do not need to be completed within the year they have been accrued. Any CE credit hours you complete in excess of your requirement at that point in time, will be stored in your account and carried over to any additional hours you accrue before becoming certified. CE credit hours earned to meet the pre-certification CE requirement cannot be carried forward to meet the CE renewal requirements for CFP® certification.

The CE provider will report your attendance and course completion to CFP Board. We recommend that you provide that CE provider with your CFP Board ID number for this purpose.

If the course you are reporting is not pre-approved with CFP Board, you can still receive credit through a non-registered course review, which does incur a fee.

You can view your CE summary using your CFP Board Account Dashboard once the requirement becomes active at that 13th month after passing the exam (if you are still working on your experience and/or degree requirements). To do this, log in and click on the Education tab in your account, then scroll down to the Continuing Education section.

Ethics

You will have access at any time to fill out the Declaration and Agreement in your CFP Board online account.

We recommend you read over our Fitness Standards to review unacceptable conduct and conduct deemed a presumptive bar.

Final Steps

You can make your payment in your online account once all other requirements are completed: Education, Examination, Experience, CE (if applicable) and Ethics.

Read more about how your payment is calculated.

You will receive an email once you make your payment confirming you are certified. Per this email, you can start using the CFP® marks. By the next day, you will receive access to your digital certificate and about 2-3 weeks later you will receive your hard copy certificate. Once your payment is processed, your Account Dashboard will also convert to the CFP® professional version, granting you access to the CFP® professional features.

Additional Questions about Certification

We recommend joining our online community, the Candidate Forum, to connect with other candidates on what they are doing to prepare for the exam. There are many discussions around review course providers.

We also recommend checking out our exam preparation page, which provides information on testing strategies and the CFP Board Practice Exam.

Yes! We provide free access to our Career Center, which has many financial planning job postings. Use your CFP Board account information to log in, post your resume and search for openings.

Yes! We offer a free Mentor program where we can connect you with volunteer CFP® professionals to assist you on your path to certification. Create your mentee profile today.

Categories
Education
Education

Your first step in pursuing CFP® certification is to complete education coursework at a CFP Board Registered Program. You can search for available programs using our "Find an Education Program" search tool.

You can determine if previously taken courses can be credited towards the education requirement through a CFP Board Transcript Review.

The bachelor's degree requirement is a condition of initial certification (it is not a requirement to be eligible to take the CFP® exam). There are no exceptions.

International degrees may be substituted for a U.S. undergraduate degree if they receive bachelor’s degree equivalency from a third-party evaluation agency that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You should request a document-by-document evaluation.

Examination
Examination

There are two steps to complete for your registration. The first is to submit your exam application through your CFP Board online account. The second is to schedule your test date, time and location in the exam window through Prometric.

Yes. You can register for the CFP® exam prior to completing your coursework. However, you must make sure that CFP Board receives verification of your coursework completion by the Education Verification Deadline for that exam cycle.

You may postpone an exam only once per registration. The postponement fee is $100. Your next exam appointment must be rescheduled by the next 2 exam testing windows.

If you decide not to pursue the exam after registering and wish to withdraw your application completely, you are eligible to receive a $200 refund.

Read more about our postponement, rescheduling and withdrawal policies.

You may reschedule your exam date, test site location and, in some cases, test start time, within the testing window when you are scheduled. There is no charge for scheduling changes made 30 days or more in advance of exam day. Changes made 5-29 days in advance of exam day will incur a $100 scheduling change fee with Prometric. No changes to your exam are permitted less than 5 days in advance of your scheduled appointment. Exam fees are also forfeited for no-shows.
You may attempt the CFP® exam a lifetime maximum of 5 times. (If you attempted the exam 4 or more times prior to January 1, 2012, you will be permitted a maximum of 2 additional attempts.) Also, you may attempt the exam a maximum of 3 times within a 24-month period. If you attempt the exam on 3 successive administrations, a 1-year sit-out period (3 exam cycles) is required before you can register for another attempt.
Read more about what to expect on exam day, including what to bring to the exam, how to mark questions, what formulas we provide, our calculator policy and more.
You will receive a preliminary pass/fail report after you complete the exam at your testing site. If you are unsuccessful, your report will include a diagnostic indicative of your strengths and weaknesses across the Principal Topics.

Official exam results are released approximately 4 weeks after the close of the exam window.
Experience
Experience

At any time! We encourage you to report early (and refresh often, if needed) in your experience reporting profile.

Hours are calculated at a 1-to-1 ratio based on the qualifying number of hours worked per week, up to 40 hours total per week. An exception to this is the completion of the FPA Residency Program, which upon verification will add 500 hours to your Standard Pathway experience total.

Yes, you can sit for the CFP® exam before meeting the experience requirement. You will have up to 5 years after successful completion of the exam to complete your required hours. Learn more about the pathways to experience.

Activities that do not relate to the personal financial planning process for clients (such as time spent in corporate finance, training, practice management, marketing, software development or administrative duties) cannot be included in your reported number of experience hours.

Additionally, clients may not be immediate family members, as defined by FINRA Rule 3240.

You will report this type of experience the same way that you would any other experience, with the exception being the supervisor requirement. In lieu of having a supervisor, you will need to provide the contact information for a Qualified Attester, who must hold one of the credentials below:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®)
  • Ph.D. in business or economics*
  • Licensed attorney – (inactive license acceptable)
  • Licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – (inactive license acceptable)

*Degree must be from an accredited U.S. college or university.

Pre-Certification Continuing Education
Pre-Certification Continuing Education

Your pre-certification CE accrual begins 13 months after passing the exam and continues until both the Experience and bachelor’s degree requirements have been fulfilled. If these requirements are done within a year of passing, you will not need to complete CE to become certified.

You can find all approved CE courses using our "Find a CE Program" search tool.

No, you do not need to complete an Ethics CE course. The Ethics requirement to become certified includes agreeing to adhere to our Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, signing an Ethics Declaration and Agreement, and CFP Board conducting a background check.

Any accrued credits must be completed within 6 months of completing your Experience and degree requirements.

While you are working to complete your Experience and/or degree, pre-certification CE credit hours do not need to be completed within the year they have been accrued. Any CE credit hours you complete in excess of your requirement at that point in time, will be stored in your account and carried over to any additional hours you accrue before becoming certified. CE credit hours earned to meet the pre-certification CE requirement cannot be carried forward to meet the CE renewal requirements for CFP® certification.

The CE provider will report your attendance and course completion to CFP Board. We recommend that you provide that CE provider with your CFP Board ID number for this purpose.

If the course you are reporting is not pre-approved with CFP Board, you can still receive credit through a non-registered course review, which does incur a fee.

You can view your CE summary using your CFP Board Account Dashboard once the requirement becomes active at that 13th month after passing the exam (if you are still working on your experience and/or degree requirements). To do this, log in and click on the Education tab in your account, then scroll down to the Continuing Education section.

Ethics
Ethics

You will have access at any time to fill out the Declaration and Agreement in your CFP Board online account.

We recommend you read over our Fitness Standards to review unacceptable conduct and conduct deemed a presumptive bar.

Final Steps
Final Steps

You can make your payment in your online account once all other requirements are completed: Education, Examination, Experience, CE (if applicable) and Ethics.

Read more about how your payment is calculated.

You will receive an email once you make your payment confirming you are certified. Per this email, you can start using the CFP® marks. By the next day, you will receive access to your digital certificate and about 2-3 weeks later you will receive your hard copy certificate. Once your payment is processed, your Account Dashboard will also convert to the CFP® professional version, granting you access to the CFP® professional features.

Additional Questions about Certification
Additional Questions about Certification

We recommend joining our online community, the Candidate Forum, to connect with other candidates on what they are doing to prepare for the exam. There are many discussions around review course providers.

We also recommend checking out our exam preparation page, which provides information on testing strategies and the CFP Board Practice Exam.

Yes! We provide free access to our Career Center, which has many financial planning job postings. Use your CFP Board account information to log in, post your resume and search for openings.

Yes! We offer a free Mentor program where we can connect you with volunteer CFP® professionals to assist you on your path to certification. Create your mentee profile today.

Start your journey to CFP® Certification

  • Track your progress with the CFP® Certification Tracker
  • Post your resume at the Career Center
  • Connect with a mentor who can guide you
  • Register and prepare for the exam
  • Find career and financial support
  • Connect with other candidates at our online forum