A person can earn a financial analysis certificate as part of a master’s degree program in financial analysis, or as a professional enhancement to a bachelor’s degree. Those seeking a financial analysis certification can choose between online courses to complete a certificate, or attending a regular financial university program. University programs often take nine months to complete, while online courses for a certificate can take more or less time.
There are often prerequisites to earning a financial analysis certificate. For many programs, a candidate must have a bachelor’s degree in finance or an accounting related subject. A candidate must often have one to three years’ work experience in finance before beginning a certificate program. Some programs will offer a basic financial analysis certification, while others will offer advanced certification, in which the candidate will specialize in a specific area of financial analysis. There are two main bodies that oversee most financial analysis certification programs. The CFA Institute oversees and recommends standards for university programs, while the American Academy of Financial Management does the same for many online programs. University programs are often standardized, but online certificate programs can vary widely in required coursework.
A program to earn a financial analysis certificate often includes coursework in managerial accounting and finance, as well as securities analysis, and mergers and acquisitions. Candidates will sometimes need to learn to solve financial problems using computer programming languages. Coursework will also instruct the certificate candidate to use spreadsheets to forecast earnings, cash flow and savings, so that this data can be used by prospective investors. Students must often learn to analyze the profitability of investments, liquidity structures and capital structure to debt ratios. A working knowledge of federal tax code as it relates to financial analysis is often required to earn a certificate. University programs will sometimes allow the student’s credits earned in a financial analysis certification program to count towards their master’s degree in finance.
A financial analysis certificate often demonstrates to prospective employers and clients that the holder has advanced knowledge of how global financial markets work, as well as knowledge in corporate finances and investments. Certification is often needed for a person to advance in his or her career, to a position of team leader or financial analyst manager within an institution. A financial analysis certificate can often help a person land a job in a finance department within a corporation or investment firm, or lend additional credibility to a financial consulting business.