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The Experience Requirement

The Paths to Experience

There are 2 pathways for candidates to fulfill the experience requirement for CFP® certification: the 6,000-Hour Standard Pathway or the 4,000-Hour Apprenticeship Pathway.

WHAT QUALIFIES AS EXPERIENCE?

Because CFP® certification indicates to the public your ability to provide financial planning without supervision, CFP Board requires you to have experience in the personal financial planning process.

Qualifying experience includes activities involving the delivery of financial planning services to individual clients. Whether you engage with clients directly, supervise or support the financial planning process, teach financial planning-related courses or participate in internships or the FPA Residency Program, there are many ways to complete the experience requirement.

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.

Report experience activities and responsibilities that reflect your financial planning knowledge and competencies in your account today!

Report Your Experience Today


WHAT PATHWAY MAKES SENSE FOR MY EXPERIENCE?

6,000-HOUR STANDARD PATHWAY

On our Standard Pathway, qualifying activities or responsibilities must satisfy a two-part requirement.

Part 1: Your experience must fall within one or more of the 7 primary elements of the personal financial planning process:

  • Understanding the Client’s Personal and Financial Circumstances
  • Identifying and Selecting Goals
  • Analyzing the Client’s Current Course of Action and Potential Alternative Course(s) of Action
  • Developing the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Presenting the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Monitoring Progress and Updating

Part 2: Your experience can be satisfied through one or more of the following 5 ways:

  • Personally engaging with individual clients.
  • Supporting the financial planner and/or financial planning process (directly or indirectly).
  • Supervising financial planners and/or the financial planning process (and may also have direct client interaction.
  • Completing an internship or the Financial Planning Association (FPA) residency program.
  • Teaching college-level courses in financial planning concepts.

4,000-HOUR APPRENTICESHIP PATHWAY

On our Apprenticeship Pathway, qualifying activities and responsibilities must satisfy a 3-part requirement.

Part 1: Your job activities must include experience in all 7 primary elements of the personal financial planning process:

  • Understanding the Client’s Personal and Financial Circumstances
  • Identifying and Selecting Goals
  • Analyzing the Client’s Current Course of Action and Potential Alternative Course(s) of Action
  • Developing the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Presenting the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Monitoring Progress and Updating

Part 2: Your experience must be delivered by personally engaging with individual clients.

Part 3: Your experience must be completed under the direct supervision of a CFP® professional, with verification and attestation from the supervising CFP® professional conducted by CFP Board.


WHAT IS MY TIMELINE TO COMPLETE EXPERIENCE?

Experience must be completed within 10 years before and/or 5 years after successful completion of the CFP® exam. If a start date for an experience entry falls outside of the 10-year lookback window, you will need to add additional experience within the appropriate timeline.

If you have made progress with completing your experience but you need more time past your 5-year deadline, you have the option to submit a Policy Exception Request Form for an extension of up to 3 years. Your Policy Exception must be received at least 60 days in advance of your 5-year deadline, and you must enter all qualifying experience earned to date in your online Experience Profile. You should allow 7-10 business days for a response to your request.

Download the Policy Exception form


details on reporting experience

Learn more about reporting your experience hours to fulfill the experience requirement for CFP® certification. We provide information on the process, including helpful details, tips and definitions. 

More Details on Reporting your Experience


WORKING ON EXPERIENCE 1 YEAR AFTER PASSING THE EXAM

If your experience requirement is not completed within 12 months of successful completion of the CFP® exam, you will be required to complete continuing education (CE) before certification.

In these cases, CE will accrue at a rate of 1.25 hours per month until both your experience and degree requirements are completed. Any accrued CE must be completed before becoming certified.

MORE ON CE PRIOR TO COMPLETING CERTIFICATION

Frequently Asked Questions

Experience can be entered at any time through your Experience Reporting Profile available in your online CFP Board account by clicking on the Experience section of the CFP® Certification Tracker. You can continue adding experience until you have reached the required number of hours to satisfy the Standard or Apprenticeship pathway.

If you do not complete the experience and/or bachelor’s degree certification requirements within five years of passing the exam, you will be required to retake the current CFP® exam to continue your candidacy for certification. However, you can request a one-time, three-year extension, granted on a case-by-case basis, by emailing the Experience department at experience@cfpboard.org.

Hours are calculated at a one-to-one ratio based on the qualifying number of hours worked per week.

No. Concurrent part- and full-time financial planning employment will not accelerate completion of the requirement, as credit is not granted in excess of 40 hours per week. An exception to this is the completion of the FPA Residency Program, which upon verification, will add 500 hours to your experience total.

No. Additional credit for full-time employment will not be granted for hours in excess of 40 hours per week. An exception to this is the completion of the FPA Residency Program, which upon verification, will add 500 hours to your experience total.

Portions of a job may be credited towards this requirement on an hourly basis just like part-time employment. As an example, the majority of your job (30 hours per week) is spent working as a home office representative processing paperwork. However, ten hours a week are spent consulting with individual clients. The ten hours a week can be accrued and credited towards the Experience requirement.

Yes. Candidates can sit for the CFP® exam before meeting the experience requirement. Candidates have up to five years after successful completion of the exam to complete the Experience requirement.

Qualifying experience may be earned through many different types of practices and firms. Candidates for CFP® certification often choose to establish a private practice, either by themselves or in conjunction with other planners. Some planners work for banks, credit unions, insurance companies, accounting or law firms, credit counseling organizations and brokerage firms. Other individuals earn experience through part-time positions, while they continue their current career and/or perform volunteer work. Or, they may choose a career in academia, teaching personal financial planning in a university setting. Some individuals acquire experience through a combination of these types of activities.

Yes. As long as the Experience Standards are met, international experience can qualify.

No. Work with corporate clients is not qualifying experience. CFP Board defines a "client" as an individual or person who engages a practitioner and for whom professional financial services are rendered.

No. Clients may not be immediate family members, as defined by FINRA Rule 3240.

Yes. As long as Experience Standards are met, this experience can qualify. The name and contact information of a “Qualified Attester” will be added to your experience submission in lieu of a supervisor. To be a “Qualified Attester” the individual must hold one of the following certifications or licenses:

  • 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.

Activities and responsibilities reflecting personal financial planning knowledge and competencies that indirectly support the financial planner and/or the financial planning process may count as experience credit for “Indirect Support.” Indirect Support includes those positions that are firmly rooted in the financial planning process.

Standard vs. apprenticeship pathways

Pick the Path That's Right for You

Get a detailed look at each of the pathways to experience. Download our infographic comparing the Standard and Apprenticeship pathways.

Download the Infographic

Are you ready to report your experience?

We encourage you to report your experience and monitor your status. Log in to your CFP Board account and use the experience reporting feature.

Report Your Experience Today

Start your journey to CFP® Certification

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