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Tools & Resources

Checklist for Candidates

Here's a step-by-step checklist to help you along your path to achieving CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification. You'll also find resources from CFP Board that can support you along the way.

The CFP® certification process offers flexibility in how you accomplish the "4 E's" (Education, Experience, Exam and Ethics), so you can complete most of the steps listed here in the order that works best for you. However, many candidates begin the certification process by completing the required financial planning coursework. Start by creating an account today. 

  • Talk to Your Employer About Support

    Many employers will support you on your path to CFP® certification. Support comes in different forms, from covering costs for coursework and the exam to providing flexible schedules for studying. Speak with your training and development office to find out how your employer can help you become a CFP® professional.

  • Complete Your Coursework*
    Take the Exam while the knowledge is still fresh in your mind.
    78% of those surveyed who passed the exam said that they began preparing for the exam immediately (within 3 months) after completing the coursework.

    Complete the required coursework in major personal financial planning areas before taking the exam. Find your education program today.

  • Find a Mentor

    Mentors are available help support you on your path to certification. They’ve gone through the process and can provide guidance and perspective. Learn more about the Mentor Program.

  • Register for the Exam*

    Are you on track to complete your coursework soon? You can register for the exam before you complete the coursework requirement as long as you'll be done by the exam education verification deadline. Register for the next exam.

  • Take a Practice Exam

    CFP Board offers two full-length (170-question) Practice Exam, made up of retired exam questions that will give you a feel for exam day. Research shows taking a practice exam leads to greater success on the real exam.

  • Join the Candidate Forum

    Find tips, support and guidance while pursuing certification by using our Candidate Forum.

  • Validate Your Degree*

    Have your accredited college or university send an electronic transcript of your bachelor's degree (or higher) to .

  • Join the Career Center

    Looking for a financial planning position? CFP Board's Career Center can connect you with firms looking for individuals currently pursuing CFP® certification.

  • Enter Your Professional Experience*

    Demonstrate that you have the real-world skills to serve your clients’ best interests. There are 2 ways to meet the experience requirement: the 6,000-hour Standard Pathway or the 4,000-hour Apprenticeship pathway. Learn more and enter your professional experience to get started.

  • Fill Out Your Ethics Declaration*

    CFP® professionals must follow the high standards of ethics and practice outlined in CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct. Once you register for the exam, submit your Declaration and Agreement to get your background check started.

*Required for CFP® certification

Four Steps Guide to CFP® Certification

This is your step-by-step guide on obtaining CFP® certification by completing the “4 E’s” (Education, Examination, Experience, and Ethics).

Download the Guide

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