FRM, CFA, CPA Which finance career is the best choice for you

High paying job but with long hours. 

Financially rewarding but equally demanding. 

Scope for growth but also scope for stress. 

The finance industry offers a fair share of pros and cons. While many students are drawn to it, quite a few are also weary of the many challenges within this field. The trick is to choose wisely. Many profiles and roles within the financial world may not be right for you. But you only need one perfect fit to launch a fulfilling and satisfying career. It helps if you are good with numbers, statistics and logic. You can pursue a certification that elevates your natural skills while teaching you a few new ones. 

Many students are confused about what to choose. Should they go for investment banking or accounting? CFA vs CPA? What is a better alternative?

If you are determined to join finance but undecided about your profession, we explore three popular options in this post:


These three certifications can open doors in the industry, but each one leads to a different room. Learn more about what these qualifications offer and how to benefit from them. 

How to pick a career in finance 

Are you good with accounts? Do you have an analytical mind? Good with technology? Possess exceptional communication skills?

You must be clear on where your interests, abilities, and passion lies. 

Different finance profiles call for various skill sets and personality types. 

Researching different certifications can help you make a calculated decision. Are you a future financial analyst? A budding risk manager? Or a potential accountant? What to pick – CFA vs CPA? Let’s find out. 

FRM vs CFA vs CPA – an overview

CFA — Chartered Financial Analyst

Why it’s a big deal:

It is a globally recognised and universally acclaimed certification for investment banking, portfolio management, equity research and corporate finance. Many consider it the gold standard in investment services, and by ‘many’, we mean the top investment companies in the world. At the last count, CFA has a presence in over 165 countries. Students get access to a wealth of opportunities and job profiles once they clear the course. 

About the syllabus:

The curriculum is divided into three levels. The same ten subjects are taught at each level but with increasing intensity. They include ethics and professional standards, economics, quantitative methods, derivatives and financial statement analysis. 

The course offers a practical and logical approach towards investment advisory services, teaching core finance concepts with real-world skills and applications. 

Also Read – Eligibility for CFA & when to start preparing for it (Updated)

Job prospects:

CFA Charter-holders can take on the following roles within the finance and investment industry:

  • Portfolio Manager
  • Fund Manager
  • Wealth Manager
  • Risk Analyst 
  • Investment Banker 
  • Research Analyst 
  • Investment Strategist 
  • Chief Investment Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer 

Salary expectations:

Your income will depend on your CFA level, job profile, company and location. However, here are the average salaries for most CFA-certified professionals. 

  • Annual starting salaries are between Rs 3 to Rs 10 lakhs. 
  • Established professionals can earn over Rs 25 lakhs a year.

Also Read – Top 5 trending CFA jobs in India

Did you know, 84% of our students recommend that you join us for your CFA Journey

CPA — Certified Public Accountant 

Why it’s a big deal: Established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the CPA program is a professional certification for accountants. The course teaches various accounting and financial techniques, such as taxation and auditing. CPA professionals are also taught GAAP principles of accounting. The US CPA program is quite revered in the industry and can give your resume platinum status when you are job hunting. 

About the syllabus: 

The CPA course is comparatively easier than CA, and you can clear the program in a year to 18 months. If you score over 75 per cent in the exams, then you will receive the CPA certification. 

The CPA contains four major subjects:

  • Auditing and Attestation
  • Regulation 
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Business Environment and Concepts 

Job prospects:

A CPA holder can work in different accounting profiles such as auditing, taxation, business management and consulting. Since CPA is a US-based qualification, many MNCs and American finance companies prefer to hire CPA-educated candidates. You can work for companies such as:

  • KPMG
  • Deloitte
  • PwC
  • Ernst & Young

Salary expectations: 

  • If you score a job with the top companies, such as the big 4, you roughly earn between Rs 5 lakhs and Rs 12 lakhs p.a.
  • Senor CPA professionals earn around Rs 28 lakhs a year.

Get the best CPA resources under one roof

FRM — Financial Risk Management 

Why it’s a big deal:

Financial risk managers get hired by investment and commercial banks, accounting firms, assets management companies and insurance agencies to offer risk assessment services. However, if you join financial risk management at the entry-level, there is not much responsibility or pressure. The middle or higher levels are the ones who can take big risks and make strategic decisions. It makes more sense for established professionals who want to make a big jump in their careers to do the FRM course.

About the syllabus: 

The FRM curriculum has two parts, with subjects such as risk management, valuation and risk models, financial markets and quantitative analysis. The FRM course teaches you how to look at financial conditions and analyse them for vulnerabilities. You also learn ways to avoid, lessen or minimise such risks.

Job prospects: 

An FRM certification can help you land a job as a:

  • Risk quantification manager
  • Market risk specialist
  • Credit risk specialist

Salary expectations: 

  • Salaries start at Rs 1.8 lakhs to Rs 3.5 lakhs a year.
  • Senior professionals earn over Rs 22 lakhs per annum.

Also Read – How to build a career in finance industry

Skills every finance professional should have:

  1. Knowledge of data analytics 

There’s no denying it. Data is the way forward. Finance professionals who understand and study data analytics can make better decisions and predictions in their field.

  1. Accounting skills 

You need to know accounting languages such as IFRS, IndAS or GAAP if you want to work for a big international company, small local businesses or even a start-up.

  1. Analytical skills 

How well do you read numbers? Understand data? Uncover facts from statistics? A sharp, analytical mind that can create order from complex financial situations is a must-have in this industry. 

  1. Digital expertise 

Gone are the days when bookkeeping required actual books. Today, a competent finance professional will know how to use digital software, financial modelling, AI apps, Fintech and other technologies. Technical prowess has become the norm for most finance job postings, so ensure your skills are up-to-date. 

  1. Communication skills

Finance professionals work in a team, report to department heads and build relationships with clients. None of the above is possible if you don’t possess good communication abilities. 

About Proschool’s CFA course 

If you’ve decided to pursue investment banking, equity research or corporate finance, the CFA is the best qualification to help you start your career. Proschool is one of India’s best coaching institutes and can help you clear the CFA exams successfully. The syllabus is taught by leading experts in the industry who use active learning methods and real-world training to catapult students from novice status to proficient. 

There are many reasons to study CFA with Proschool, such as: 

  • You can do the course at a coaching centre or through online classes.
  • The teachers give students personalised attention and practical training. 
  • Many additional learning resources are available such as mock tests, practice papers, online videos and prep books.
  • Proschool also offers other essential finance courses such as IFRS and financial modelling. 
  • After completing the course, you can apply for jobs through Proschool’s placement program.


When it comes to CFA vs CPA, what has better scope in India?

Since both courses have their merits, there is no absolute winner in the CFA vs CPA debate. However, a CFA certification could be slightly more beneficial to those who want to apply for hardcore finance jobs as opposed to accounting roles. CFA also opens up many opportunities and can lead to a better income. 

Is there a lot of pressure when working in FRM?

When dealing with financial risk, there is a lot of stress at the higher levels of management.

Entry-level jobs and newcomers won’t have to deal with tough decisions or strategic planning right away. They will be eased into the whole process slowly. Only once you have proven yourself, then you are in a position to make high-risk decisions.

CFA vs CPA — which is harder to clear? 

While both exams require considerable effort and hard work to pass, the CFA is considered tougher than CPA. Most students who clear CFA successfully have a well-thought-out learning strategy which includes studying with a reputed coaching school and a dedicated study plan. 

In conclusion 

As a commerce or finance student, the choices you make today will impact your career in the future. So take the time to think over what you are truly capable of. Measure your strengths and weaknesses objectively and do the research on FRM vs CFA vs CPA, before you sign up for a course. Remember, opportunities are available in all sectors of the finance industry, once you figure out where you fit best. 

Find out more about the CFA certification here