Getting Your Certificate Online
Most financial analysts have a bachelor's degree in finance, business administration, accounting, economics, or statistics. This is highly recommended as a starting point if you are interested in pursuing a career as a financial analyst. Since most financial analysts already have a career before obtaining certification, online courses and exams are preferable to acccomodate their busy schedule.
Several organizations offer programs where individuals can achieve a certification online including the American Academy of Financial Management (AAFM). Their Financial Analyst Designate (FAD) requires seven years of industry experience and completion of an accredited degree in a related field. Candidates apply online, pay a $300 fee, and then take an annual examination that tests their skills as a financial analyst. The AAFM also offers certifications that relate to a financial analysts' career like Master Financial Manager, Certified Valuation Manager, and Chartered Portfolio Manager.
Another organization that offers online certifications for financial analysts is the CFA Institute, which offers certifications as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). This is a more time intensive certification than the certification offered by the AAFM, but it is offered to financial analysts with fewer years of experience. Requirements for this certification include a bachelor's degree in a related field or four years of experience in the industry. A series of tests and essays cover topics like economics, securities analysis, accounting, asset valuation, and portfolio analysis. Cost is considerably higher---between $1000 and $1500---but this certification is more highly regarded than the AAFM certification.