Career Change Realistic?

Howdy folks, Great forum. I’ve seen numerous posts asking about CFA and career changes, but not quite applicable to my situation. I thought I’d see what you folks think. I’m 30 years old with a B.S. in Textile Chemistry. I’ve been working in the textile industry for a little over 8 years now. I started in dye house supervision on 3rd shift and have worked my way up to Dyehouse Department Manager and Plant Chemist. (5 promotions). I make around $50k which is fine. But recently, my plant was sold, everyone got a 10% pay cut, we have zero paid holidays, our 401k plan was dropped, our health insurance rates went up by about 20% while the coverage went in the toilet. When I started with this company 7 years ago it had 12 plants and around 15000 employees. The plant I work at had around 700 employees. The company now has 3 plants and about 3500 employees. My plant is now a separate private company with about 90 employees. Layoffs like this in the south east US are very common in textiles. Because I have a degree already I am not eligible for TAA benefits. (A retraining program where the government pays your tuition and extended unemployment benefits.) Anyway, I have always had a strong interest in finance. The CFA path looks like a cost-effective way for me to change careers, without having to spend the kind of money and class-room time that I would for an MBA. The big questions: Can I realistically get a job (assuming I pass Level I in December 2008) with a resume that will have nothing else related to finance? I would love to move into finance, possibly as an analyst. I am married, with a mortgage, and children on the horizon, so I need to maintain something close to my current salary. I would like to get a position after Level I so I can begin to get the work experience requirements met while studying for Levels II and III. I apologize for the novel and thank you in advance for your thoughts.

Small answer to your big question: no, almost surely.

with all 3 levels… …associate at best, that is assuming, you have had strong credentials in everything you have done to date, and some lead analyst needs someone who understands the industry better. Good new is, if you get one of these the salary (even as a associate) should be more than double what you currently make.

You might, but you will probably have to network your way to the position and cannot rely on filling in your resume data on some recruiter’s search engine, where your CV will most likely bounce off due to the search criteria the recruiter is using while drilling the database. With luck you’ll be the one available at a time when some financial firm needs to find someone to quickly fill in a position at an urgency. That’ll be your chance. Now you only have to find out whom to know in order to be alerted when that happens…

Write up research reports on all the relevant public companies in the textile industry recommending buys and sells and why. Send them out to people as samples of you work. Network. Definitely do CFA level I and make sure people know you did it if/when you pass. You may still need to go the MBA route, however. And, of course, networking is pretty key.