CFA for a Mechanical Engineer with no work experience in Finance

Hallo Friends. I would like to work in the near future in corporate finance and hence I am thinking about the CFA exams. I have experience only in the field of engineering for the past 6 years and I feel that studying more about finance will be good to enhance my career. Although CFA charter is a long road ahead I would like to know if I can break into corporate finance with Level 1 and 2 exams with an engineering company. Has anyone chosen a similar kind of road? If yes, I will be more than happy to hear your opinions. Thank you!

I think an MBA would be more useful for breaking into a new industry. The CFA is a useful career enhancer for people in asset management. Also, you won’t be able to apply for the charter until you have the requisite work experience anyway.

Thank you for your opinion Minerva. I thought about an MBA but it would be too expensive and would mean taking a sabbatical for a year atleast which I think would not be a feasible option especially when I have already completed my Masters in Mechanical. I would not prefer a distance MBA. Also, I am going for a project management certification in a years time and would like to complement it with some knowledge in finance. Can studying for CFA give me more insights on corporate finance, mergers and corporate investments? I know that the charter is a long way away and I cannot use the CFA designation till then but, does completing Level 1 and Level 2 initially give me an opportunity to show my know how to the probable employers?

As CFA is primarily geared toward asset management, potential employers might think you’re just planing to use them as a stopping point until you get a job as an equity analyst. Do you have the option of applying some of your past credits toward a BS in finance and taking some finance and accounting classes at night?

I still think an MBA would help you reach your goal in a more direct way. I know it’s expensive, but business schools have a structured recruiting process in place and a lot of companies recruit their new associate class almost exclusively from business schools. Do you want to work at a bank? If so, it’s almost impossible to break in without an MBA from a top school. It’s a silly system and it leaves out a lot of very good candidates, but it’s a structure that has been in place for a long time. I think your best chance for a lateral move to financial services without an MBA is a position in risk management.

Viel Glueck! Halte uns auf dem Laufenden-

Agree with the above. The sad truth is you cannot break in to finance using a CFA designation only (corp finance, trading, I banking). Masters in fin (cheaper than an MBA) is an option if you don’t want to shell out the fees for an MBA. Other possibility is you have a solid connection/network that can get your foot into the door. From personal experience, I have found it hard to switch to a different function within finance even though I work as a trader currently. Most big firms/banks have a structured recruiting processes from undergrad/Mba and hire laterally only if you have relevant work ex

@higgmond: I do not think I can use any of my previous credits to study finance as my Masters was in a core technical field of engineering and I do not think I want to do another Bachelors degree. Thank you for suggesting the route though.

@Minerva and aakash30: Thanks Aakash30. Danke Minerva :slight_smile: Eigentlich ĂĽberlege ich mich ein anderen Weg zu meinem Ziel. Your opinion tends towards MBA but a MBA is not so popular (still) in Germany for employers as they prefer traditional Master Programs. Doing a traditional Master of Finance would be a cheaper option than MBA but again for both I will have to take a sabbatical as I personally do not believe in part time degree studies. Even lets say I enroll for part time MBA or Masters it will also take atleast 2-3 years to complete with loss of all the evening time after work.

After some analysis, I feel CFA is the best way to gain maximum knowledge in finance as the structure is very intensive and covers all the aspects of finance but on the other hand I feel it is too long (Respect to all charterholders and to all the people pursuing CFA). Hence, I am thinking now to go for a lesser renowned CMA certification which gives me a perfect blend of finance and accounting. This I think will help me more as an engineer to stay in my present sector and put my foot into corporate finance.

Let me also know your opinion about this. Thanks!

Funny. I was just thinking the other day how cool it would be to have the knowledge base of a mechinal engineer…

As someone who has switched career paths, all I can say is networking is everything.

If I could offer one bit of advice, please ask yourself why you are doing this. Are you that dissatisfied with your current profession that you would be willing to give up 3+ of your life to potentially switch career paths? Is engineering that mundane to you? Does it not pay enough?

What is so interesting to you about finance? What sector specifically? Is it making money? You can make money without a CFA. Remember, it is just a title. It has clout. It shows dedication and intelligence(I do not have the charter). It also shows sacrifice. If you have a wife/significant other, please have a conversation with them about the sacrifices involved before cracking the first page of the Schweser book. The beautiful blonde on the front cover is smiling at you because she knows that the next 3+ years of your life will go by in a blur and there will be immense amounts of stress involved.


As someone who has kids, studying every night absolutely fucking sucks. I am too far into it to quit. The pursuit of the charter has improved my career prospects ten fold, but it does not for everyone.

Also, if you get through L1, good for you. In no way shape or form does it give you a golden ticket to a private club full of executives in nice suits waiting to shake your hand and give you a $100k job.

Also, if you are making 100k plus, I beg you not to pursue the charter. It’s just not worth it.

i work with a lot of engineers, they are smart people in general. i dont think you will have a hard time picking up finance. id prob start at at entry level job and see how that goes, if you kill it you will move up fast and wont need the cfa.

If the CFA takes too long for you, and you have an engineering background and wants to break in to finance, I would suggest the CQF. Perhaps in combination with the FRM.



forget about the CFA, do an MBA. It’s expensive, but that does not mean anything. Work out a NPV model in excel, and use realistic and honest assumptions that apply to your situation.

Good luck

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The thread starter clearly indicated the doing an MBA was not suitable for him. Agreen, an MBA would be great but given his situation, not applicable.

Why do people take those PMP exams? What is Project Management … rocket science? Its not that hard. An MBA or something like a masters degree in financial engineering (which you might like) is really going to be the only thing to propel you into finance at this stage in your career. Just get into a top 10 school, take 2 years off, the bank will cut you a loan with your acceptance letter, and make the jump to finance. The cost of switching career paths is great, but the cost of waiting until later in your career makes it even harder.

If you cant go top 10 school, find a good regional MBA program that has roots in that area. You can get a regional type of finance role if you fight it out with the other hundreds of applicants. Just to let you know (which i’m sure you already know) … getting even interviews in this environment for someone with no prior experience is an arduous task. ME is pretty cool. You don’t like the field anymore?

As I was away there has been a lot written in past few days on this thread smiley Appreciate all your responses. Although I think only a few people really understood the gist of my query that I mentioned at the starting point of this thread. Let me make it clear once again.

I love my present field of engineering and I feel it is as challenging as finance if not more. But there comes a point in some peoples life that they want to learn more as to how a corporate structure works from within and I believe getting into finance is the best way to understand that. This point in life has reached me and hence I am exploring avenues to get there. Most of you have suggested MBA to be the most obvious choice and I agree too that MBA would be better but, as I said in one of my previous threads above I am not willing to take a sabbatical. The most important point I made was that I want to work in the field of corporate finance and strategy and I want to do that by staying in my present sector of engineering and manufacturing. At the end of the day even engineering companies need finance professionals and thinking from a finance professional point of view would you not like an engineer who knows a little about finance and who has worked on the ground and knows a little bit about engineering as well. Wouldn’t that help in a team? Sorry, if this sounds like bragging but I am just thinking.

@hpe: Thanks for your suggestion. I will take a look at the CQF and FRM subjects and see if they are relevant to what I want to do.

@Analti_Calte_Equity: Project management maybe not as difficult as finance but still it teaches you a structured method which helps one to work more efficiently in a project team. I also agree with your sentence 'The cost of switching career paths is great, but the cost of waiting until later in your career makes it even harder ’

Your best course of action is painfully obvious.


from personal experience, it does not worth it.,With your background it would be very hard to switch even with all the fancy accronyms.

save your time and effort for something with greater prospects, sometimes the value of adding education have diminishing returns.

Yes it would help if you had engineering experience for a financial analyst role in that industry. If your firm is big enough, maybe you should consider switching to FP&A as a start. You’re going to have to start at the bottom — it might even be a pay cut for an entry level position.

Ok, with the added information in your last post, he’re my renewed suggestions.

CQF and/or FRM is more if you want to move away from your current position and in to Investment Banking, Fund Management or something similar.

If you want to stay in engineering and tack on financial knowledge to widen your options within such an organisation, an MBA is indeed the best route.

However, there are a few things to consider. The expense can be quite high, espcially the EMBA or if you factor in lost income during a full time program. In the end the “cost” for a one year program is around 200k USD. If you don’t need the fancy title to swing around, as in an MBA from a top 10 school, I would go for either Bradford University or Open University. Both are tripple accerdited schools, you can study part time and the cost is around 20k to 30k USD. Bradford University is cheaper and ranks a bit higher but at the Open University you get certificates mid way that might be useful even before the complete MBA is finished.

That said, with an engineering background, your maths should be strong. So if you do want to leave engineering and come over to finacial engineering, CQF should be your choise. And before people start sceaming about that, yes, if you still need to do your masters or if you can study a fulltime a year or two, a Masters in Financial Engineering might be better, but not for everyone.

Good luck in your efforts

You could reach out to recruiters in your area who specialize in finance/engineering and ask their thoughts. You could also consider reaching out to a local CFA society. They often post jobs and might be able to share some insight with you, although I would think many of the positions listed would be more in the investment arena.