Which course is better for your career? – CPA vs. FRM

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Which course is better for your career? – CPA vs. FRM


Many college students find a career in finance to be highly interesting and exciting. For example, aspiring students with a specific interest in mathematics and statistics might pursue a career in finance because it is anticipated to suit their skill set. There are many alternatives for finance profiles, but a few of the most sought-after careers for someone choosing finance include investment banking, fund management, and risk analysis. 

The applicant can shape his career for a specific finance function with the help of both courses. This article will cover all you need to know about CPA vs. FRM and which course is best for your career.

There are several sorts of finance profiles, and each one demands a certain set of capabilities, including accounting, analytical, and good communication abilities. Through effective mentorship and an appropriate certification course, one can gain the required assistance to attain the ideal blend of skill sets. There are several certification programs for finance to prepare a candidate for the appropriate profiles. Among the most well-known financial certifications are-

  • Financial risk manager (FRM)
  • US Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Differences – CPA vs. FRM

In the business domain, certifications such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Financial Risk Manager (FRM) allow people to serve as certified professionals. Nonetheless, the main distinction between the two in the aspect of CPA vs. FRM is that while the former is an accounting certificate, the latter is a financial risk management one. A US CPA’s primary role as a professional is to study a company’s financial record, gather important insights, and provide suitable financial recommendations. An FRM, on the other hand, is in charge of predicting, analyzing, and mitigating key business risks. Both of these professions are financial analysts.

Before comparing the CPA vs. FRM in detail, let’s take a closer look at each professional certification, including what it is, how to earn it, and the prerequisites for each.

What is a CPA?

A US Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional certification granted to professional accountants who have cleared the 4-part comprehensive examination. Every US state’s Board of Accountancy is responsible for issuing CPA licenses. Resources for acquiring the license are offered & the US CPA administration is handled by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The US CPA certification assists in upholding professional standards in the accounting sector.

License Requirements

A CPA Certificate and a CPA license are not the same things. Obtaining a CPA certificate does not allow you to practice. However, after passing the US CPA Exam and fulfilling all state-specific criteria, you will be awarded a CPA license, allowing you to practice as a CPA. To earn the coveted CPA license, you must meet the following criteria: 

US-based Candidates

For licensing, all state boards (apart from those in the US Virgin Islands) need at least 150 semester hours of coursework at a recognized university or college.

  • 30 semester hours of accounting coursework
  • 24 semester hours in business administration courses
  • 15 or more semester hours of graduate-level or upper-division accounting
  • 1-3 years of pertinent job experience

For International Candidates

  • The candidate must have two years of work experience to obtain a CPA license.
  • To keep your CPE license active, you must complete CPE hours. Many states require 120 hours of CPE over three years or 40 hours per year.
  • Complete the ethics test (if required by your state board)

Students who have studied outside the US have access to NASBA’s International Evaluation Services (NIES). To fulfill each state’s standards, it offers non-US candidates an online application.

Professional Bodies

To administer the test and provide the license, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) works in tandem with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the State Boards of Accountancy (BOA) of the 55 US jurisdictions.

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A license may only be obtained after passing the Uniform CPA test, one of the most critical requirements. The exam is a computerized examination with four sections. Each section must be completed one at a time. It includes multiple-choice questions, simulations based on tasks, and essays on written communication. Each section will take you four hours to complete. Please keep in mind that you must complete all four test portions within 18 months of completing the first. In addition, you must get a passing score of 75 out of 99 in each section.

When considering the difficulty of the CPA and FRM tests, the CPA exam has a larger curriculum and more challenging exams. Compared to FRM tests, which are limited to risk management topics, CPA exams evaluate various accounting and financial topics.

Roles & Responsibilities

CPAs are mainly responsible for coming up with the best financial plans to advance and safeguard the interests of their clients. They use their knowledge and expertise to sustain a company’s competitive edge over time. Their job descriptions are as follows:

  • Keeping and checking the financial records of the firm.
  • Suggest ways to save money that will be profitable for businesses.
  • The process of assessing transactions and creating reports.
  • The filing of taxes and preparation of taxes.
  • Budgeting and preparing for the future.
  • Financial consulting

Career Prospects

The future of the CPA profession is bright. They fetch a greater salary, better employment prospects, and a better professional reputation due to their specialized education and experience. CPAs are qualified to fill any financial position in businesses, public accounting companies, governmental organizations, academic institutions, or non-profit organizations. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for CPAs is anticipated to increase by 22% during the following ten years.

Their function has taken on a lot more importance in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak. Businesses now have to deal with bankruptcies, foreclosures, and other unforeseen financial crises; therefore, professionals rely on CPAs to point them in the correct route. They are crucial for the financial performance of any organization, from revenue estimation to forecasting and cash flow analysis. Additionally, their expertise, knowledge, and abilities are helpful in reversing a failing system’s course.

What is FRM?

Financial Risk Manager (FRM) is a professional credential granted by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). The GARP FRM accreditation is acknowledged worldwide as the top credential for those working in the financial risk industry. Candidates must complete two challenging tests and operate in risk management for two years to receive the FRM certification. The demand for people who manage risk, money, and investments to acquire internationally standardized current knowledge has arisen as a result of the quick changes in the global finance sector. FRM attempts to bridge this knowledge gap.


For enrollment in the FRM program, you are not required to meet any particular educational or professional requirements. To get the certification, though, you must first do the following:

  • Within four years of applying for the Part 1 test, you must have passed Levels 1 and 2 of the FRM Program.
  • Within five years of passing the Part 2 test, you must have a minimum of two years of related job experience in the risk profile.
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Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

The CPD program requires 40 credits, which GARP highly advises qualified FRMs to complete every two years. Even though the training is not required, it assists in their continued knowledge of the most effective methods for managing financial risk.

FRM Exam

Compared to the CPA test, the FRM exam is more popular since it offers optional CPD and has fewer restrictive qualifying requirements. Since FRM is a specialized field, its exam assesses how well-versed applicants are in that particular field. Two sets of multiple-choice tests make up the FRM exam (MCQs).

FRM Exam Weightage MCQs Content
Part 1 50% 100 Financial Risk Assessment tools
Part 2 50% 80 Application of the risk assessment tools

Duties & Responsibilities

Every business is subject to both market- and non-market-related risks of unforeseen events. Such dangers put a business at risk of losing money. FRMs are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to recognize, assess, and mitigate these risks. They use both qualitative and quantitative analytical methods to interpret complex circumstances and formulate a proactive strategy. 

Potential financial hazards should be reduced or eliminated to ensure a business’s smooth functioning and long-term growth. 

They may be responsible for the following duties:

  • Evaluation and assessment of risk exposures.
  • Present findings to interested parties.
  • Creating plans to manage possible dangers.
  • Audits of compliance and policy are regulated.
  • Putting business continuity plans into practice
  • Budgets for risk management preparation

Please be aware that earning an FRM certification does not limit you to a risk management profile. Instead, you may enhance your career in various fields, including investment banking, asset management, or insurance.

Job Prospects

FRMs receive a respectable wage and professional recognition, much like CPAs do. Aside from that, they also have an advantage over rivals in the professional world, improved employment prospects, contacts to the world, and a secure career. The FRM program calls for in-depth familiarity with risk management strategies as well as quantitative and qualitative abilities that help a professional specialize in particular jobs.

The professionals that enroll in this course benefit from the FRM certification by developing specific skill sets. Worldwide demand for the FRM designation has been and will exist in the future. To help their businesses survive and expand in the market, top banks and companies recruit them. Bank of China, HSBC, ICBC, Citigroup, KPMG, etc., are a few of the major companies that hire risk managers. Candidates for the FRM designation have jobs in a wide range of sectors, including-

  • Investment banks
  • Asset management firms
  • Consulting firms
  • Insurance firms
  • Credit agencies
  • Hedge funds
  • Risk and technology vendors
  • Government/regulatory agencies

The FRM certificate is considered equal to the American master’s degree requirement. It is the best option for you to improve your chances of a job in the financial sector. Your capacity to contribute to the company in important ways is demonstrated by receiving this distinction.

CPA vs. FRM Comparative Table

Professionals who get one of these credentials can advance their knowledge in the fields in which they specialize and enhance their prospects for employment. The expertise gap is their main point of differentiation. Let’s see the overview of CPA Vs. FRM in the tabular form for creating a better understanding side-by-side.

Specifics CPA  FRM
Definition An accounting license is obtained from the AICPA after completing the prerequisites for the test, education, and experience. After completing both sections of the FRM Exam and acquiring professional experience, one can obtain risk management certification recognized by GARP.
Professional Body AICPA and NASBA GARP
Specialization Area Accounting and Finance Risk assessment and Management
Eligibility Uniform Exam CPA Bachelor’s Degree (120-150 credit hours) 1 to 3 years of work experience Part 1 of the FRM Exam Part 2 of the FRM Exam 2 years of work experience
Exam Papers 4 Papers 2 Papers
Syllabus Auditing and Attestation (AUD)Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR) Regulation (REG) • Risk management concepts• Risk models and valuation• Financial markets• Measurement and management of different types of risks
Pass Rate 50% 45%
Continuing professional education Mandatory Not Mandatory
Job Roles • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)• Chief Executive Officer (CEO)• Financial Advisor• Tax Accountant• Financial Analyst• Internal Auditor• IT Auditor• Accounting Manager • Financial Risk Analyst• Risk Manager• Risk Quantification Manager• Investment Banker• TraderWealth Manager• Market Risk Analyst• Credit Risk Specialist• Model Valuation officer
Average Salary $119,000 $100,000
Course Fee Application fees – $150 (approx.). Each exam section – $224 (approx.)   Enrollment fees  – $400 Each part Exam fees – $750 Discounted fees (early enrollment)  – $550

CPA Vs. FRM: Which Should You Choose?

It is clear that both these qualifications may help advance a prosperous financial career. Such courses serve as an extra certification that assists an individual in developing expertise in a certain field, and such knowledge can launch a career and propel it to the next stage. Additionally, it helps broaden a person’s professional horizons, enhances employability, and offers additional opportunities.

You must select between becoming a “CPA vs. FRM depending on the job sector that interests you and where you wish to focus. It is due to the excellent employment opportunities that these certificates offer us in different fields. The FRM is for individuals who want to pursue a career in the risk or financial markets arena, as opposed to the CPA, which is for those who want to pursue a career in accounting and finance. Both programs would provide students with great career alternatives. There are additional factors to think about when comparing CPA vs. FRM debates.


Since we have compared the CPA vs. FRM programs, you are much more educated and know exactly which career path to take. All three programs provide a variety of opportunities and career options. In conclusion, it is highly recommended that any student interested in these programs enroll in CPA or FRM courses from a reputable institution in order to have all of their queries answered.

Enrolling in NorthStar Academy’s (NSA) US CPA course can make the certification procedure simple. You’ll be able to adhere to a clear roadmap according to their certification programs. In addition to providing thorough training, they also provide package discounts, making the experience affordable.

Please feel free to contact us @ +918147470707 if you still have questions about our courses.

1. Which is better – CPA vs. FRM?

Which certification would be a better choice for you totally depends on your career preference and your choice of subject. Choose FRM if you have a bachelor’s degree in statistics and want to work in risk management or finance. Choose CPA if your goal is to work in accounting, auditing, or taxation and you have a bachelor’s degree in business.

2. Which is tougher, CPA vs. FRM?

Exams for the CPA are more challenging than those for the FRM since they cover a wider range of topics. Contrary to FRM tests, which are limited to risk management ideas, CPA exams evaluate a wide variety of accounting and financial topics.

3. Is FRM in high demand?

For risk management specialists, the FRM accreditation is seen as the pinnacle of achievement. Potential credit and market risks have emerged over the past ten years, which has increased the need for skilled FRMs who can define the risk exactly and plainly. The need for FRMs has risen as a result.

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