Engineers – considering CFA or Financial Engineering?


I know of many engineers who regretted not getting the right career advice when they were in school. (What’s “right” is subjective, of course.)

Envious of the high income that an investment banker can fetch, some of these engineers decided to take up courses or certifications that hopefully will give them a chance to enter the lucrative finance sector.

Their options include:

  • Getting CFA charter. This can be done through self study, but it takes a fair bit of effort. The catch is that in order to get the charter title, you gotta accumulate a few years of relevant experience. There are people who deliberately became financial consultants (i.e. insurance agents) just to earn the CFA title. The interesting point here is that even working as a financial adviser/consultant counts as relevant.
  • Getting a financial engineering degree from NUS or NTU. You need to pay school fees, attend classes, do projects, homework, etc. It can be quite challenging.

BUT, does it help to do all this?

If you’re studying just to gain worldly knowledge of finance, then you’re fine. I salute you.

But more likely, you’re in this game because you want to get a job that pays well, at least reasonably better than your miserable engineer pay. If that’s what you want, then chances are you will be disappointed.

Don’t believe me? The next time you attend a preview session for such a course, ask questions.

Ask important questions, like “will I get a good job that pays well after I graduate?”, “can you show me statistics on the before-and-after salaries of your graduates?” and “how many of your graduates have gone on to be associates with a bulge bracket investment bank?”

You’d be lucky if the presenter advises you not to expect too much. He could’ve said, “you might need to take a pay cut…”


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  1. Hi,
    I am Telecom Engnr and hve work exp of 4 years, currently I am acting as Operational Manager for Feild services and part of my job deals with Cost Optimization for field expenses and Invoicing for to take money from Customer
    Does CFA or Msc Financial Engg can help me out to gain key strategic position in Telecom Culture
    P.S i dont want to go in Banking Line by doing CFA

  2. I am a BTech (ECE) engineer. got 2.2 years or exp in IT. Is CFA a good option for me? I want to be in finance dept n IT for headstart and then financial analyst. please suggest as i am feeling like an ocean to decide

  3. Hi,
    I am Polymer Engg from India. I have 2 yrs of work ex in my own field.
    Things were smooth until last year, when i met with an accident. I sustained a spinal injury and have been paraplegic ever since.
    Needless to say, I cant work on site any more and am currently job hunting. Doing MBA in finance was always in d pipeline but now online certifications like CFA and FRM seem like a very good option.
    Could you please advise/help me in weighing my options.

    “P.S. : All i need is to improve my skill-set in order to secure a wheel chair friendly Job or Work from home option.”

  4. could you please tell me the good universities to
    do MS in Financial engineering in Singapore. Also let me know how these universities are comparable with US Universities like CMU, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND PRINCETON UNIVERSITY.

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