Certified technical analysts use their expert knowledge of financial markets to make predictions regarding stock performance. This information is critical to businesses and individuals who are heavily invested in the sometimes-volatile stock market. Using computer programs, they analyze past market performance and current data to forecast trends. This job requires a bachelor's degree in a field such as finance or economics. Professional certifications are not mandatory in this field, but holding one can improve an analyst's chances for career advancement.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Certification||Voluntary; requires candidates to complete a degree, work experience, special training programs and three intensive examinations for the Chartered Financial Analyst designation|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*||16% for financial analysts|
|Median Salary (2013)*||$78,380 for financial analysts|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Certified technical analysts are financial analysts who specialize in making predictions on the future of the stock market. They base these predictions on reviews of past market trends and analyses of market data. These experts use a systematic approach to forecast stock market trends and then advise clients on trading and investing.
Technical analysts study various financial investments such as interest rate products, securities and futures. Using data culled from financial markets, certified technical analysts utilize spreadsheets and computerized statistical software to examine the data, identify current trends, make predictions and create investment strategies.
Certifications are awarded by several companies and associations, including the CFA Institute, which is considered the gold standard for the industry. CFA Institute is a global association of investment professionals that offers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Certifications like the CFA designation may make a job candidate stand out among other applicants in the field of financial analysts.
To qualify for the CFA designation, applicants must have a bachelor's degree, four years of relevant work experience and pass three rigorous exams. Topics covered on these exams include economics, accounting, financial markets and instruments, corporate finance, portfolio management and securities analysis.
Passing these exams may require many hours of study and can take up to three years. CFA Institute refers to this process as a graduate-level program and a specific course of study is recommended. Applicants may prepare for the tests by taking mock tests and sample tests. The exam format includes set questions, multiple-choice questions and essay exams.
Because applicants can begin the examination process while obtaining the relevant work experience required for certification, this certification process is open to candidates who have recently graduated or those making a career change, as well as those who have many years of experience in analyzing financial markets.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2013 the median annual salary for financial analysts, including certified technical analysts, was $78,380. This career field is projected to grow by 16% over the 2012-2022 decade, according to the BLS.